Waging Romance on Meredith McKay

Aug. 29th, 2008 09:58 am

Fandom: SGA

Characters: John, Meredith, eventual John/Meredith, various

Rating: R

Warnings: girl!Rodney, language, blood

Disclaimer: Not mine!

Summary: John is aware that maybe thinking about this in terms of a military attack is slightly odd, but honestly it only makes sense when dealing with McKay. She's got him outgunned and her defenses are kicking his ass all over the place.

Author's Note: Written for the Fall Fandom Free-For-All (if you haven't signed up already, go do it now), for kashmir1's request #9: Rodney's always been a girl and yet Rodney and John still end up in Atlantis and eventually together.

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Meredith McKay is loud, pushy, frequently sarcastic, and stunningly brilliant. She is, also, a woman.

John isn't sexist. He's not anything like that. And he knows that McKay is the smartest person in the city, not just because she tells everyone at every possible opportunity. John's seen her in the labs, or out around the city, fixing things that had flummoxed all the other members of her staff. He's heard her in the daily briefings, so he knows she knows her stuff. If he has to have a scientist on his team, and Elizabeth has insisted that he does, McKay is a sound choice. The best choice.

But.

But she's also the kind of good looking that John's always had a hard time ignoring. He knows that's his problem, not hers, but that doesn't make it just go away. In the field, the last thing either of them need is him getting distracted by the snug fit of her BDUs, or the way her short hair goes darker and curls up when she's in the heat too long.

It's a stupid reason to think about not putting someone on his team, but John is just smart enough to know that sometimes the stupid things are the ones that fuck you up the worst. So he thinks about it, turning the idea around in his head and trying to plan for all the ways it could go very, very, wrong, right up to the moment where Elizabeth says, calmly, that if John doesn't want McKay on his team, she'll be assigned to someone else's.

That makes up John's mind pretty damn quickly, and he ignores Elizabeth's arched eyebrow, walking out of the room with a lead weight in his stomach.

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They've been through the 'gate all of four times when all of John's worries decide to go ahead and come true. The natives of MPX-920 had been friendly. In fact, they still are. They're very, very friendly as they jovially shove at John's shoulders and pull him along, chattering happily amongst themselves the entire time.

Unfortunately, in addition to being friendly, they're completely bat-shit insane. John twists against their hold, and it's amazing how quickly their grip can go from 'pat on the back' to 'Vulcan neck pinch' in seconds like that. He's shouting, yanking at the bonds holding his wrists together against the small of his back, "If you hurt her, I swear to God I will kill you all, I will—"

One of the natives hits John hard in the side of the head in the middle of an exuberant wave to someone across the crowd. John spits out blood, his tongue burning where he bit it, and wonders where the hell Teylan and Ford are.

And then the natives are helpfully lifting John under his armpits, dragging him up stone steps as he kicks out at their legs. He spits blood again, promising, "You're all dead men, every fucking one of you," and they laugh, hitting him in the back of the head and shoving him forward while he's still seeing spots.

John's knees hit the hard stone with a crack that splinters more pain through his body, and he grunts, feeling momentum carrying him forward. Hands catch him before he can smack face-first into the stone, pulling him straighter. Someone smacks him across the cheek and a pleasant voice says into his ear, "Are you still with us, Major?"

John shakes his head, blinking away spots, and then yells, trying to surge up to his feet, throwing his weight forward in an attempt to dislodge the people holding him in place.

They have McKay tied to a goddamn stake, her arms secured above her head, palms out. She's gagged. Her boots, BDUs, and vest are gone. Her eyes are huge and wild, and she's trying to yell something around the gag that John can't make out. There are lines of blood streaking down her arms from where she's twisting against the ropes at her wrists. There are dark bruises stained into her fair skin.

Someone says, happy and light hearted, "She will bear you strong sons," and they're patting him on the shoulders again. John curses all over again that he was stupid enough to stare at her, and that they were crazy enough to catch him and do this about it.

John feels like maybe he's not quite inside his own head anymore, angry like there aren't even words for, watching McKay stare at him, her eyes sharp and focused on him.

And then she rolls her eyes upward. John blinks, looking up automatically, watching her ball her hands up into fists and then extend all of her fingers in a sharp, violent movement. John looks back down at her face, and she nods, fast and jagged, before turning her face against her arm and squeezing her eyes shut.

John yells again, imagining that he can feel the air shifting already, and adrenaline gives him the strength to make it to his feet, slamming his body into the people trying to hold him back. It's hard to run with his arms restrained, but he manages, boots loud on the stone under his feet, ignoring the surprised shouts of the natives.

John reaches her, running into her, and she grunts, mumbling something irritated around the gag. John gasps out an automatic apology, demanding, "How long?" and crowding against her, wishing his hands were free, wishing he knew where the fuck Teylan and Ford were, wishing—

The world goes to nothing but noise and light. John doesn't have time to curse, or shout, or anything. Heat washes over his back, and he buries his face against McKay's hair, pieces of sharp, jagged, something tearing into his shoulders and arms.

It's over as quickly as that, leaving John deaf and disoriented. He stays leaning against McKay, breathing hard, feeling sticky, wet, warmth sliding down his spine and fingers. Against him, he can feel her shaking, her breath coming loud and ragged through the gag, her breasts pressing against his chest, the skin of her arm soft against his cheek.

Behind them, somewhere far away, the natives are screaming. They don't sound so friendly now, the bastards. John laughs, the sound catching in his throat, and feels his knees give. McKay makes a loud, frightened, sound when John slides down, knees hitting the ground about a second before his ass hits his feet.

He slumps forward, forehead pressed against one of her thighs, and stays there, breathing against her soft skin, absently turning his face back and forth. He isn't ready to process anything about this day, not right now. So he doesn't, just letting his mind be blank while he listens to her make increasingly aggravated sounds until Teylan and Ford finally find them.

There's noise, and hands pulling on him, and John tries to shake them off, but they're too strong. He yells, pain burning up his arms as the pressure holding his wrists finally lessens. People are yelling, Teylan's looking calmly down at John, his dark eyes worried.

John says, "McKay?" because he's feeling dizzy and very sleepy, and wants to make sure she's alright before he goes to sleep.

Then there's a familiar voice, and even if John can't quite make out the words he knows the tone. John smiles, rolling his head to the side, watching Ford hurriedly cut McKay's hands free. There's a smear of blood on McKay's thigh, and John frowns at it, trying to figure out where it came from, and then she's kneeling beside him, her mouth moving so fast, her wrists and hands bloody.

John smiles some more, reaching up and grabbing her shirt, pulling. When he kisses her, she makes a surprised sound against his lips, and John tells her, "Gonna kill 'em all," and falls down into dreams.

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John spends the next few days enjoying the hospitality of Atlantis' infirmary. The rest of his team hangs around. Even McKay. John feels bad when he catches himself staring at her, which is pretty much constantly. He doesn't remember everything about the mission, he still can't quite recall getting hit by the explosion she rigged up in the seconds she had before the natives snatched her, but he remembers kissing her.

They don't talk about it until the day John's released, when she walks him back to his quarters. She talks the entire way about some project that she's been working on with Zelenka, waving her hands around, John's attention constantly grabbed by the white bandages around her wrists.

When they reach his doorway he hesitates, looking at her, and for a half-second she looks back and John imagines that he sees all kinds of things in her eyes. Then she looks to the side, tilts her chin up, and says, "I'm not interested in being a notch on anyone's bedpost, Major. Get some rest, and I'd recommend you just forget about what happened on that planet," and walks away without looking back.

John feels something go sour in his stomach, thumping a fist against his doorframe.

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The thing is, John tries to forget. He really does. He wants to be able to keep working with McKay, for reasons that are getting frustratingly complicated. He likes talking to her, working with her, just being around her. No one else could replace her on the team.

So he tries to forget, which results in a stunning failure. It seems unfair that of all the things he only has fuzzy memories of on that planet, the one thing he remembers in startling detail is her mouth against his, soft and dry and not even a very good kiss, especially with the salty taste of blood everywhere.

He gives the whole forgetting it thing a month, and then gives up the hope of it ever working and decides that he needs a better plan. He doesn't have very much to go on, besides the surety that she did kiss him back, and the knowledge that she apparently thinks he's only interested in fucking her.

John sighs, and gets to work.

John was raised to believe that there were certain things a man did when he was interested in a woman. Of course, for most of his life he'd completely ignored them. Then again, the one time he'd made the effort he'd ended up married, so he figures that's a pretty good track record. Or not, since his marriage had fallen apart at a speed that he found frankly impressive.

Still, he figures that if nothing else it's somewhere to start. He's tired of lying to himself about how much he wants McKay, and the knowledge that she kissed him back, which he's holding onto so hard it's a little embarrassing, gives him the final piece of motivation to pursue this.

He's a little rusty, but he figures it won't really be that hard. Probably it's just like riding a bike.

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Obviously, John had not been factoring in how difficult McKay had a habit of making every damn thing, with or without intention. He thinks that he should be ashamed of himself, because, really, he should have known better.

The single flower that John gives her on P99-MO1, a huge, almost waxy looking, bloom the same color as her eyes, makes her sneeze within seconds. And, adding insult to injury, there's some kind of alien bee inside the bloom that tries to sting her. The rest of them spend the entire walk back to the 'gate getting a impromptu lesson on how to use her Epipen just in case she got stung out in the field. John figures he probably just made a romantic gesture that she had taken as a death threat and wonders how he managed that. He's fairly certain that Teylan and Ford are laughing at him.

Chocolate is almost impossible to find in the city already, but John manages to scourge up a few bars. He considers wrapping them, decides that's just overkill, and is on his way to give them to McKay when the city goes into lock-down. They all spend the next three days trying to figure out what the hell is going on as the temperature climbs and climbs, until McKay realizes someone set a coffee cup on the wrong button and almost doomed them all. The chocolate ends up not only melted, but melted all over John's pants. It takes him forever to get it out.

Movie night almost goes well. John doesn't even have to wrestle for the seat beside McKay, with Teylan and Ford pressing questionably close together. John makes a note to tell the younger Marine that while John doesn't care who he sleeps with, someone else might.

Right at the moment, John doesn't care. He's successfully managed to sit beside McKay. There's popcorn, or something close to popcorn, anyway. He shaved. McKay is bitching about her feet killing her and John is just considering making an offer to rub them when Ford turns the movie on and, of course, everything falls apart.

Even after McKay stomps out of the room in disgust John isn't completely sure what's so horrible about Back to the Future. He slumps forward, rubbing at his head, and Teylan pats him companionably on the shoulder as Marty fights off his mother's advances.

Teylan says, "I believe perhaps you are going about your courting of Doctor McKay the wrong way."

And John snaps, "You think?" and Teylan just arches his eyebrows, looking disapproving in that calm, superior way he has. John sighs, waving a hand in apology, and they watch the rest of the movie in a silence that's more awkward than anything.

John decides later, lying in bed, that the foot-rub idea still has a chance of working. He goes on believing that right up to the moment he brings it up, eating dinner across from McKay in the mess. She goes still in mid-bite, her lips pressed closed around her spoon, and that really shouldn't be as distracting as it is.

Finally she swallows, slamming her spoon down and slowly standing. She says, leaning over and poking him in the chest, "I don't know what you think you're doing, but you just stop it right now. Find someone else to play your little games with."

And John resists banging his forehead down onto the table after she leaves only by an extreme use of his willpower. He eats the rest of his pudding with her spoon, which is not sad, creepy, or pathetic at all, except for how he's sure that it is.

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So, obviously, John had seriously underestimated the stubborn defenses he would be facing when he embarked on this campaign. He needs to re-evaluate his strategies and fall back to a position he has a chance of holding while he decides on his next offensive deployments.

John is aware that maybe thinking about this in terms of a military attack is slightly odd, but honestly it only makes sense when dealing with McKay. She's got him outgunned and her defenses are kicking his ass all over the place. But John's stubborn, especially about things he wants as much as he wants her.

He settles in for a long siege, and starts concentrating on entrenching his position, just in case.

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John settles back into just friendship with McKay. She still looks at him suspiciously sometimes, but he's biding his time. He figures that maybe she needs to be acclimated to him a little more first. He's kind of vaguely hopeful that the more time he spends around her, the more likely she is to suddenly decide that he's awesome.

John is aware that he is possibly suffering from delusions at this point, but the games of chess are fun, even if she does kick his ass ninety percent of the time. And he likes watching her work in the labs. And, okay, going to the shooting range with her might be a little bit like torture, but at least she only narrows her eyes at him the first few times he adjusts her stance or her grip on the gun.

She finally starts coming to team nights again, and the first time they watch a movie John almost stretches his arm out along the back of the couch, thinking about her soft hair pressed up against his skin. Teylan pokes John hard in the side, and Ford shakes his head desperately when John turns to look at them.

John sighs, and lets his arm drop back down. Just to spite them he doesn't return his hand to his thigh, instead resting it on the cushion beside McKay's. He can just feel the fabric of her pants against his pinkie, and spends the entire rest of the movie concentrating on that.

He's pretty sure that this is not so much moving slow as it is moving backwards, but apparently it's the best he's going to be able to manage right now, so John just grins and bears it. He can do this. It's not like being friendly with her is any hardship, no matter how much he wants more.

He can be patient, when he needs to be.

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John is protective of his friends. He always has been, and that's, of course, why he reacts the way he does when he walks in on some of his men discussing the chief science officer of the expedition.

For a moment all John can do is listen, frozen in place while one of the soldiers snorts and says, obviously responding to some conversation that John's missed, "Shit, yeah she's a bitch. I don't know why the fuck Sheppard puts up with that bullshit."

One of the other's scoffs, and John wonders what they're even doing down here in one of the spare labs. A whole lot of nothing, from what he can tell. The second man says, "What, are you fucking blind, too? She might be a heartless motherfucker, but you can't tell me you wouldn't fuck her raw if you could, I mean—"

John grits his teeth together, balling his hands up into fists, not even risking a look down at McKay where she's standing right behind his shoulder. The scientists behind them, the group that they'd been leading down here for some integrity scans, are all completely silent. John can almost feel their surprise radiating off of them, and he starts to take a step forward, clearing his throat loudly.

The soldiers in the room go still, before one very slowly turns to look at John. The man's eyes are wide, the color draining out of his face, John smiles, not nicely, opening his mouth because he's going to tear these little bastards a new one, anger pounding hot up through his gut, and McKay beats him to it.

McKay steps around John smoothly, her shoulders tight and tense with anger. Her voice comes out edged with razors, soft so the soldiers have to lean forward a little to hear her, "Listen to me, you little bitches, because I'm only going to say this once. If I ever—ever—hear you talking like that about me or a member of my staff again, I will personally recalibrate the transporter technology and the next time you use one your balls and dick aren't going to end up in the same room as the rest of you."

The men in the room wince, and then freeze again when she points at one of them, snapping her fingers, her voice icy cold, "Except for you. I have to actually be able to give the computer someone big enough to beam off, after all. Now. Get the fuck out of my sight before I change my mind and do it now."

The soldiers flee, scrambling past the other scientists in the door, looking pale and drawn. Not one of them even looks like they think she couldn't do it. John doesn't want to think about whether she could or not. Not with her bracing her hands on her hips and tilting her head down, breathing hard.

John grimaces, saying, "McKay, look, I'm going to—"

"Get out," her voice is flat and tight, and John flinches. He opens his mouth again, because she should know that he's not just going to let them get off without any retribution at all, and she shouts, "Get out!" John goes. In the doorway, Miko is shooing the rest of the scientists away as well, before squaring up her shoulders, pushing her glasses higher on her nose, and going into the room.

John stands outside the door, but if Miko and McKay talk neither of them speak loudly enough for him to hear. Eventually he leaves, because he has some disciplinary matters to take care of.

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John sends every one of the soldiers that had been in that room to the infirmary, and makes damn sure they understand why. Teylan helps out with it, brimming with a kind of contained fury that actually frightens even John a little bit. It's rare to see the other man truly angry, but by the time John explains what happened, Teylan is completely pissed off.

Somehow, John really hadn't expected McKay to show up at his room in the middle of the night. She pounds on his door until he manages to stumble across the room and open it. He's half-asleep, dreams of her caught up in the forefront of his mind, blinking at her and suffering momentary confusion.

Luckily, she doesn't seem to be expecting him to think right now. She shoves him hard in the middle of his chest, driving him back into his room and waving his door shut. John blinks, lost but cautiously hopeful that he missed something and this situation might be looking up.

Then she shoves him again, her voice tight and angry, "What the hell is wrong with you? I handled it! What, your stupid testosterone filled brain wasn't satisfied? You had to go show them who the boss is, even after I took care of it? I don't want or need your Prince Charming complex, or whatever the hell this is, Sheppard. In case you haven't noticed, I've managed to take care of myself for decades now without needing some big strong man to make sure I'm okay, so next time why don't you just keep your fists to yourself and stay out of my business."

She's almost shaking with anger, her eyes flashing, and John feels all the vestiges of his sleepiness slip away. He sighs, gritting his teeth and trying to keep his voice calm when he says, "Look, McKay, those things they were saying, that kind of shit is—"

"Is the same thing I've been hearing since college, you fucking moron. Since I was twelve. So just take your archaic little 'protecting the woman' attitude, stow it with your club and your loin cloth, and go to hell. I don't need it." She still looks furious, mouth twisted down hard, cheeks red, but John is too hung up on her being twelve and having to hear shit like that to really keep up.

After a moment she sighs, crossing her arms and tilting her chin up. She sounds tired, "Are you even listening to me?"

And John manages, "Twelve?" feeling sick and pissed off all over again.

McKay stares at him, and then shakes her head, throwing one hand up in disgust. She turns, snapping over her shoulder, "I don't want your pity. I don't want your protection. I don't want your anything, are we clear?" She waves his door open and steps out before John can answer, which is just as well, because he isn't clear at all.

He sits on the side of his bed, staring at his hands, for a long a time. Eventually the sun rises.

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Even if John had wanted to just forget that he ever heard that filth, he couldn't. It's his job to protect McKay, and more than that, he wants to protect her. He needs to. He gets that she doesn't understand it, that it pisses her off, but he can't just wave it away. He doesn't want to.

Still, he tries to cover it up when she's around, because he doesn't like it when she's pissed off at him. That doesn't stop all her angry accusations that he, Teylan, and Ford treat her differently now. And John would argue with her more, but it's true enough.

John doesn't know if he believes that it's all about testosterone and their dicks leading them around. After all, as far as he can tell, Teylan and Ford are far more interested in each other than McKay. It's just that she's a part of their team, and so should be protected, whether she likes it or not.

Word gets around that she's not to be fucked with. It doesn't take long on a closed community like Atlantis. Just to make sure the point is clear, John sticks close to her for a few weeks, glaring pointedly whenever anyone comes close. He makes his men all listen to the sexual harassment presentation that had been sent along from Earth over and over until he's fairly certain they could repeat it verbatim. There's actually a moment where he's tempted to make them do just that.

And, just in case there are any residual doubts, John gets Teylan to beat up a few more people. That should, he thinks, pretty much take care of it.

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Of course, that just takes care of it on Atlantis.

On MC9-819 the natives are all positively enchanted by Meredith's fair skin and blue eyes, and constantly touch her. John grits his teeth and tries to bear it. By the time they've been escorted around the village his resolve has crumbled, and he has a hand on McKay's back. She's glaring at him and he just smiles tightly down at her, because he can't help it.

X0X-183 has McKay working closely with the planet's scientists in an effort to turn on a shield that should protect the planet from the Wraith. John walks in on one of them leaning over her, the man's hands on either side of McKay's hips as she works frantically on something, not even paying attention to the way the man is staring at her, hungry and dirty.

John has the man up against the wall in seconds, snarling. McKay is shouting, "What the hell is wrong with you now?" pissed off and loud.

John snaps back, "Just fix the damn thing. We're leaving as soon as you're done," glaring down into the other man's face. The man looks surprised, afraid, and John's knuckles itch with the urge to hit him. After a moment McKay calls John an idiot again before going back to work, still cursing him, and John casually tightens his grip on the other man's throat, just enough to make his face turn red.

When McKay finishes the sky outside is orange, the shield in place, and she doesn't say a word all the way back to the 'gate, her arms crossed tight, radiating hostility. Teylan looks at John, eyebrows raised in question, and John just shakes his head, shoving his hand deeper into his pocket, knuckles stinging from the parting blow he'd left the other man with.

McKay doesn't speak to him for a week. He'd do it again anyway.

On VV2-20M the chieftain there decides to make McKay wife number three, which just has all kinds of horrible results, like the fact that wife number two gets her head chopped off before they can do a damn thing to stop it, and McKay gets drugged out of her skull.

John has, actually, no idea what he said that gets him into a duel to the death with the chieftain, but there they are, circling each other around a fire pit. McKay is sitting by the chieftain's throne, a chain around her neck, the metal catching the flickering firelight.

There's a bone knife in John's hand, and enough anger in his chest to make him look forward to using it. The chieftain has scars on his chest and arms from past fights, smiling horribly at John over the flames, and somewhere in the crowd John knows Teylan and Ford are making their way towards McKay. Even if John ends up skewered, they're going to get her out of here, and that's a relief.

Especially with wife number two's head still swinging grotesquely from the chieftain's belt.

When the man comes at John with the knife, smooth and capable and damn good with it, he opens a long cut along John's shoulder. John aims for the man's gut and misses, and the chieftain laughs, huge and terrible. The man says, "You fight poorly for your woman," mocking and loud, and John growls, because goddamnit, but there's no way he's letting this fucker anywhere close to McKay.

There's a reason John hates knife fights, and that's that there's never a real winner. He ends up with a cut opened over the bridge of his nose and a gouge above his left hip that's deep enough to worry him. His hands are a bloody mess, but it doesn't matter.

The chieftain holds his hands over his throat comically when he stumbles backwards, blood that's almost black pouring down over his fingers. John spits, red tinted, down onto the dirt and shifts his grip on the knife, slippery with blood, stalking across to the dying man.

It's a good knife. It separates the bastard's vertebrae perfectly. John throws the head into the fire, listening to it pop and sizzle as he limps his way over to McKay, where Teylan is opening the chain around her neck and pulling her to her feet as around them the crowd stares in numb silence.

McKay sways alarming, her eyes huge and empty, and John grabs her, holding her tightly now, while she won't hate him or hit him. She sighs, soft, melting against him, pliant in his arms. John knows he's getting blood all over the white clothing they've stuck her in. He doesn't care.

After a long time, Teylan touches John's shoulder, and John nods. They manage to limp their way back to the Jumper, unimpeded by the natives, who still seem to be frozen in place. McKay stays silent and pliant all the way back to Atlantis, submitting to the medical examination without protest and then curling up on the bed and closing her eyes.

John watches her while they stitch him up.

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McKay wakes up back to herself, thank God, and John is intentionally annoying for the next few days just to get her to yell at him. Every time she does it's a relief, and he closes his eyes and just soaks in her sharp, biting, words, trying to push away the memories of the way she'd just been so blank back on that planet.

That's not the way he ever wanted her to go pliant in his arms. Not at all. Just thinking about it gives him an unpleasant, heavy feeling in his stomach. McKay stops ranting now, and after a moment John remembers to open his eyes, wondering why she stopped, because he'd brought up bad sci-fi just to get her going on a tangent she usually found hours worth of material for.

McKay is staring at him, head cocked to the side, and John clears his throat, shifting around.

She says, still staring hard, "I don't understand you."

John shrugs, rubbing the back of his neck. He says, "Yeah, well," because sometimes he doesn't understand him either. And just when he thinks he's starting to understand her she goes and does something that he doesn't get at all.

She says, holding his gaze, "There has to be someone else out there that would be an easier lay. Is it about the challenge? If I agree to sleep with you will you stop acting like this?"

For a long moment John can only stare at her. Then he shakes his head again, dragging a hand back through his hair and wondering why she chose the mess hall of all places to have this conversation. Still. Beggars can't be choosers.

He shoves his tray to the side, braces his elbows on the table, and says, "No."

For a moment McKay just keeps staring. And then she hums, turning back to her meal. A half second later she's talking about some Ancient device they found down in the labs, and that's the end of it. John swallows heavily, pulling his tray back over and picking at his food.

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The next time they play chess, McKay lets John win. John stares at her over her felled king after the game, mouth open, trying to decide if he should call her on it or not. She's watching him, eyes sharp, curious, and John finally reaches out and sets her king up again, knocking his over instead.

She blinks, staring down at the board, before slowly raising her gaze to him. He stares back, refusing to look away even though his heart is pounding up against his ribs. She says, "Hm," head cocking to the side, like she's trying to figure out some kind of puzzle.

Then she nods, and says, "Lets play again," smiling just a little bit at him, crooked and unsure. John nods. This time she plays normally, watching him out of the corner of her eye when she takes his king. John grins, and she looks surprised, but pleasantly.

When they put the pieces away she hesitates for a moment, her pale fingers curled up around his king before she bites her bottom lip and puts it away. John has no idea what exactly was going on with the game, but she doesn't seem furious with him, so he's taking it as a good sign.

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Movie night rolls around again, and for once McKay puts a movie in. John raises his eyebrows and she stares back, her chin going up, before sitting down determinedly beside him. And when original series Doctor Who starts playing John grins across at her.

She blinks, and then smiles back, and her hand stays on the couch between them, her little finger just brushing up against John's pants. Half-way through the second DVD she falls asleep, and John listens to Teylan and Ford's soft conversation, watching her.

He has no idea what she's doing, though he has a feeling it's some kind of test. He wishes he knew if he were passing or not. Or, hell, what he was even being judged on. Apparently she's not going to tell him, and John sighs.

When the show plays all the way through, John carefully nudges her. She wakes slowly, lashes long against her cheeks, her eyes soft and sleepy when she blinks up at him, and John loses his words. Then she yawns, nose wrinkling up as she rubs at her face and pushes to her feet. She mumbles, "Goodnight," and doesn't seem completely aware of John following her to her door, just to make sure she gets there alright.

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They stay in this oddly careful place for weeks. John still isn't sure exactly what's going on. McKay still snaps, and gets irritated, but then she looks at him afterwards, like she's judging his response. John has no idea what the right response here is, so he just sticks to what he's always done. Teylan at no point pokes John in the ribs, which either means that John is doing alright, or that the other man has given up on trying to help.

Then they go to MH2-030, just in time for the mid-summer festival. John attempts to get them out of it, but apparently it's good luck for outsiders to be there during the celebration, so they get stuck. There are hay rides, which make McKay sneeze, and face painting, which results in a rainbow being painted on John's forehead. There's a hell of a lot of food.

And there's dancing.

At first it appears to be mostly line dancing, and John's team ends up on the sidelines, laughing as everyone else in the village stomps around to the music. Unfortunately, it's not to last, and couples start breaking off, dancing slow in the circles of each other's arms.

John starts tapping his fingers on his leg, cutting a look over at McKay every few seconds, wondering if he dares. He's just opening his mouth, because it might not be a good idea, but that's never stopped John before, when someone else is stepping out of the crowd, grabbing McKay's arm and pulling her to her feet, sweeping her off to the dance floor.

John jerks to his feet, scowling, pushing his way through the dancers. McKay's voice manages to rise above the music, irritated and pissed off as she says, "No, you moron, I don't want to dance with you." The man that grabbed her either doesn't answer, or just isn't loud enough to be heard over the swell of something that sounds a lot like a fiddle.

And then they're right in front of John. He shakes the frown off of his face, grabbing the man's shoulder and smiling toothily when he announces, "I'm cutting in," and proceeds to do so. The man makes a faint, protesting sound, but John already has an arm around McKay's waist, moving her into the crowd with the intention of finding Teylan and Ford when she wraps her arm up around his neck.

John freezes, blinking down at her. She looks determined, her mouth set and her eyes tense. John automatically pulls her a little closer, and she slides her other arm up around his neck as well, her fingers brushing through the hair at the nape of his neck.

John shivers, both arms going around her waist. He finds that they're swaying a little back and forth, though he really hadn't been aware of that happening.

She's still staring at him, head tilted to the side, a piece of golden hay stuck in one of her curls. After a moment she says, "I don't understand what you want from me, Sheppard," and John thinks that maybe this is them discussing terms of surrender. He's not even sure who's surrendering. He's not sure that it matters.

John shrugs, rubbing his thumb over the soft material of her shirt, "Calling me John would be a nice start."

She blinks, looking surprised, and then she smiles at him, really smiles at him, laughing loud and genuine. John smiles back, watching her cheeks go red, her eyes crinkling up in the corners. After a moment she stops, swallowing another soft laugh or two before saying, "John," like she's testing it out, and then softer, "John," before shifting a little closer to him, sliding her fingers into his hair and pulling him down.

John stops breathing, stops thinking, stops everything.

She kisses him.

::go to The Effects of Foreign Policy on the Domestic Agenda —>::

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