Authors Note: Beta read by the very cool Ellex. Please let me know what you think of this, complaints, suggestions; any feedback would be helpful as long as it is constructive.

Just a little shippy new years piece for you all. Happy 2005!

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Stargate in any incarnations of course and I'm not making any money, this is just some harmless fanfic fun.

Part One: Between the lines

She scanned the room with her eyes. It was fairly obvious to him who she was looking for.
Rodney stood by the buffet table, full plate in one hand and a mug in his other. A smirk shone through despite his full mouth and he eagerly chewed, a quip ready for one of his colleagues.
Sheppard didn't recognise the two women with him, knowing only that they were Rodney's colleagues.
He glanced back to Elizabeth who was surreptitiously watching the man as he choked out a comment to the women. John was drawn back to the scene by Carson's laugh.
"He's quick ta tell us he's a genius at everything but he ain't smart with women,." said the Scotsman with a sad chuckle.
The previously friendly conversation had turned sour, one of them slapping the bemused chief scientific officer on the cheek and the second one walking off glaring at him as she followed her companion.

Elizabeth didn't seem to be watching anymore but John knew better. There was barely a moment she wasn't looking out for Rodney, but she chose now not to show it, walking over to Halling and the other Athosians instead of to her friend.
Rodney stood, eyes downcast thoughtfully and regretful and he took a mean swig from the mug, glugging down the entire contents. Not an easy feat by any means, John thought as he sniffed at the Athosian moonshine in his own cup.

"How you doing, buddy?" said the Major, overly friendly, as he strode up with Carson in tow.

Rodney stared back resentfully because he knew both the men had witnessed his misguided joke to Laura.
He didn't like her that much but it still hurt, particularly the sting of the slap, which he would have spent a few minutes rubbing if not for the numbing affect of the alcohol.
It was quite strong and he probably shouldn't have downed it on an empty stomach.
He sulked, avoiding their eyes but catching the cautious concerned glances that passed between his two closest friends.
Ignoring them he reached over to scoop his mug into the designated punch bowl, receiving disapproving looks when he put away another half of the pale pink liquid.
"What?!" he asked angrily, before pushing past them and shoving his way into the crowd.

The party was in full swing, though Elizabeth herself hadn't had much to drink, preferring to observe soberly. Well ok, she didn't prefer to do that but it was her duty as a responsible leader, she had to set the example. Though no one really expected too much from John, his childish charm being one of his redeeming qualities. Carson and Rodney were usually well behaved, Carson livelier for the most parts. In fact, Carson was across the room merrily teaching the highland jig and recounting the words to Auld Lang Syne to a few people.

Rodney was nowhere to be seen, which upset her; she'd been hoping to find out what had happened earlier but didn't want to force the issue too soon after the event.
She spotted John, his attention on the large group at the back, with half amusement half embarrassment. This she knew she'd need to see, whatever it was.

As she got closer, she heard Ford's excited voice shouting out "Left foot green."There was a squeak from a young woman followed by a thud and some mild swearing.
She was more intrigued now.
The crowd parted as she came to it and she found herself watching as several intertwined people struggled to stay up.
A man's blue jeaned arse pointed haughtily in the air. It was hard to tell who was in there but they all seemed to be having fun playing the game Twister that she recalled from the last party they'd had. It had been Aiden's one personal item and got dragged out at many celebrations – birthdays, mainly.
"Right hand blue."
There was some scuffling as the individuals rearranged themselves, the five people fighting over the available dots.

"Argh!" cried out an all too familiar voice.
Rodney fell over off the mat, defeated and clutching his strained back with one hand, eyes screwed up in pain.
Surprised that it had been him, embarassed at checking out his butt, she never the less proffered a hand to him, helping him up from his position on the floor.
His hand accepted hers, closing around it tightly. He got up, catching his breath and smiling at her, on the verge of laughter and tears simultaneously.
He hobbled to the tables with her, her hand supporting his back gently.

He wheezed a bit and sat down, resting his arms against his knees, bent over a little to catch his breath. Even then he looked insanely happy, smiling freely at her.
"Having fun?" she asked.
"Sure, why wouldn't I be?" he replied boisterously, eyes searching the room, "Can I get some more of the moonshine?"
"Don't you think you've had enough?" was the stern reply from Sheppard, who'd snuck up behind them without either noticing. She blushed slightly, turning her head away from them.

"No," was the simple defiant answer from Rodney, who was pouting beautifully with it.
She swallowed a smile, trying to remain serious.
"How many have you had? One, two, three... six? Stop me when I get it right," said Sheppard, arms crossed and in a rare lecturing mood.
"Does it matter, I'm happy, you should be happy that I'm happy, everyone should be this happy...."
John raised his eyebrows at this, looking over to her knowingly.
Rodney rambled on a bit to himself, muttering less than coherently.

She took a deep breath, resigned to agreeing with John, no matter how cute the man was when drunk.
Rodney sat there unusually tranquil, looking up innocently at them, his gorgeous blue eyes revealed under his lashes. But he also swayed as he sat, inebriated far beyond his usual level.
It was quite unlike him to get more than vaguely tipsy, since he usually ate enough to balance out anything he drank. It occurred to her that he must want to be this drunk, but why?

She turned to John, nodding. "I'll take him back to his quarters, make sure he gets there ok."
"You sure? It's getting pretty close to midnight, you might miss the fun."
She glanced at the again pouting Rodney, sitting there adorably in his blue jeans, jumper and shirt.
It was his casual dress but the best version of it, indicating he had been making an effort, and coupled with the earlier mishap she could almost guess what this was about.

"I'm sure we'll have plenty of fun ourselves, won't we Rodney?" she said as she tugged his arm., trying to pry him out of the chair. Sheppard raised one eyebrow at her comment, taking it the only way he liked to. She glared at him, not particularly meaning it, more annoyed that Rodney wasn't budging.

She reached out, taking his hand and pulling him up. He followed like a child, a beaming smile on his face as they departed, waving and calling out goodbye's to several people they passed on the way out, who smiled back at him. He seemed to have been making many more friends tonight, not hiding his emotions behind so much sarcasm as when he was sober.

She'd seen him only an hour before, not managing to get to him and going off to busy herself talking to others.
She hadn't known it had been because he'd been drinking so freely, but he'd appeared genuinely cheerful, laughing heartily at someone else's joke for a change, instead of giving in to the automatic sarcasm that he'd started using long ago as a defense mechanism.

And as she walked slowly and steadily with his arm around her shoulder she felt like she was closer to the real Rodney McKay now than she had ever been before.

Some people were angry drunks, or petty and likely to exaggerate, but he was unusual,: it seemed to bring out that core of him he went so far to protect, to conceal from everyone. She wished he wouldn't do that as much because he was very sweet like this. He gazed at her, giddily smiling and not paying any attention to where he was walking, and he stumbled bringing her down with him.

She got up quickly but found him still slumped at the wall, acting like a clown, a bright grin plastered across his face.
She tried to get him up but he laughed, not helping her efforts any.
She scowled at him, actually cross, getting sick of having to baby him.
His looked suddenly less innocent, eyes taking on a different quality.
"You look pretty when you're angry," he drawled in a tone she had never heard from him that made her feel something she had never related to him.
"And nice in red," he added, pointing his finger upwards to her top, losing the sly tone and going back to his previous childish innocence.
"I wear red everyday," she said, annoyed and gathered his arm around her shoulder once more, but giving him time to push himself up.
He steadied his body against hers as he got up and she blushed at the intense stare that met her as his face closed in towards hers and as he replied quietly, "Exactly."
His blue eyes didn't move from her green ones, simply watching her, before she broke the moment by trudging them both along the corridor.

"Here we are," she said cheerfully to the now groggy Rodney.
He staggered through with her, collapsing onto the bed face first.
She watched with a wry grin; he'd pay for this tomorrow with a hangover from hell, she thought.
But for now he was inordinately happy, having turned his face to watch her once again. It was beginning to unnerve her how he seemed to want to know her reaction to everything tonight.

She walked over, sitting him up carefully and undoing his shirt buttons.
"Better get you into bed, you're gonna want to sleep this off, I'm sure."
"Care to join me?" he said cheekily, grinning a little manically.
She couldn't believe her ears. She wasn't sure which was more odd, to hear him say it or that he had actually said it.
She did a double take, looking back to his face, distracted from her task, shirt only half off.
It was the second clichéd thing he'd said whilst they'd been alone, and she was more than sure he was flirting with her, not too unusual for their banter but he'd never been that direct before. This bordered on something inappropriate. If not for the fact he was staring at her in mock naivety and about to giggle.

She wanted to stare back at him and pretend to be offended, but she couldn't stay angry, or even act so, when he looked at her like that: carefree and open, joking without the heavy mask of sarcasm or irony.

Only then she noticed something about the way he was looking at her, his gaze flickering between her eyes and her lips as she undid the last button and motioned for him to remove his shirt.
He flung it across the room dramatically, looking back to her expectantly.
"Oh, no. You can handle the rest yourself, mister."
He pouted for at least the third time that evening.

"You should have thought of this before getting trashed on Athosian wine,." she said, chastising him for his actions, folding her arms across her chest resolutely.

She was about to walk out when he began on the problem himself, getting tangled up in his t shirt.
She stifled a laugh as he fumbled around, arms flailing, one still stuck inside; coming to his aide, she sat by his side.
She removed his shirt easily, finding herself quickly embraced in a grateful bear hug that caught her off guard. His strong arms laced around her, oddly comforting.
Finding it impossible to extract herself she let him hug her out, which took longer than she'd have thought.
They sat there for a minute, not breaking the silence.
She wondered what was going on in his overwhelmed mind.

Then they heard the voices, the countdown for New Years.

Grodin's strong voice booming out over everyone's else on the comms system.

He pulled away from her a fraction, arms still holding her near to him but not forcing her.

She felt his hand wipe back her hair from her face, brushing across her cheek tenderly.

The same hand trailing down around her neck, settling against the back of her head.

His eyes rested on her lips as he circled his thumb over the sensitive skin on her neck

His other hand pulling her closer, finding no resistance

She started to say something but found the words dying, her brain freezing, incapable of rational thought

Finally his eyes returned to hers, a passion flaring in their dark depths.

He leant in with no hesitation, as the countdown reached its end.

She thought she heard him whisper something right beforehand, the words lost in the general noise.

Cheers erupted, shouts of 'Happy New Year' and the beginning of the traditional song heard in the background.

But they were barely anything to her as she felt his lips meet hers, something that had been unexpected until seconds ago.
And just as quickly she felt his warmth recede, having lasted a few precious moments, a New Years Eve kiss she realised. Traditional, a little fun, but having opened up far more for her than mere pleasantness, seeing in their new year with sparks that shouldn't have been there, tempted by his plush gentle kiss, far more delicate than the words that came from the same mouth.

And now he landed back on the bed, already half asleep at, a beautiful smile on his face.
She touched her lips, remembering silently what had just happened, and then simply left quietly, only pausing to cover his half clothed body with a blanket and wondering whether he'd remember.

A/N: Companion piece coming soon, suggestions welcome on what you want to see.