Cancelled Reservations

Set about a year after Reserved for Two More (season ten/three). Mostly an Atlantis fic but crossover with SG-1. McKayKatie Brown, SamDan.

And I am in no way affiliated with MGM, the SciFi channel or anyone affiliated with Stargate. If I were, I'd be writing scripts, not fanfiction. I write for my own pleasure and anyway, I'm a poverty-stricken student, it's not worth suing me over.

Chapter One

Rodney made sounds that were close to a purr as Katie rubbed his back exactly the way he liked it. Not for the first time in the last year he was absolutely awed by his ability to catch and keep a woman like Katie. He kept waiting for her to take the blinders out and realise he wasn't worth her adoration. But no, she was with him almost every night, and most of his free time, always understanding how important his work was (in his least condescending tone he had pointed out that discovering and adapting technology to protect them from the Wraith was a little more important then studying plants), amusing herself with her friends and own work when he wasn't available and never getting petulant when he had to cancel on her – which he tried damn hard not to, more then he had with anyone else, ever.

He didn't realise that Katie knew this, far more then he knew it himself. He didn't realise Katie knew how much of an effort he made to be nice to her when he was tired, hungry or frustrated. He didn't realise how flattered she was that she could interrupt him while he was yelling at Zelenka, Becket or anyone else who got in his way and he would instantly be all smiles because he was absolutely devoted to her and keeping her happy – which included no yelling in her presence, let alone at her.

She had been flattered when, with previously-unknown tact he had explained in a very complimentary, easygoing way that while her work was very important, it wasn't quite as important to Atlantis's immediate survival as his was. She was flattered that, despite the obvious demands on his time, he managed to have most nights free for her – even if he did benefit from the backrubs that had dramatically improved his sleep. She knew that he slept better with her – something everyone Elizabeth down had commented on, because a well-rested Rodney was a much nicer Rodney. She was flattered everytime an attractive woman passed and he was completely blind to her. She loved the way he looked at her adoringly, even when he was tired, hungry and frustrated and would normally be yelling at anyone else who dared cross his path.

She knew he loved her, even if he didn't often say so. A man like Rodney McKay couldn't go through such a personality transformation – at least as far as she was concerned – without loving a person to distraction and wanting to make them happy. So even if he didn't say it often, she knew he loved her, so she did her best to make his life a little easier for him.

She had discovered shortly into their relationship that he suffered terrible neck and backaches caused by too much time spent hunched over a desk, trying to work out what this and that various piece of technology did and how they could reverse engineer it. This, in turn, was the major reason he slept so badly. Of course, they had trained physiotherapist for whom fixing such a problem would be a cinch, but Katie had quickly discovered Rodney had some major personal space issues. Without any fuss, she had taken on the roll of his personal masseuse, and ever since, he had looked at her a little more adoringly. That, and he always slept better when he slept with her in his arms.

She wasn't exactly put out with spending the night in his arms, either.

They had been together almost a year and for most of that time they had been lovers. She was aware that a nicer Rodney made for a more attractive Rodney – both as a friend and something more – which was emphasised by the increasing number of comments she was getting from women who envied Rodney's attentiveness towards her. But she never felt threatened, even when the comments came from some of the more sexually aggressive women of the expedition (it was funny how even in a situation like Atlantis, where imminent disaster was never far off, sexual predators were still sexual predators) because she knew like she knew Rodney that he had been absolutely faithful and that there was no-one who could tempt him from her.

Well, no-one in Atlantis at least. Or even Pegasus for that matter. But Katie had never quite gotten over the insecurity she felt towards Colonel Carter, specifically Rodney's previous infatuation with her. Doctor Jackson's revelations six months ago had done a lot to still her insecurities, as had Rodney's outright rejection of Carter when she'd come to Pegasus a few months before that, but Katie feared there would always be a part of her that would be insecure when it came to Carter.

Rodney knew this, and it was why he was reluctant to tell her he'd made plans to take the Daedalus to Earth the next time it docked in Atlantis – about a week from now. It was perfectly innocent, he wanted to see his sister again, he wanted to introduced her and Katie, he wanted to, on a purely professional level, touch base with Colonel Cater. And one other thing that he wasn't going to tell Katie about.

As tempting as it was, he knew it would be more hassle then it was worth to tell her after they'd had sex. She would see the manipulation for what it was and really give him what for over it – it was one of the things he loved about her. She might anticipate and cater to his needs, but she was no pushover.

So when she began to run kisses down his spine that guaranteed an instant hard-on, he reluctantly shrugged her off. Immediately she knew something was up. "I'm going to Earth in a week," he blurted out. "And I want you to come with me."

"Why do you want to go to Earth?" she asked, her insecurities playing up just a little. Colonel Carter was on Earth, and she bet that was at least part of the reason he was going. Carter was one of the few people who had ever come close to matching his intelligence and she supposed it was human nature to want to spent time with like-minded people – even if it had ended badly.

Rodney chose his words carefully. There was no getting around the fact he was looking forward to seeing Carter – professionally, that was – and to pretend he wasn't would be an insult to Katie's intelligence. "Caldwell and O'Niell think it's a good idea that Colonel Carter and I compare notes," he said cautiously. "And… I want to see Jeannie. And introduce you to her."

He wasn't lying about the trip to Earth being Caldwell and O'Neill's idea (although he was under the impression from Daniel that O'Neill absolutely hated him these days, something to do with Rodney being much better in bed, Daniel had said vaguely with the blood creeping to his cheeks) although the more he'd thought about it, the more he'd warmed up to the idea. He really did want to see his sister again and, quite honestly, it would be good to see Carter again. As nice as it was to be the Most Intelligent Man in the Galaxy, he missed sparring with someone almost equal to his intellect. That, and it was a stroke to his ego that he was still needed on Earth. He'd agreed, on the condition that Katie was allowed to come with him. The high command wasn't keen on lowly botanists using the Daedalus for visits, but it had been decided Rodney was needed badly enough that his girlfriend could come along for the ride.

Katie looked at him suspiciously. She would never admit it out loud, of course, but she would be quite happy if Rodney never saw Colonel Carter again. It didn't matter how practical it was for the Stargate Command's two most brilliant scientists to spent time together in a professional capacity, Katie didn't like the idea. But… Rodney wouldn't have invited her along – insisted that she be allowed to come with him – if his intentions weren't good. It would have been easy enough to say he'd been given no choice and to leave her in Atlantis for two weeks.

"You really want me to come?" she asked. To tell the truth, the idea of seeing her family again was tempting. When she had first come to Atlantis, she had been so excited at the prospect of studying the lands of a completely different galaxy and so flattered that she had been one of the chosen few to go that she hadn't really thought about what it would mean to leave all her family and friends behind. Oh, sure, she had made new friends, but nothing ever quite replaced family. No wonder Rodney was jumping at the bit to see Jeannie again ; she was missing her own family quite badly, and he had been in Atlantis twice as long as her.

He kissed her lightly on her mouth. "I don't know how I can be without you for two weeks," he admitted, looking a little embarrassed, like it was unmanly to admit such a thing. "I really want you to come with me."

It was hard to be insecure when he looked at her like that, so needy, so adoring. It wasn't just that she helped him sleep better – she made him happier, and he wasn't as happy when she wasn't around. No woman had made him feel the way Katie had, certainly not Colonel Carter.

"OK," she said shyly, thinking about how good it would be to meet Jeannie – and introduce Rodney to her family.

His eyes lit up. "Thankyou," he said, and he kissed her.

As usual when they were alone together, their kisses didn't stay just kisses, and an hour later they lay in bed together, basking in the afterglow of great sex. He nuzzled the back of her neck, planting kisses on her skin. "I love you," he murmured in one of the rare moments he was at ease with himself enough to say the words. He'd never thought he'd love someone, certainly not as much as he loved Katie. For sure, there was lust, infatuation, but not love. Love was messy. Love was complicated.

To hell with it. He loved Katie. Loved her so much he wanted to marry her.

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Once they got back to Earth, their first stop was to Canada so Rodney could introduce Katie to his sister. Jeannie McKay was delighted to see her brother again. His arrogance and short-temperedness had often aggravated the hell out of her in the past, but it was true that absence made the heart grow fonder, and she was delighted to see him again. Especially since he brought with him an attractive, intelligent woman who seemed to adore him. Jeannie had thought such a thing was impossible, but apparently miracles happened. She had long given up on her brother finding anyone special (although giving up on his fantasies of nailing that Samantha Carter would have been a nice start) so when it happened, she was delighted.

She continued to be delighted when she discovered that Katie Brown was, on top of being intelligent and attractive, a warm, kind-spirited women who showed a hint of feistiness – something she definitely needed when it came to dealing with Rodney. And she seemed to be dealing with him well. Where Rodney had previously been arrogant and short-tempered, he was attentive and even-tempered, almost humble. He constantly smiled at her, touched her gently in ways would have made a person who didn't know better think they'd been together for a month, not a year. Jeannie was impressed. This woman was really something if she had Rodney behaving like a human being for her.

"Do you think she liked me?" Katie asked nervously later that evening when she and Rodney had retired to his old room. He and Jeannie had grown up here, and technically it was both their house, but for all intents and purposes it was hers – after all, he didn't exactly live in the neighbourhood anymore. Even though he hadn't really lived here for several years, it was still an experience to be in Rodney's old room. There wasn't much on the walls, not even the periodic table or the kind of thing you would expect to see on the walls of a science geek. Considering he had creating a working nuclear bomb in elementary school, Katie supposed the periodic table was beneath him.

She was flattered Rodney had insisted their first stop would be to see his sister, even before going to Cheyenne Mountain. That had to make her a big priority in his life – even bigger the Samantha Carter. Her confidence had gotten quite a boost at that thought.

"Yeah," Rodney said noncommittally. He knew Jeannie liked her, but his thoughts were elsewhere.

And Katie knew it. Rodney had been distracted ever since she'd agreed to come back to Earth with him. He was stressed out about something – the knots in his back just wouldn't go away no matter how expertly she rubbed. Something was on his mind, and he didn't tell like what it was like he usually did. "What's up?" she asked casually.

"Nothing," he mumbled. Even lying face down he was a terribly liar. It pained her that he didn't open up to her – he usually loved to have a sympathetic ear about whatever, or whoever was bothering this time. But not this time – this time he was keeping his distractions to herself. She felt a twinge of resentment and wondered what had caused him to clam up.

"You're uptight, your back's all in knots," she pressed.

"I'm fine," he said, sounding anything but fine. He sounded stressed, distracted – and resentful that she should be prying. "Just drop it."

He had never used that tone on her. On others, but never on her, and never when he realised she was in earshot. She swallowed back the lump that was forming in her throat.

Rodney knew he had pushed her too far. He tried to roll over but she was straddling him and refusing to move. Whether she had done it consciously or not, she was in a position of power of him. He had to give her credit for that. "Katie, I'm sorry," he mumbled. "I'm just a little stressed out."

"About going to the Stargate Command?" Katie asked.

"Yeah." That would do as an excuse.

"About seeing Colonel Carter?"

He hadn't thought about it, but since she'd brought it up, he was kind of nervous about seeing Samantha again. "A little," he admitted.

It cut her more deeply then she cared to admit that he was nervous about seeing her. She would have much preferred him being indifferent. If he was nervous, that had to mean he had some kind of residual feelings for her. But… he had proven he loved her, proven he wasn't easily distracted by other women. She had to trust him.

"I trust you," she murmured, as much for own peace of mind as to reassure Rodney. "I love you."

Her words had the affect of relaxing him, although not for the reasons she thought. She thought he was troubled over seeing Carter again and telling him she trusted him had helped him relax ; he was actually nervous over wanting to marry her, and her telling him she loved him had done the trick. If she loved him, then at least she wouldn't throw his proposal back in his face.

"I love you too," he murmured. "So much." There was so much more he wanted to say, but it wasn't in his nature to be poetic and emotional. He just hoped Katie knew him enough to know what he meant. Under her gentle ministrations, he drifted off to sleep.

When she realised he'd finally fallen asleep, Katie left Rodney to it and went downstairs to make herself a cup of coffee. She shouldn't be drinking coffee this late, but she was too keyed up to sleep so she figured it wouldn't matter. Smiling to herself, she thought about Rodney as she made her way around the unfamiliar kitchen. She was really happy he'd brought her here. She couldn't wait for him to meet her family.

"Mugs are in the top shelf to the left," Jeannie's voice came from behind her. "And I'd love a coffee too, if that's what you're making."

"This late?" Katie asked automatically.

Jeannie grinned. "It's a McKay thing. We can be fixed up to a caffeine drip and still be able to sleep." Well, Rodney didn't sleep well, but that had been a Rodney thing for as long as she could remember. "Where is he?" she asked.

"He's asleep," Katie said nonchalantly, as if it was a common occurrence for Rodney to be asleep after such a short period of time and not a minor miracle.

Jeannie looked at Katie dubiously. She liked what she'd seen of the young woman so far, but that didn't seem like her brother at all. "Rodney doesn't sleep," she said simply. "He finds it really hard to relax."

Katie nodded. "I know. But it helps when I rub his back the way he likes."

Jeannie looked at Katie even more dubiously. "Rodney has personal space issues," she stated matter-of-factly. Years ago, their mother had tried introducing him to professional therapeutic massage as a means of alleviating his insomnia ; it had only made him more strung out.

Katie smiled knowingly. "I know," she said. It had been to her secret delight when a beautiful female scientist had thought the best way to get on Rodney's good side was through touch – leaning over him when he was sitting down, her hand on his shoulder, touching his arm in conversation. He had been especially cranky towards her for a week. Call her self-obsessed, but she liked knowing she was the only one Rodney allowed into his personal space, she liked knowing only she could have that affect on him. "But he doesn't seem to mind when I do it."

Jeannie looked impressed. "He must really like you if you have that affect on him," she said. It wasn't even about just liking her ; it was about the calming effect she had on him. And no-one had been able to calm Rodney to the point he could fall asleep in an hour – no-one.

Katie blushed. She was confident in Rodney's feelings for her, but she felt strange discussing them with his sister. She sop desperately wanted Jeannie to like her. "He does," she said. "But sometimes I worry."

"About…?" Jeannie prompted.

Katie had had no intention of telling Rodney sister about her insecurities, but for some reason, she felt at ease with the woman. "He had a crush on this woman for years, and I'm a little worried about him seeing her."

"You mean Sam Carter?" Jeannie asked. Katie nodded, and a little of the happiness in her eyes evaporated. Jeannie remembered Samantha, or at least Rodney babbling about her – how hot she was, how smart she was. "I thought he was over that."

"He is," Katie said. "It's just… he's seeing her next week, because of the work they do, and I'm worried…"

"He might be reminded of how much he lusted after her?" Jeannie offered. Katie nodded, looking sheepish. "I don't think it's anything to worry about. He's mad about you and besides, nothing came of his crush on Sam."

"That's the thing… he and Carter slept together," Katie blurted out. Needless to say, Jeannie looked surprised. "It was the night before he… left for this expedition," she said, aware that Jeannie hadn't been granted a clearance to know exactly what the Atlantis expedition was about. "She treated him pretty badly, it took him a while to get over it." She omitted the fact he'd called her Sam when he'd first kissed her ; there was no reason for Jeannie to know that. "When she found out about us, I guess it made her a little jealous because she came over and… tried to seduce Rodney." She said the last words in a whisper ; it had been almost a year but the feeling of dread she'd felt seeing Samantha go into Rodney's room had never quite left her. She could trust him with anyone but him.

Jeannie was surprised ; she had never thought Samantha returned Rodney's feelings, or at least his attraction. For a split moment, she couldn't help but wonder just how good in bed her brother was to inspire that kind of jealousy. "I don't think you have anything to worry about," Jeannie said generously. "I don't think you fully appreciate the disaster that has been Rodney's love-life. He's very fond of you and, if nothing else, he knows when he's onto a good thing. He won't be easily distracted."

Katie bit her lip. "There's something he's not telling me," she admitted. "He was really stressed out about something before more then usual. He usually tells me when something's up but tonight he was just…" she trailled off unhappily.

Jeannie patted her leg sympathetically. "Whatever it is, I'm sure he's got a good reason for not telling you," she said, hoping the sentiment was true. With more conviction she added, "No-one knows Rodney better then I do and believe me, he adores you, you can put your faith in that."

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"Sleep well?" Jeannie asked Rodney sweetly when she saw him the next day. He did look rather well-rested, much more so then the Rodney she had known two years ago who was usually too worked up about something or other to get a good night's sleep. Katie must be something pretty special if she could make him relax like that. Jeannie hoped Rodney wouldn't do anything stupid to sabotage that.

"Fine," Rodney said.

"I spoke to Katie last night, she seems really sweet."

"She is," Rodney agreed. "She puts up with a lot from me."

Rodney McKay, more or less admitting he could sometimes be a right ass? Sweet and humbling, Jeannie thought. The more she found out about Katie, the more she liked the woman who had captured her brother's heart – and was taking excellent care of it.

There was an awkward silence before Rodney scrounged up the courage to blurt out, "Jeannie, d'you still have mum's engagement ring?"

The question came as such as a shock that Jeannie had to think about it for a few seconds. It had been a matter of practicality that Jeannie and not Rodney had inherited their mother's jewellery. "Um, yeah," she said after a pause.

"Can I have it?" he asked.

"What for?"

"You know what I want it for," Rodney said. He was starting to look very nervous – and feel it, too. His hands felt sweaty and his throat felt dry, and this was Jeannie he was talking to. It was going to be hell, talking to Katie. His stomach started to knot up at the mere thought.

Jeannie smiled in delight. "That's what you were so uptight about last night?" she asked. Rodney looked blank. "I had a chat with Katie last night, after you fell asleep. She's a bit worried because you were distracted about something and you wouldn't tell her what."

Rodney looked indignant. "Like I was going to tell her I wouldn't relax because I was nervous about proposing to her?" he blurted out. It was the first time he had verbalised his intentions and it was scary to hear the words spoken out loud. His stomach knotted a little more.

Jeannie smiled. She figured it was time to put Rodney out of his misery ; her brother looked thoroughly strung-out. "You can have it," she said. "Is that the reason you came back?"

"Part of it," he admitted. "I really do need to touch base with Sam Carter. But… I wanted to propose and I didn't want a store-bought ring. I mean, I know mum's ring was store-bought but that's not the same and…"

"I get it," Jeannie said with a laugh. Secretly, she was impressed Rodney had thought of something so sentimental. Katie must really be making inroads on him. "How long are you staying for, by the way?"

"A few days," he said. "Then we're going to see Katie's family in West Virginia. After that I have to go to Colorado because of the airforce… I was hoping you'd come with me. I don't have an awful lot of time free but I'd like to spend as much of it with you as I can."

Jeannie looked at her brother, momentarily speechless. She had gotten his message from a year and a half ago saying he'd wished he'd known her better, but she hadn't taken it seriously. After all, Rodney was self-absorbed and didn't have much time for people of lesser intellect. She wondered just what he'd gone through in this secret mission of his that had made him so mellow. "I'd like that," she said.

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"Rodney, what up with you?"

"Nothing," Rodney mumbled, averting his eyes so he wouldn't have to look into Katie's concerned ones. He had been looking for the right moment to propose for the last four days and it hadn't come. In the mean time, his nervousness was wreaking havoc with his ability to function. He was having trouble concentrating, was losing track of conversations going around him, and, most apparent to Katie, was having trouble performing. He had been indifferent to sex since they'd gotten to her family's house two days ago, and tonight, when she'd pinned him down for a much-needed makeout session, nothing she did could galvanise him into action.

It wasn't a problem she was unfamiliar with. When Rodney was distracted by something – usually work – he was often too stressed out for sex straight away. Katie had learnt to work with his body's – and mind's – needs to turn him on, and she had never failed. Until now. Now, she was failing miserably. Not only could she not elicit a hard-on, she could feel his kisses were only half-hearted… like his mind was elsewhere.

She gently disentangled herself from him. "Something's up," she addressed him matter-of-factly. "I know you. You're usually jumping at the opportunity of sex."

He bit his lip nervously and wiped his hands against his pants for the fifth time in an hour. He was acting like he had between their first kiss and the first time they'd had sex ; nervous, distracted, uptight. Something was definitely up. "I have something I need to get off my chest," he blurted out. "And I don't know how you're gonna react." He bit his lip harder and looked into her eyes. She was attentive, and concerned. Well, at least she wouldn't laugh at him, even if she did reject him… oh, God, the thought of rejection made his stomach knot up painfully until he thought he was going to throw up. "I – I –" the seconds clicked by in agonising slowness as he grappled for the right words to say. He had rehearsed this in his head a thousand times but all his words abandoned him.

His mobile phone interrupted his fumbled attempts to propose ; it rang in his ears like a siren. Nervously, she answered it. It was General Landry. "Major Carter's discovered what she thinks is Ancient technology that can't defeat the Ori," he said. "Only she can't figure it out on her own. We'd really appreciate it if you'd come in a bit earlier, that is, if you weren't doing anything else."

No, I was only trying to propose to my girlfriend, Rodney thought. "Can you send someone to pick me up?" he asked, and gave Landry Katie's address. He pressed the disconnect button and looked at Katie apologetically. "I'm sorry, that was Landry. He wants me at Cheyenne Mountain to look at something. It's important."

"Wait – what were you going to say?" Katie asked. Right now she wanted to throttle General Landry. She didn't care if the Ori were about to invade Earth this very minute, something was up with Rodney and he'd just been about to tell her until they'd been interrupted.

Rodney tried to smile, except it came out as more of a grimace. The moment had been lost – if it had been the right moment at all. There would be some other time. "It's not important," he said. Katie didn't buy it for a second. If it wasn't important, his hands wouldn't be clammy and his kisses wouldn't be distant.

She walked him outside and waited with him to be picked up. He talked about the Ori, and reverted to arrogant-scientist McKay. He was trying to keep his mind off his aborted proposal by focusing on his work and how brilliant he was and how he was going to save the world in the same way he saved Atlantis – He kissed her distractedly when an airforce armoured vehicle drove up. "I'll call you when I'm done," he promised. He hoped the next time he saw her the right moment would come along. He fingered the ring box in his pocket. God, he hoped the right moment came along.

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Seeing Samantha again was something of a shock to the system. It had been a year, and she looked much happier – clearly, Doctor Jackson was good for her. She looked much more beautiful when she was happy. Rodney suddenly remembered his fondness for blonds.

"Rodney," she greeted him warmly. "It's good to see you again. How life in Pegasus?"

"Not bad, given we have intergalactic vampires on our backs constantly," Rodney said, but he didn't seem to perturbed about the fact. He would never admit that he liked the fact there were intergalactic vampires out there threatening their very existence, but he kind of got a kick out of knowing they were being kept so efficiently at bay in part because of his efforts.

"I'll trade your intergalactic vampires for malevolent ascended beings," Samantha said dryly. It was strange, being on equal terms with Rodney like this. The last time they had seen each other she'd been screaming at him… the time before that she'd been screaming at least… and all the times before that had involved a clash of their intellect. She had found him arrogant and boorish. Now, after having spent all of a minute with him, she was seeing a warmer, more human side of him. She wished she had known that Rodney McKay all along.

She felt just the slightest twinge of resentment that someone with such a lower intellect – relatively speaking – had brought out his warmer side. Rodney had never acted human because of her. He had belittled her, made her scream with passion and sulked like a little boy when she had thrown him out in the morning, but he had never acted human.

"Where's Daniel?" Rodney asked. He was aware of how much prettier she looked when she was happy, and he wanted to know where the source of that happiness was. It would make him feel better to know her boyfriend was around here somewhere. He was started to remember their night of passion together. He'd been unable to perform for Katie but he felt he would be able to perform for Samantha, and that thought scared the crap out of him.

"Offworld," Samantha said, biting her lip. She didn't like being separated from Daniel, but there was nothing they could do about it, short of both staying on Earth. Which neither of them wanted to do. Landry had compromised by mostly scheduling them to be offworld at the same time – which meant they were on Earth at the same time – but she hated being separated from him for such long periods of time. Her experiences with Jack had taught her to be distrustful of a man who is quite happy to spend long periods of time away from the woman he claims to love.

"You didn't complain hard enough," Rodney said with a smirk. "Katie was determined to go offworld and I was equally determined she should either stay on Atlantis or in my line of sight. I think Elizabeth let us be on the same team just to make us stop whingeing."

Very self-depreciating, it suited him. Reminded her a little of Daniel. Maybe that's what the initial attracted between her and Rodney had been ; her subconscious telling her to go for a man like Rodney then a man like Jack. It was a very pleasant change to the Rodney McKay she had known.

Suddenly she remembered the Rodney McKay who had physically thrown her off him, refusing to be seduced. Men rarely turned her down and it had been something of a turn-on. That made her remember their night together, and that was getting into dangerous territory.

They stared at each other for a few moments before Rodney broke the silence with, "What have you got?"

Samantha showed him to her lab, where she had a device that looked a little like a small gun. "As far as I can tell, it's a device invented by the Ancients with the express purpose of killing the Ori."

"Not as neutral as they claimed to be, huh?" Rodney asked.

"Not when it came to their own survival," Samantha said. They had yet to work out of the Ori were related to the Ancients like the Wraith were or were completely separate entities that had reached the same place of existence, but at any rate, the Ori were enemies of the Ancients. So the Ancients had invented a few weapons of their own to deal with the Ori. "It can turn an ascended being into physical matter. It takes the process of descension – what happened to Daniel – and concentrates it into a single blast. After that, you can take them out with whatever weapon happens to be available."

Rodney whistled in appreciation as to the magnitude of such a weapon. If they could mass-produce it, the Ori were history. "Anubis would have searched the ends of the universe for this," he said.

Samantha grinned. "That's actually how we found it. Daniel worked out that Anubis had been scouring the universe for a weapon that could descend the Ancients, essentially make them human. It was really plain bad luck and a little illiteracy that was the reason Anubis didn't find it – Anubis was a few characters out in his estimations. It took Daniel a year to correct the mistake and after that, it was plain sailing."

Rodney handled the weapon gently. So much potential from such a small weapon. "How do you know how it works?" he asked. She had sounded pretty certain when she had explained its use.

Samantha's grin grew wider. "We tested it out on a few of them," she admitted. Oh, that had been a good day. The Ori hadn't known what had hit them. Only now they needed to work quickly before they well and truly lost the advantage.

"If you know it works why do you need me?" he asked.

"Because it was the only one we could find, and we don't know how much power it has stored up. I need your help in reverse engineering it and making a couple of them. Well, a couple hundred would be better, but I figure once we get the first copy done we're free and clear."

"And here was me thinking you wanted me for my good looks and charming personality," Rodney muttered playfully. Secretly, he was delighted. There weren't many times when an opportunity like this came along – he got to play with alien technology years and years ahead of them and do it with a woman who was almost a match for his intellect. He loved Katie, but she just wasn't a match for him.

For two days Rodney and Samantha survived on caffeine and adrenaline as they worked at the weapon, bouncing ideas off each other and working steadily towards their goal. To an outsider, it seemed like what they were doing was thoroughly boring – not to mention spoken in a different language – but they were having the time of their lives. They both forgot about their respective partners – Daniel, oblivious offworld and Katie, at her parent's home and wondering what the hell was up with Rodney – and concentrated on each other. It was true that intelligence was an aphrodisiac, at least for the two of them in that marathon merging of brains.

Finally, they thought they had a working copy. Of course, they wouldn't actually know until a team was sent through the gate to go Ori-hunting, but they were both confident it would work.

"In the meantime," Landry said as they talked excitedly between themselves in techno-babble that no-one but them could understand, "I want you both to get some rest."

"We want to go offworld and see if it works!" Rodney said indignantly. Samantha just nodded and looked cross that after all their hard work, they were being excluded from the fun.

"You're both exhausted, or you should be," Landry said. "Home. Now."

They glared at him together, and Landry hated to think what revenge their combined IQs could come up with if they so desired it – especially if the device did work, and they didn't get to see the results of their efforts. But there was no arguing with Landry ; they had to be on edge, despite the fact they were both bright and energetic. That's what forty-eight hours on caffeine and adrenaline did to you. "I don't suppose you can give me a lift home?" he asked Samantha hopefully. He could have asked for an airforce car to take him home, of course, but he wanted to spent a little more time with Samantha.

"You wanna go right home or you wanna finish off a carton of beer I've got?" Samantha asked. Much to her surprise, she'd had a good time with Rodney, so much that she'd forgotten about Daniel, let alone was missing him desperately. The truth was, she loved Daniel, but he just wasn't at her level intellectually – as least not when it came to astrophysics.

He really should get back to Katie, who was no doubt frantic by now, but to his surprise, he was having a good time with Samantha – so much that he'd forgotten about Katie, let alone how nervous he was about proposing to her. The truth was, he loved Katie , but she just wasn't at his level intellectually. "Sure," he agreed. He considered it doing Katie a favour. If he went home to her now, he'd be wired and talking a mile a minute about things she didn't understand, and she'd feel bad because she didn't understand.

"Great," she said, sounding a little too enthusiastic. This was Rodney, after all. Rodney who had been the bane of her existence for three years. Rodney who had been responsible for the break-up of her relationship with Jack – in a roundabout way, at least.

Oh, who was she kidding? Rodney McKay was hardly bad-looking, actually he was quite good-looking in a geeky, unassuming way. And he had a brilliant mind – more brilliant then hers, which was such a rarity that it was something of a turn on. Not to mention his newfound sense of humility.

Two hours later – and most of a carton of beer – and they were old friends. Somehow she'd migrated from being in a separate chair to curled up against him on the couch like a girlfriend – or a lover. She was starting to be very sorry that Rodney was leaving so soon, he was fun to be with. He was intelligent, he was funny… he was brilliant in bed. She was having trouble remembering the last time she'd had sex and Rodney was looking very tempting right now.

He'd always had a thing for blonds, ever since primary school. And he'd been attracted to Samantha from the first moment he laid eyes on her. She had been almost his equal and hot to boot. He loved being around her, she made him forgot about his nerves, and the fact she was incredibly hot didn't hurt.

They were drunk and the more they drank and the more they talked and connected, the more the chemistry between them was obvious. So when Rodney asked her how her relationship with Daniel was going, she made a face, hating to be reminded that she had a boyfriend and she was in a really inappropriate situation that felt so damn good. "It's really hard," she admitted. "I hate that he goes offworld. I hate that I can't be with him. I remember how many women were interested in him, he just attracted them like magnets. I hate not being there to… warn them off."

"You mean to monitor him?" Rodney offered. Samantha shrugged. It all meant the same to her. Rodney was drunk and had never been that insightful, but he could see her relationship with Jack had affected her trust in men. "I wouldn't worry about it. Daniel loves you."

"Jack loved me too," Samantha pointed out. The alcohol was definitely getting to her ; she was becoming maudlin.

"He couldn't have loved you, or else he was a fool," Rodney declared. God, how anyone could play around on this beautiful, brilliant creature who had somehow found her way into his arms was beyond him.

Samantha smiled, her constant insecurities soothed just a little. "You're just being nice," she accused him playfully.

"I am not," he said indignantly. What was it with people when he tried to be sensitive, they thought he was joking? "You're a fantastic woman and anyone who can't see that is a fool who doesn't deserve you."

She wasn't sure what possessed her, only that, at that very moment, it felt right. She kissed Rodney.

He didn't pull away. In the first second after her lips met his, he was shocked. A million thoughts ran though his head, most of them about Katie. After that second, any thoughts of fidelity gave way under the heat he was generating with the brilliant, beautiful woman who was all over him.

They began kissing passionately. Samantha straddled him and they started making out, all thoughts of their partners forgotten. To stop and ask questions about what each other wanted was pointless ; it was obvious from their breathless kisses and frantic attempts to get clothes off what they wanted. For a few hours, they were moth sufficiently distracted by each other to be concerned about the consequences of their actions.