Title: The Worst Hallucination Ever

Author: Kate McCaye

Rating: K/PG

Pairing: S/J

Spoilers: General SG1 Season 9, Stargate Atlantis: Grace Under Pressure

Summary: On a trip back to Earth, Rodney decides to stop by and thank Sam for 'saving' him in the flooding jumper. Yes, this one takes all the S/J hints and runs with them.

A/N: This was my first time to write McKay and Mitchell, so feedback would be especially treasured this time.

The Worst Hallucination Ever

Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell was getting changed to go home for the weekend when the locker room door opened and Daniel Jackson entered. "Uh… Cameron?"

"Not going home?" Mitchell guessed.

"What? No, you're still free to go. No emergencies. At least… no base-related ones."

"What does that mean?" Mitchell asked, sitting down on the bench to put his shoes on.

"Did you… by any chance run into any of the people who came back on the Daedelus?"

"Just the geek… head geek, what's his name? McKay?"

"Yeah, that would be the one. Dr. Lam said she saw you talking to him."

"Yeah. Well mostly he did the talking, man that guy can hit a lot of words in a minute. He reminds me of the guy who did those commercials for MicroMachines, remember those little buggers?" Daniel's blank look made him continue. "Ah, you don't remember MicroMachines, they were great, man, tiny little cars small enough to shove up your sister's nose, not quite small enough to get out of your sister's nose without a trip to the emergency room… Anyway the guy who did the commercials…"

"Talked fast?" Daniel guessed.

"Yeah."

"Yeah, great, listen. Cameron. This is important. What. Did. You. Tell. Him."

"Nothing, really, he just wanted to get Sam's address."

"Did you give it to him?"

"I don't know Sam's address off the top of my head, Daniel, you guys haven't started taking me up on my team night offers yet so I don't know where any of you live, except for Teal'c, of course, because he lives here…"

"What are you talking about, Teal'c and I have done all kinds of stuff with you on our down time…"

"Team night, Jackson. Generally means the whole team."

"Look, we don't get a lot of free time and when we do, Sam…"

"Doesn't want to spend it with us. Gotcha."

"Look, we can talk about this more later, but right now I just need to know one thing from you. What did McKay do when you told him you didn't know Sam's home address."

"He left muttering to himself."

"Where was he going?"

"Uh, the gate room, I think. Control room, probably."

"Great. Thanks. I have to go." Daniel turned on his heels quickly and headed out, then stopped and turned back round again. "Teal'c's been bugging me about going to see the new King Kong movie. You want to go tomorrow?"

"Sounds good."

"Great. I'll call you later, after I… deal with this."

"O…kay." Cameron watched Daniel hurry off and said to the empty locker room, "What the hell was that about?"

vvvvvvvvvvvvv

Daniel found Walter and a few other technicians in the control room. "Hey guys. What's up?"

They all turned to look at him like they thought maybe a Daniel from one of the alternate realities had accidentally been left behind a few weeks ago. Walter offered, "Not much, Dr. Jackson. Skeleton crew, you know, no excitement planned for the nearby future…"

"Yeah. Well, uh, did any of you talk to the people from Atlantis? Specifically Dr. McKay?"

"No… but he came in here and used one of the computers for a few minutes," Walter said.

"That's… just great," Daniel said, mostly to himself. "Thanks, guys. Have a good weekend."

He ran into Teal'c in the hallway. "Well, Teal'c, it looks like it's out of our hands."

"We could not reasonably expect to protect Colonel Carter forever."

"I wasn't trying to protect her, I was trying to protect the poor guy."

"I see. Then you are correct. It is out of our hands."

vvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Rodney McKay sat nervously in the backseat of a taxi. "Buddy, you getting out or what?" the driver asked impatiently.

"Uh, yeah. I uh… it's just… are you sure this is the right address?"

"It's the one you gave me."

"It's just… I mean I assumed she had an apartment somewhere that she never went home to because she was always at work and… well this doesn't look like the sort of house she'd pick out if she had a house and I can't see her driving a truck, so…"

"This is the address you gave me. Do you want me to wait?"

"No… no. Thank you." He paid the man and got out, then stood in front of the neat one-story house, taking in the large pickup in the driveway and neatly manicured lawn. He took a deep breath and walked up to the door, hesitated for several moments, and knocked.

vvvvvvvvvv

Sam Carter opened the door with a pleasant look on her face that turned to confusion when she saw who was standing in front of her.

Whatever Rodney had meant to say went out of his head when she opened the door. The sweatpants weren't all that special, but the little blue camisole was a lot more revealing than what he'd imagined. "God you're a lot hotter in person than you are in my head."

He realized, as she shut the door in his face, that that probably wasn't the best way to greet her. He banged his head against the door, which did not help the lingering bruise on his forehead, and called hopefully, "Sam? Uh, sorry about that, I can explain… I mean… can I talk to you please?"

She opened the door again, this time with a huge, well-worn Air Force Academy sweatshirt hastily pulled on so quickly that she was still rolling up the sleeves so she could use her hands. Rodney frowned at the shirt. In addition to being huge, the year on it was all wrong, unless she'd gone to some Air Force Academy Elementary School. "McKay, stop looking at my chest, what's the matter with you?"

"Sorry… is that your dad's?"

"What? No… shut up, McKay." She leaned against the doorframe, refusing to open the door more any wider, and said, "Shouldn't you be in Atlantis?"

"Oh, you know, you almost die, you can sometimes get a vacation out of it. I came to see you."

"Why?"

"I wanted to thank you."

"Why?"

"For saving my life."

"O…kay. Sure. No problem. See you later."

"Are you hurt?" McKay asked suddenly, looking her up and down. "You don't look hurt."

"That's because I'm not."

"Sick?"

"Nope."

"Then… how come you're not at work?"

"It's Saturday morning," she said, as though she were letting him in on a big secret.

"I know, but… you're Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter. You're always at work."

Her response was a bit harsh, even by their standards, but she was still smarting from the wildly inappropriate way he'd greeted her. And, truth be told, she'd never completely forgiven him for the 'dumb blonde' remark the first time she'd met him. She smirked as she replied, "And you're Rodney McKay, always… very… McKay. So. Now that we've confirmed who we are, if you don't mind, I have a day. Oh, and just a word of advice, when you go home, if I were you I'd try not to blow up any more solar systems…"

"Yes, thank you, that had occurred to me as well. If I recall from SGC files, you blew one up yourself."

"Hey, I blew up that star deliberately to destroy a Goa'uld fleet."

"Point taken. Listen, believe it or not, I didn't come here to argue. I really want to talk to you. Please."

Sam sighed and stepped aside, opening the door all the way. "Make it quick."

He looked around the house as he stepped into the foyer. "You live here? This doesn't look like you. There's no pink."

"Pink? Who sent you, Martha Stewart? Kitchen's this way. The bump on your head will get you one cup of coffee before my sympathy officially runs out."

He followed her into the kitchen and sat down in the chair she directed him to. "Did you read the report about what happened to me?"

"Yeah. The jumpers can be used as submersibles. Very cool, actually," she said as she started a pot of coffee. "Apart from the part where you were trapped underwater." She stopped by the sink and said, "I'm sorry about Griffin."

"Yes, I was too," he said, looking so uncharacteristically sincere for a few moments that Sam actually paused.

"Colonel Sheppard used one of my ideas to save you, I hear," Sam said.

"What do you mean your idea?"

"When I was stuck on the Prometheus a few years ago I expanded the subspace bubble around the ship to get mine and another one out."

"That's not the same at all."

"Same principle," she said with a shrug.

"Oh it is not, it's completely different…"

"Oh please. Ask Colonel Sheppard if you don't believe me. But that is where he got the idea."

"Well, then in that case thank you again."

"You're welcome. Again. So, did you come here to finally admit that I'm smarter than you?"

"We've already had this conversation."

"No we haven't."

"Yes we have. That's why I'm here. You were there."

"Where?"

"In the jumper. With me."

"No I wasn't."

"I know that."

"But you just said…"

"I know what I said. I hallucinated you to help me figure out what to do."

"Ah, so you hallucinated someone smarter than you…"

"We've already had that conversation too. Please just… let me talk."

"Fine. But McKay?" She set a cup of coffee down in front of him and went back for her own, leaning against the kitchen counter and taking a sip.

"Yes?"

"That one cup of coffee time limit was mine, not yours."

"Yes, I can see you're so busy on your day off that you haven't even had time to get dressed, I'd hate to waste any of your obviously precious time before I get on a two-week shuttle back to Atlantis…"

"Rodney," she said in a warning tone. "Why are you here?"

"Okay. Hear me out. I knew you weren't there, obviously, I wasn't that crazy. Which, I might add, took many sessions with Dr. Heitmeyer to prove because Sheppard just had to tell Elizabeth I was mumbling your name when they found me… That's not point. The point is, you helped me. And I still refused to listen to you even after I'd gone to the trouble of hallucinating you in the first place…"

"Wait. You were hallucinating me."

"Yes."

"McKay, so help me if I was naked…"

"No, no, fully clothed," McKay said quickly. "At first at least."

She looked like she was about to throw him out, so he held up a hand again and said, "Sadly, my imagination had some… trouble overcoming the reality of, well, reality. That was one of the many things we argued about, actually, it was quite interesting…"

"I'm sure. Look, can we just skip to the part that led you to decide coming here and telling me about any of this was a good idea?"

"Oh. Sure. Wait. You don't think I'm crazy?"

"Crazy? No," Sam said succinctly. She wasn't about to tell McKay about her similar experience on the Prometheus, during the very incident she'd just mentioned. Concussed, she'd hallucinated everyone she'd needed to help her save herself too. But it was a very personal experience she definitely didn't want to discuss with him, no matter how many surface similarities it had to his recent experience. "Creepy, yes. Crazy though… no."

"Oh. Well, that's… something. Okay. One of the things you were right about was your assessment of me as… well, mean. Petty, arrogant, bad with people, all those things. And it's not like I've never heard any of that before, but hearing it from you… or rather, from a manifestation of you that I was subconsciously creating… I really listened to it. For the first time."

"That's nice," Sam said with a forced smile. "But I still don't see what any of that has to do with me. I mean, you know it wasn't me actually talking, it was you."

"Yes, but it was based on you. So I wanted you to know that I listened. I did what you said. I trusted Colonel Sheppard… well, sort of. Anyway, I trusted you. Eventually."

"The me you were creating in your mind."

"Yes. We've established that, can we move on?"

"No, actually, we can't, because I highly doubt that the me of your creepy imagination is really me, me."

"Maybe not exactly the same, but close enough for it to mean something. Look. I think you're great. Amazing, really. You know that. And I know you might find this hard to believe but… I really did listen to what you were saying, and I'm going to try to… take that into further consideration. So I was wondering if you'd maybe… want to go out sometime? I swear I won't be more arrogant than I genuinely have the right to be and…"

"Rodney, please, let me just stop you right now," Sam interrupted in a softer tone than she'd been using the whole time. "I'm sorry, but… it's just never going to happen."

"But… when I asked you before you said it was because I was arrogant, stubborn, and mean."

"Those are all very good and legitimate reasons, Rodney, but those were your reasons why I wouldn't go out with you. And… while you really do seem to have changed a lot… well, a little bit at least… since you've gone to Atlantis, you're still only thinking about yourself… even when you're hallucinating me, apparently."

"That's not true, I… wait, what?"

"Did it ever occur to you that I might have my own reasons for not being interested in you that have absolutely nothing to do with you at all?"

"I… what?"

She took a deep breath and gave him a pitying smile. "McKay, I'm…"

"Not trying to make pancakes again, are you Carter? I don't think I kept that card from the industrial cleaning service we had to use last time," a loud, definitely male voice called in a joking tone of voice before Jack O'Neill entered the kitchen.

McKay stared. Jack stared. Sam cleared her throat, wondering how long it would take Jack to realize he was standing there in nothing but his Simpsons shorts.

"General O'Neill?" McKay finally asked, looking back and forth between the two of them so many times it finally ceased to be funny and was just rather pitiful. For someone who claimed to be smarter than her, Sam couldn't help but think it was taking him an awfully long time to connect the very obvious dots here.

"McFly," Jack greeted. Sam hid a smile in her coffee mug, knowing full well he knew the name of Atlantis's head scientist.

"McKay," Rodney corrected automatically.

"Right, that's what I said." Since McKay was apparently basically speechless - for probably the first time in his life - Jack turned to Sam instead. "What's he doing here?"

"He ah… came to thank me. For helping him solve their recent jumper problem. Apparently, I was right."

"You're always right," Jack shrugged dismissively. "But as far as I know… and this is something I should really know since I am in charge of Homeworld Security… you haven't been to Atlantis."

"Hallucination," Sam explained, as though that said it all. "Uh, Jack?" She looked down at his shorts pointedly and back up at him.

"What?"

"Pants?"

"Right. See? She's always right, McCoy." Jack disappeared to get some clothes.

Sam turned her attention back to Rodney. "I'm sorry, Rodney, I was trying to tell you in a nicer way, but you weren't really giving me much of a chance…"

"You. You. And him? But he's… I mean, you're so… and he's so… not that I'd finish any of these sentences because he could obviously damage me severely but I thought you were too smart to be attracted by the whole tough-guy, scruffy, messy-haired… thing, I mean if you're not immune to that sort of thing, what normal w…"

Jack came back in wearing the first clothes he could find - crumpled jeans and the black tee-shirt he'd had on under his sweater the night before. To be fair, it was probably still pretty clean - he hadn't exactly worn it long. He did indeed look very scruffy. Sam couldn't help but smile fondly at him as he ran a hand through his already messy hair and asked, "So. What did I miss?"

"McKay was just saying he thinks I'm too smart for you," Sam said casually.

"I… I didn't mean it like that," McKay said quickly, looking extremely nervous. "Sir… General… sir…"

Jack laughed as he got himself a cup of coffee. "No offense taken, McDuff. You're absolutely right."

"That's… I am?"

"Yeah. Of course, you know, she's way too smart for you too."

"Well, that's… debatable. You see, it's not so much that she's more intelligent so much as wiser…"

"Well, to the rest of us idiots that distinction doesn't mean a whole lot. Sam, is he staying for breakfast?"

"No," Sam said quickly, while Rodney said, "Breakfast? It's nearly eleven, you haven't… and you were just… oh. Oh God. Well, this is… embarrassing. To say the least. I guess you were right. I was right… my hallucination was right. At any rate."

"Hallucination?" Jack asked. "That's the second time that's been mentioned - not counting your little message in that data burst last year. Now, McKay, you do realize that I'm a few rungs up the ladder from Weir. Should I be concerned that Atlantis's lead scientist is having hallucinations?"

"No, no. They were a one-time thing, I assure you. Hopefully. And I knew I was hallucinating the whole time, so that's a clear indication that I'm not really crazy. After all, crazy people don't know they're crazy, right?"

"I'm not so sure about that."

"General O'Neill, I assure you I'm fully capable of doing my job and I've been cleared by the resident shrink on Atlantis so …"

"I'm just teasing you, McFly, relax."

"Right. Great. Are you related to Colonel Sheppard by any chance, because… never mind. Thank you. I just…"

"Okay, then, as your boss I can't object to your job performance… overall at least, I wasn't too happy with that report about the destroyed solar system, but everyone's entitled to one mistake - or so Sheppard and Colonel Carter tell me..."

"Really? Colonel Sheppard said… and Sam, you stood up for…"

"I wasn't really done yet, Macbeth."

"Okay, now I know that one was intentional." Jack gave him a stern look. He swallowed hard. "Sorry. General. Sir."

"As I was saying, as your boss I have no real complaints… but I'm afraid that as a man I am going to have to ask you to stop fantasizing about my wife."

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Several very long, very quiet minutes later, Jack turned to Sam and asked, "Did I kill him, or is he always that pale?"

"No, he's always that pale. Not always that quiet though… go call him a cab, please."

"All right."

"And… stay out there and watch for it?" He gave her a grumpy look. "Please?"

"Fine."

When he left, Rodney buried his face in his hands. "I'm the idiot. Metaphorically, of course, not in terms of actual…"

"McKay, shut up and listen for a minute. I don't get a lot of free time, as you oh-so-kindly pointed out earlier, so no offense, but I'm only going to give you a little bit more of my weekend. Now, I read all the reports on this whole thing, so I do know what happened. Beyond that I really don't want a lot more detail of what you might have hallucinated, because frankly, the idea is very disturbing. But I do believe what you were saying about recognizing those things about yourself that would… turn any normal human being off of you. Whether or not overcoming those specific tendencies will cause me to be interested in you in that way is irrelevant. The point is, you may have just figured out how to make yourself smarter. Or at least, more accessible as a human being.

So, just because the me that actually exists won't date you doesn't mean that those suggestions you imagined me making are worthless. Start with being a little bit more friendly to the people around you. Especially Dr. Zalenka. Treat it like an experiment if you have to, but put your brain towards figuring out how to interact with people without offending or repulsing them and then maybe ask out somebody who isn't three million light years away and isn't happily married, and just… take it easy. And stop hallucinating about me. Or at least stop telling people about it, for crying out loud! Life or death situations are one thing, but do you know how many people on the base saw that stupid video recording Lieutenant Ford made last year?I'm still getting crap about it."

"That wasn't supposed to get sent, I had… changed my mind. But I get your point."

"Oh, and Rodney?"

"What?"

"One more thing. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep all this to yourself. It's not really a secret or anything and it's totally legal, but there aren't a lot of people who know about us being married, so if you wouldn't mind…"

"Sure. Of course. No problem. It's not like we live in the same galaxy anyway, but… of course. Just… so I don't accidentally… who does know?"

"General Hammond, the President, Teal'c, and Daniel."

"That's it?"

"Well I highly doubt you'll be running into our goddaughter anytime soon, so basically, yeah."

"Huh." He would have commented further, but the sound of a cab honking out front interrupted.

They both got to their feet as Jack called, "Cab's here!" unnecessarily.

They headed for the door, McKay still talking, of course. "Well, okay, this didn't exactly work out how I'd predicted, although it sort of did, actually, because even when I was hallucinating you you kept turning me down and… anyway. It was nice working with you again, Sam."

"Even though I was a figment of your imagination."

"You've really got to get past that technicality."

She would have opened the door for him then, but Jack was already standing there with it wide open. She gave him a brief, completely ineffectual scowl (they tended to lose their effectiveness when the corners of her mouth were turned up defiantly in a partial smile) for the way he was all-but physically booting McKay out into the yard, and said, "Goodbye, McKay."

He nodded in that nervous way of his to General O'Neill - although to be fair, under the circumstances, pretty much anyone would have been a little awkward at this point. There weren't exactly typical rules of custom and etiquette one could easily refer to for such a strange situation. What was he supposed to say, 'Sorry I hallucinated your wife when I got a concussion… and accidentally told everyone at the SGC on a video recording that I…' Rodney couldn't even complete the sentence in his own head while standing in front of General O'Neill.

Although Rodney would have been the first to admit that he was incredibly dense when it came to relationships… or even basic human interaction… he still couldn't wrap his head around the idea of the two of them being together. Married.

Even though this Sam wasn't technically in his head, she must have guessed what he was thinking because as she showed him out the door she said quietly, "McKay? That other stuff, about the scruffy tough-guy routine?" He nodded and waited for her to continue. "I'll do you a favor and let you inon a secret… all that stuff is just the icing on the cake."

He nodded like he understood, although he was now pretty much more confused than ever. "Yes, well. Congratulations, by the way, I should have… before. Said it."

"Bye, Rodney. Have a safe trip home."

He nodded to both of them and headed to the curb where his taxi was waiting, overhearing General O'Neill saying something that sounded suspiciously like, "The icing's the best part though..." as he opened the door to get in. As he settled in his seat, he looked back towards her house… or their house, or whatever it technically was. They were just going back inside, and he only caught a flash of them exchanging an amused look at his unexpected interruption of their weekend together, but it was enough for him to spend the majority of the cab ride thinking that maybe she really was smarter than him after all.

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv