A/N: Gah! Beware the Fluff! I am buried in Fluff of my own creation, oh woe is me! Run! Save yourselves! Rosebud…
By the way, there's also a lot of UST in this chapter. I really didn't intend for there to be quite so much, and the rest of the fic hasn't been that way, but…I think I got jumped by a gang of UST bunnies while writing this. It's the only explanation.
Also: Bah! I spit on the canon timeline! Phooey! So yeah, it goes a little AU from here (post Inferno).
And Teyla fans, forgive me. I love her too, but her moments of "I am the Zen Master. Come, let us have tea while I light candles and stretch in odd ways" were just begging me to write something like this. It was too powerful to resist. I know nothing about Lamaze except for a few wierd odds and ends here and there, and I just made up Tiyamel, so don't even worry about this being accurate. Just go with it. ;)
In the months after my little moment of emotional clarity, things got…complicated. My brain couldn't stay focused for longer than a few minutes without drifting to thoughts of Rodney. My heart pounded anytime he entered the room. My hands would reach out of their own volition for some sort of casual contact, and I clearly invaded his personal bubble anytime we stood near to each other. It was like my entire body was staging a coup against the rational side of my brain that just wanted to get the hell away and regroup.
I'd never been uncomfortable around men before. I'd always been the type of person that when I saw something or somebody I wanted, I went for it, not holding anything back. I usually got what I wanted, but if I didn't, I just picked myself up and moved on. This tendency had caused the occasional snag in the past, such as when I hounded Jimmy Miller for three months until he finally asked me to Senior Prom, only to find out after the fact that he was gay. But for the most part, this tendency had served me well. Jimmy had even helped me pick out the perfect prom dress.
Now, however, McKay had me off-balance, and I hated it. I found myself second-guessing things I would do or say around him, and I didn't like feeling so nervous and unsure. I knew what I would do if he was just another guy, someone I had just met or barely knew, but this was Rodney, and that made everything different. I may have still been fuzzy on a lot of his personal life, but I knew his moods, and I could usually read his expressions like an open book. That should have made things easier, but it just made it more difficult. I knew how to act as "Cadman: the sometimes annoying friend and mother of current progeny," but I had no clue how to fit into the role of "Laura: the girlfriend and/or wife and mother of any and all future progeny." And I wouldn't be filling either role if I acted on how I felt and Rodney didn't feel the same. The thought of spending my life without Rodney there, adding his moments of arrogant bluster and panic and occasional sweetness, made my chest tighten painfully, so it was clearly not an option I even wanted to consider.
Like I said, things got complicated.
"Cadman!" Rodney burst into my quarters without knocking, but given this was his usual entrance, it didn't faze me. At some point he had programmed my door to open for him automatically. I knew I should be angry about his assumption that he had a right to be in my quarters anytime he wanted, but since he'd done the same thing for me with his own door, I took it to be a very McKay-esque gesture of affection. "Are you ready yet?" he continued, walking straight up to the open bathroom door, where I was glaring at myself in the mirror. "We're going to be late! What are you…Are you doing what I think you're doing?"
Oops, busted. "No!" I objected automatically.
He smiled at me knowingly. "You are, aren't you? You're practicing your Mom Look!"
"No, I wasn't! I was practicing the look I'm going to give you for making me go to this ridiculous class," I countered defiantly, then actually gave him The Look.
Rodney just rolled his eyes. Hmm, that wasn't quite the reaction I was going for... "Keep practicing," he replied and glanced at his watch. "But do it later, because we are now officially late for Tiyamel class."
Ah, Tiyamel, the art of Athosian Lamaze. If breathing hard and thinking happy thoughts were really the cure for excruciating labor pains, there wouldn't be any need for epidurals…which I plan to have. Heck, I'd just ask Carson to put me into a medically induced coma for the whole thing if I thought he'd do it.
As if reading my thoughts, Rodney said, "Look, I know you don't plan to use this, but it was Carson's suggestion. And Teyla is just trying to help out." Teyla had approached Carson not too long ago about a Tiyamel class that she was planning to set up on the mainland for a few Athosian couples, and asked if it would be appropriate to ask us to join. Apparently, Charin had been a Dhashoa, the Athosian version of a midwife, in her younger years, and Teyla had been her apprentice until her duties as a leader took over.
Sighing and knowing I didn't really have anything to complain about because it gave me an excuse to hang out with Rodney, I acquiesced. "Fine, let's go."
I tried to make polite conversation on the way to the Jumper bay, but I ended up bickering lightly with him the whole way. It was effortless and familiar when dealing with Rodney, so it was easy to fall back on when I began feeling nervous. As we entered the transporter for the Jumper bay, I cast Rodney a glare, daring him to say something about how my gargantuan belly took up over half the transporter. Remembering my reaction the last time he had said something of that nature, he wisely kept his mouth shut. Really, he didn't have all that much to complain about. I hadn't even left a mark from the defense hold, and that pulled muscle in his back was almost healed now.
Just then, one of the babies gave my insides a mighty wallop. I winced and grabbed my stomach, and Rodney immediately took notice. "Are you okay?"
"Relax, McKay. I'm not going to pop these babies out while we're in a transporter," I chided. It seemed like the nearer we got to the due date, the jumpier Rodney became. I winced again as I felt another jab. "I think the boys are just practicing their kickboxing."
'The boys.' Sheppard had started calling them that after Carson's last ultrasound determined the twins were most likely a pair of identical twin boys, and the nickname had stuck. Although, how Carson could tell just by looking at that fuzzy screen was beyond me.
"Good," McKay sighed, relieved. "For a second there, I thought you might be faking labor to get out of the class."
"Don't be ridiculous," I replied. "I've already done that once, it wouldn't work a second time." McKay just huffed in response, and I determinedly stifled my giggles, remembering how frantic and hysterical he had been for about twenty minutes, and how worked up he'd been afterwards. It was the most entertainment I'd had in weeks.
The Jumper ride to the mainland was rather calm, with only some mild teasing on my part regarding his piloting skills, or lack thereof. When we reached the village and the small hut that Teyla had designated for the class, everyone was already there waiting. We ducked our heads at the glare Teyla shot us for being late, again, and took our spot on the mat that was already laid out for us. Of course, it was right next to the bossy, overcritical witch-lady. She always found a way to condemn my Tiyamel skills, then somehow relate that to how I would raise my children. As if the two were even related! But I was determined to ignore her comments this time, and sat on the mat without even giving her a second glance.
I settled in the position we'd been taught, in between Rodney's legs with my back pressed to his chest and his hands on my shoulders. I felt my face flush like it did every time, thankful that Rodney couldn't see it with my back turned. I tried hard not to think about how cozy and personal our arrangement felt. All the other couples had obviously been in much more intimate entanglements than just sitting in their partner's lap, so nobody else thought twice about their position. But for Rodney and I, our situation was drastically different, and I was reminded each class that this was the most touching we'd ever done. My heart did a little happy dance, complete with back flips, and I wondered why I fought coming here each week.
"As I was saying," Teyla continued, "It is important that you practice these strategies with your partner outside of class. Tiyamel is about finding your center and your strength, making the act of childbirth more pleasant. With proper practice, you will easily be able to clear your mind and focus when the time comes, but it will be much more difficult to do so if you have not practiced your techniques. Now, why don't we start on the exercise I taught you last week?"
Ah, yes, now I remember why I hate coming here. It's a bunch of new-age mumbo jumbo, and some of the techniques are utterly absurd. Heaving a long sigh, I allowed Rodney to take my hands in his and began breathing as Teyla instructed. Quick breath in, slow breath out. Quick breath in, slow breath out. Repeat until "centered," or your face turns blue from oxygen deprivation, whichever comes first.
"You're not doing it right, dear." Oh, joy, bossy lady has benevolently decided to grace me with her invaluable advice. "It's a slow breath out. You're breathing out much too quickly," she whispered smugly.
Glaring at her, I took in a huge lungful of air and begin to let it out very slowly. I went on for so long that Rodney actually let go of my hands and poked me in the ribs, making me release all my air in a gasp. "Play nice," he whispered in my ear through clenched teeth, and I closed my eyes and pretended that feeling his breath on my cheek didn't affect me at all. And I definitely wasn't tingling inside.
"Easy for you to say," I whispered back. "You're not the one she's telling how to breathe! I've been doing it fine since I was born, I don't think I need her help."
"Shh!" The couple on the other side of us scolded.
"Oh, shush yourself!" I replied, earning a flick to the back of my head from McKay. "Ow!"
"Women," Teyla said, a little louder than necessary, and narrowed her eyes in our direction. "Your breathing exercises should be making you feel tranquil and centered by now. I think this is a good time to practice the meditation technique from last week. Men, remember the relaxing pressure points we discussed earlier: the back of the neck, the ears, and the palms of the hands. These are also sensual points on the body, so it should stimulate pleasurable emotions that will allow the women to focus through the pain of childbirth. For this technique, you need to grasp the women by their hands to begin." Rodney did as instructed, a little firmer than was absolutely necessary. I resisted the urge to dig my fingernails into the back of his hands in response. "Now, remember the motions we practiced. Up, out, and in. A little more slowly, Maylin. That's good."
Rodney lifted my arms above my head, then lowered them out to my sides and brought them back in to just below my shoulders in a kind of bizarre swimming motion. He repeated it a few more times before he reminded me snippily, "Breathe, Cadman."
"I am breathing. Have I passed out yet? No. Hence: I am still breathing."
McKay growled. Actually growled. "Breathe like Teyla showed you. And stop leading!"
"I'm not leading! I'm just trying to keep you from jabbing me in the sides with your elbows like you kept doing last week!" I whispered heatedly through tight lips.
"That wasn't my fault!" he snapped back. "I had to compensate because you kept leading!"
"He's right, you know," came a familiar pompous voice. "Your arms are much too stiff. If you keep doing it like that, your baby will have bad Jujemeh at birth. Here, do it like this." As she demonstrated the move, she fell limp like a fish. Her husband rolled his eyes at her back and performed the motion, her arms hanging from his hands like overcooked spaghetti noodles. "There," she said, brightening. "Wasn't that perfect?"
I just looked at her like she was cracked in the head. "Look, lady, if you want to look like a drunk marionette while giving birth, that's your prerogative. I'll stick to my way, thanks."
The harpy-woman gasped crossly and I felt another slap to my shoulder, accompanied with a curt, "Cadman!"
"OW! Would you stop it, people are going to think I have an abusive boyfriend. Don't blame me if that stocky guy who keeps glaring at us from the other side of the room corners you at the end of class."
"He's glaring at you because you won't shut up!" He whispered in a low voice. "In fact, these people would probably crown me and hail me as their new leader if I could get you to be quiet, no matter how I did it!"
"Shht!" The couple on the opposite side admonished again.
"See? They all want you to be silent!"
"Me? I think that one was directed at you, supreme ruler of Tiyamel class!"
"If you two don't stop fighting, I don't know how you'll raise a child." The stuck-up hag chose that moment to intervene. "I pity any young one brought up in a house of such malequah!"
It was inevitably at this point that McKay chose to snap, "Listen, she is going to make a great mother, and I suggest you worry a little less about other people's business and a little more about your own. Your husband has been eyeballing Teyla behind your back in every class!"
The shocked look on her face was priceless, and I couldn't stop my grin from forming at Rodney's words. But a few minutes later, standing in front of a very displeased Teyla Emmagen, I wasn't smiling anymore. "Perhaps," she began diplomatically, "it is best if we continue your training in…private sessions. I am afraid you are preventing the other couples from attaining their proper focus."
We both agreed apologetically, and as soon as we got back to the Jumper, Rodney started in. "I can't believe you got us kicked out of Tiyamel class!"
"Hey! I wasn't the one who told off the snobby, bossy lady!"
"Well, she's done nothing but insult you every week! I was getting sick of it!"
"Okay, that's…actually kinda sweet," I muttered awkwardly.
"Really?" he asked.
I shrugged. "Yeah," I smiled shyly, and he returned it. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, he asked, "You don't really think we fight too much, do you?"
I snorted. "Oh, please, don't let what that woman said get to you. Fighting is a sign of affection. At least in your case."
He looked at me skeptically. "How do you figure?"
"Trust me, if you're willing to put in your valuable time to argue with somebody instead of just write them off as a lost cause, I know that you think they're worth it. I'd be more worried if we didn't fight."
Rodney pondered my answer a moment, then his face spread into a slow smile, but he didn't say anything. I decided to take advantage of his good mood and go for broke. Having made my decision, I suddenly felt very queasy, but I kept telling myself it was just Rodney's bad piloting that was giving me motion sickness, and plowed on.
"Um, if you're not doing anything when we get back…I mean, I know you've probably got work to do or something, but you've got to eat, right? So, um, if you want—"
"Spit it out, Cadman," he teased, trying to hide his smile.
"Do you want to have dinner with me?" Oh god, don't freak out, it's not a date, please don't freak out Rodney, it's not a date…unless you want it to be, then it's a date…Oh god, what am I going to wear?
There was a momentary pause and I panicked that he was going to get weird on me, but then he replied casually, "Sure, that sounds fine. I've got to check on some projects in my lab first, maybe take a shower because I smell like a yak from sitting in that Athosian hut, but then I can meet you for dinner. How about 7:00 at your place?"
Trying to cover my shock and delight at his answer, I aimed for nonchalant and said, "Fine, but if you're late because you got wrapped up in something at your lab, I promise to put lemon in your food."
"Hey, I'm not the schedule-challenged one," he reminded. "In that case, I'll grab something from the mess on my way over." Continuing to smile, he added, "And if you're lucky, I'll even let you argue with me when I get there."
By 6:55, I was a nervous wreck. And it was all Rodney's fault.
As soon as I had gotten back to my quarters, I had torn my closet apart looking for something to wear. I only had a handful of nice maternity outfits that weren't BDUs, and I had put each one on before discarding them and deciding this was Not A Date, and then put my BDUs back on.
After that I decided this really was A Date, and had run over to Kate Heightmeyer's place to borrow her curling iron. After I curled my hair, I figured it would be weird if my hair was all fancy when Rodney came over and he thought it was Not A Date, so I brushed it all out. It looked too froo-frooey anyway.
Then I decided even if it was Not A Date, it wouldn't hurt to look nice, and changed out of my BDUs into a pale blue shirt (which I refused to admit had ruffles, even if McKay had said otherwise when I ordered it) and black slacks. Then I curled my hair again. And put on make-up. Then my outfit looked too casual for my face, so I changed into a strapless black top and dangly earrings.
Then I decided I looked too dressed up for it to be Not A Date, and McKay might get the wrong idea, so I took it all off again. But I kept my hair curled.
By this point, my quarters were a mess, and I figured even if this was Not A Date, it wouldn't hurt to take a little pride in my place. I had cleaned up, but then realized there was no place to eat except on the floor, or sitting on my bed. Since that would just be awkward, I headed over to Miko's to borrow her Japanese table and a couple of pillows. We'd still be eating on the floor, but now we'd be eating on the floor with style.
Finally resolving myself to the idea that I really didn't know if this was A Date or Not A Date, I settled for somewhere in between. I put on some denim capris and a casual khaki wrap-around top with a navy blue tie-strap and some small diamond earrings. By then it was 6:55 and I was in the bathroom deciding which make-up to re-apply when I heard Rodney call my name from somewhere inside my quarters. Damn that man for jury-rigging my door! "I'll be out in a minute!" I called, hastily applying lip gloss and mascara while silently cursing Rodney's over-enthusiasm for being prompt. I tried to decide which shade of eye shadow to wear while simultaneously vowing to contact Zelenka and make it his number one priority to Rodney-proof my door. I picked out blue eye shadow, then decided I hated that color and wondered why I had ever bought it, choosing a golden brown instead. At 6:58 I squinted at my reflection in the mirror, decided my curled hair still looked too froo-frooey, and tried to smooth it out with my fingers. Finally, I figured, "What the hell," and opened the door to my bathroom. "You're early," I said to Rodney's back.
"Yes, well at least you know how to tell…time." He had turned to face me, and his jaw dropped nearly to the floor. At his reaction, I bit my lip to keep the pleased smile off my face. While he stared, I took the opportunity to take in his outfit. If nothing else, my suspicions about his fashion sense were confirmed. He was wearing brown slacks and an orange and green striped button down shirt. The pattern on the shirt was god-awful, and probably would have hurt my eyes if he didn't look so good in it. His sleeves were rolled up to just below his elbows, and the top few buttons were left open to reveal the white t-shirt he had on underneath. Ugly shirt not withstanding, he looked very cute.
Unable to resist a bit of teasing, I said, "Close your mouth, McKay, you're catching flies."
His jaw snapped shut with an audible click, and he immediately began making flustered excuses for his reaction. "Well, it's just…It's not…I've never seen you…pretty."
It was very much the type of compliment I would expect from Rodney, but I still had to quirk my eyebrow at him. Realizing how that must have sounded, he began hastily backpedaling. "I mean, you're always pretty, of course, I just never notice…Well, I do notice, but not—"
"Don't give yourself an aneurism before we've had a chance to eat," I rolled my eyes, still smiling. "And you look nice, too."
Deciding to save him from himself, I asked, "What did you get for dinner? I'm starving."
Suddenly remembering that he had, in fact, come here for reasons other than to stare at me, he turned to the short little table where he had placed our food. "Well, the mess didn't have much selection, so I just got us some of that purple Athosian pasta stuff, but for dessert—" Rodney held up a finger dramatically, then moved to the edge of the bed where he had draped his jacket and lifted it up to reveal a small carton and a jar of something green. Holding them up proudly, he continued, "I managed to sneak into the refrigeration section when Olaf's back was turned, and I got these."
Catching sight of the labels, I couldn't help but laugh. "Rodney! You stole pickles and ice cream for dessert?"
"Well, pickles and ice cream for you, just the ice cream for me. I hope you like Rocky Road."
It wasn't my favorite, but I took the carton and jar from him happily, saying with a bright smile, "It's perfect!"
He returned my smile with an anxious, but pleased, nod. "Right, good. Well, that ice cream is going to melt soon, so shall we get started?" I nodded back, and soon we were digging into the Athosian pasta and having pleasant conversation, even if McKay did complain every five minutes about what sitting on the floor was doing to his back. Before long, we'd made it to dessert and bickering.
"Oh, come on!" Rodney shouted, waving his spoonful of ice cream around dangerously. "You know, sooner or later you're going to have to start thinking of actual baby names, not just come up with names you know will annoy me. You need to take this seriously, Cadman."
"I am serious!" I objected. "What's wrong with the names John and Carson?"
Rodney gave me his patented "You are stupider than I ever imagined" look and said, "Okay, completely ignoring the fact that is was your rule that we can't name them after exes, they're twin boys. We're having twin boys, and you want to name them John and Carson. Do you have any idea how much teasing they'll get in school?"
"What? Those are perfectly normal names, Rodney!"
"Oh, sure, they're fine by themselves. But these are twins we're talking about." The way he kept emphasizing it made me want to point out that yes, I was well aware we were having two babies, not one, because I got a double dose of little jabbing feet and hands on a daily basis. "They'll go everywhere together, and their names will always be said together. As soon as just one kid makes the connection, bam!" he snapped his fingers for emphasis, "They'll be known as Johnny Carson for the rest of their lives. That's just cruel."
Sighing, because okay, I hadn't really thought of that, but I wasn't giving in that easy, I continued, "Well what do you want to name them? Thing 1 and Thing 2?"
"I don't know, something normal!" he said, the final "duh" heavily implied.
Thinking hard, I said, "Matt and Pat?" Getting the desired appalled groan in answer, I pressed on. "Don and Juan?" I kept going, on a roll now. "Fabio and Merle?"
"Oh, god no!" he shouted, looking disgusted. "Seriously, Cadman, can't you come up with something better than that?"
Looking down at my bowl of pickles and ice cream, I muttered, "You know, it wouldn't kill you to start calling me Laura."
"Huh?" Rodney asked, puzzled by the change in topic. "What's wrong with 'Cadman?'"
"Nothing," I continued, feeling a touch self-conscious now. "It's just…I'm going to be the mother of your children, it would be nice to be on a first name basis," I replied, a touch of sarcasm in my voice.
He squinted at me. "But you call me 'McKay.'"
"Yeah, but…" He had a point, and I was stuck for a response. "Not all the time," I finished feebly.
Rolling his eyes, he replied, "Fine, Laura it is then."
I shrugged and took a moment to sulk, because that had not gone at all how I planned, and Rodney said after a moment, "Not that I'm not happy to be having boys, but it would have been nice to have a little girl."
Puzzled by the seeming non-sequitur, I felt my lips twitch in a smile and asked, "You really wanted a girl?"
Suddenly very interested in his ice cream, Rodney didn't look up when he answered. "Yeah…She'd probably look like you, but she'd have my brains, and I could spoil her rotten, get her ponies and things. And terrorize her boyfriends, I'd be really good at that," he smiled ruefully, then frowned. "But Sheppard wouldn't be allowed anywhere near her after she turned 18."
"Rodney," I smiled warmly, "he'd be like, 55 by then!"
"Have you met John Sheppard? You really think that would stop him?"
"I see your point," I conceded, still grinning.
"I even had the perfect name picked out," he continued enthusiastically.
"So help me Rodney, if you even thought about naming one of our children Norena, I will drop kick you through the next incoming wormhole."
"C'mon, Cadm—Laura, give me a little more credit than that!"
"Okay then," I replied skeptically, "What was it?"
Rodney once again became very interested in his dessert. "Nevermind, it doesn't matter now."
"Oh, I don't think so," I teased. "You're not getting off that easily. Where's that baby names book you're always carrying around? I bet you've got it marked in there."
Rodney's eyes went wide. "I…I didn't bring it with me," he lied. He was a terrible liar.
I locked him in my most penetrating stare. "Really?" I asked, dubious.
Rodney's eyes never wavered from mine, much like a mouse caught in the sights of a hungry viper. After a long time, almost imperceptibly, his eyes flicked to the jacket still sitting on my bed. Smirking triumphantly, I cocked an eyebrow, and then we were both up like a flash, racing towards the jacket. Despite the fact that I was rather large around the middle, I had years of military training on my side, and I naturally made it there first. I quickly whipped the book out from one of the pockets, then narrowly evaded Rodney by ducking under his arm.
"Let's see," I said, flipping through the pages. "Is it…Daisy?" Rodney made a frantic grab for the book, but I easily sidestepped his reach. "No? How about…Myrtle?" This time I narrowly missed the grasp and had to duck under his arm again. "Oh! Here's a good one: Delores!"
Finally realizing he'd never catch me, Rodney gave up trying and asked snippily, "Are you done yet?"
"You're no fun," I pouted, setting the book on my nightstand.
"You're just now figuring this out?" He snarked, putting his hand on his back and wincing. "Ow. I think you made me pull something. Again."
"Aw, poor baby," I said, completely unsympathetic.
"I feel sorry for our children if this is how you'll treat them anytime they get hurt," he groaned, sitting down on the edge of the bed like a crotchety old man.
"You should know better, Rodney. All moms ever have to do is kiss it and make it better," I quipped before realizing quite what that implied. And okay, awkward now.
Luckily, Rodney was oblivious as always. "Sadly, that method's probably on par with Beckett's voodoo magic." He groaned again, leaning back against the headboard and closing his eyes. "I'll be fine in a minute, just let me rest," he mumbled. Opening one eye to glare at me crankily, he added, "You know, if you want to make it up to me, we could put this time to good use and practice some of those Tiyamel techniques."
It was my turn to groan. "Not again, Rodney! I hate those things, and quite frankly I don't see why you're so persistent about them. You don't really strike me as the incense and bamboo garden type."
"I'm not," he protested. "Don't you want to be prepared, just in case something…I just can't stand the thought that you might be in pain somewhere, and not able to do anything about it," he finished reluctantly. And really, how could I say no to that without coming off as a complete jerk?
"Okay, fine," I sighed, giving in. "But I'm not doing the backwards figure-eight one. Or the one where I have to flap my arms like a chicken."
Rodney chuckled. "Fair enough," he replied. Willing myself not to blush, I sat down in my usual position. If I thought it felt intimate while in that smelly Athosian hut with a bunch of other couples there, it was nothing compared to how it felt to be sitting there, in my room, on my bed, with Rodney's arms wrapped comfortably around me. I was so close I could smell his aftershave, and I just knew he could sense the heat radiating from my skin as I felt my entire body turn scarlet. "Look, I'll make you a deal," he said as we shifted both our positions to get more comfortable. "Let's not do any of the techniques this time. You just concentrate on your breathing, and try to relax. Think you can handle that?"
Hating that Rodney knew I never backed down from a challenge, and hating that he even knew how to push that particular button of mine, I nodded. "Piece of cake," I said mockingly.
"Good. Now close your eyes and be quiet for once."
"Look who's talking," I countered, and Rodney pinched the back of my hand. "Ouch!" I yelped, but I got the message and promptly shut up. I tried to concentrate on the stupid breathing exercises, for once taking them seriously, but it was a little distracting when Rodney was gently massaging the spot he'd pinched on my hand. I was finally beginning to feel relaxed, or maybe just drowsy, when McKay's fingers began slowly brushing along the back of my wrist and up my arm. I felt my skin break out in goosebumps where he touched me. I asked tentatively, "McKay, what are you doing?"
"Shut up, you're supposed to be focusing," he answered curtly. Grunting at his response, I did as ordered and resumed trying to find my "center" or "chi" or whatever Teyla had called it. By the time Rodney's hands rested lightly on my shoulders, however, I'd given it up as a lost cause. Deciding he hadn't told me exactly what I should be focusing on, I began concentrating on the feeling of Rodney softly massaging the back of my neck with his thumbs.
Okay, wow. You'd never guess it by the way he was always frenetically waving them around, but the man had magic hands. I felt my body slowly relax into his touch, and I sagged a bit further until I rested firmly against his chest, biting back the contented sigh just before it reached my lips. I was certain he had no idea what he was doing to me, and I wasn't about to let him find out. If he had any clue what those hands were capable of, he would be gloating to the entire population about his fourth greatest super power, right behind his brain, his ability to berate anything mildly sentient into a puddle of sobbing goo (military grunts didn't count, he said, because they weren't even mildly sentient), and his iron stomach, respectively. And really, he had enough problems without having to worry about never getting any work done because there was a mile-long line of women outside his lab waiting for backrubs.
I held my breath to stifle a moan of pleasure as his hands carded gently into my hair. My head rolled forward completely against my will, but I was enjoying myself too much to mentally chastise it properly. It had been way too long since anyone had touched me like this, even Carson, and I was reveling in every second of contact.
I felt rather than heard Rodney's soft chuckle. His breath fluttered against my cheek as he whispered in a low, husky voice, "Don't forget to breathe, Cadman."
My eyes snapped open in sudden realization. He knew. He knew exactly what he was doing to me, and even worse, he was using that knowledge to seduce me! Now that I knew, I could actually feel the smugness radiating off of his fingers as he slowly caressed my neck and shoulders.
Somewhere in the cluttered files of my brain, a folder labeled "Rodney McKay: Bad With Women" was quietly chucked out the window.
I grinned wickedly. Well, two can play that game. "It's Laura," I corrected. "And there's no talking, remember?" I felt him chuckle again, low in his chest, and it was enough to make me quietly declare war on his ego. I placed my palms on his knees, one on each side of me. Digging my short fingernails ever so lightly into the fabric of his pants, I began slowly drawing them up the length of each thigh. His hands halted their motion on my neck, and my triumph at having beaten him at his own game appeased the part of me that missed the contact.
His breathing hitched when I reached mid-thigh, and his hands reached around to stop my progress. Clearing his throat, he said, "That's enough of that." Clasping my hands firmly in his to check any tendency they may have felt to wander, he said, "You were supposed to be meditating."
"I was," I answered resolutely, because I would never in a million years admit that a few light touches had distracted me from my military ingrained focus.
"Fine," Rodney pouted. "Let's just agree to keep our hands to ourselves, and try this again."
"Fine," I agreed, then tried to extricate my hands from McKay's grip, which he only tightened. "Rodney? What happened to keeping our hands to ourselves?" I asked mischievously.
"I don't trust you," he replied frankly. "Now shut up and breathe." Only Rodney could say that and make it sound endearing.
I smiled to myself, gave his hands one last squeeze before relaxing, and then closed my eyes. Quick breath in, slow breath out. Quick breath in, slow breath out. I'm not sure how long it went on like this, but at some point my rhythm was broken when I was overtaken by a wide yawn. Realizing how tired I felt, I turned to Rodney, expecting him to think my exhaustion was just an excuse to get out of more practice. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw just over my shoulder. Rodney was dead to the world, having fallen so deeply asleep as to be near-comatose. His face was completely relaxed, his jaw hanging slack, and the tiniest bit of drool was beginning to puddle near the corner of his mouth. It was quite possibly the sweetest thing I'd ever seen.
I knew I couldn't get up without waking Rodney, and looking at that adorable sleeping face, I didn't really want to. I was drowsy myself, and pretty comfortable, so I decided to just snuggle up with my giant Rodney-shaped teddy bear and go to sleep. He was much better than Marty, anyway.
The next morning I drifted awake at a leisurely pace. My neck was a little stiff, but that could probably be explained by my pillow. It was soft, and somewhat comfortable, but it was lumpy in all the wrong places. I attempted to smush a few of the lumps out, but it only earned me a low grunt from the pillow. Wait, huh?
Oh, right. I slept on top of McKay. Silly me.
Opening my eyes slightly, I took stock of the situation. I still had my back pressed up to Rodney's front, but I had sort of slid down during the night so my head now rested in the middle of his chest, and I could hear his slow, steady heartbeat. He had one arm slung over my middle, right where my ribcage met my giant stomach. The other hand rested securely on my hip. I took a moment to squash down the butterflies I felt at waking up in Rodney's arms, then tried to think about how to get out of this situation without McKay having a "morning after" freak out. I was right in the middle of convincing myself that no, it would not be easier to just curl up, go back to sleep, and deal with it later, when I felt Rodney shift beneath me and heard a slight sigh as his arms tightened. I felt him nuzzle the top of my head sleepily, and cursed the butterflies for not staying where I put them. I knew the moment he became fully aware when his body stiffened a bit and his heartbeat changed, picking up the pace. I froze, pretending to still be asleep, and after a very long moment, he said groggily, "You can stop faking it, Cadman. I know you're awake."
Abandoning all pretense, I snapped my head up to look at him. "What? How did you—"
"You snore," he said, trying to hide his smile.
"Yeah, well, you drool," I replied childishly.
"I do not," he said, wiping self consciously at his chin. "Now get off me, I think you ruptured my spleen last night with your elbow, and you laying on top of my bladder isn't making me any more comfortable."
I smiled, pleased that McKay wasn't going to get weird on me, and after a brief argument over who got first dibs on the bathroom (me, obviously) I started brewing a pot of coffee and set out a few vegetable omelet MREs for breakfast. As I poured Rodney a cup of coffee and added five whopping spoonfuls of sugar, just like he liked it, I almost laughed at myself. It felt so natural to be doing this, spending my morning with Rodney as he puttered around my tiny kitchen area talking about nothing in particular. I could almost lose myself in the novel feeling of domestic bliss that washed over me…almost. It felt too much like playing house, and I couldn't afford to give in to the underlying sense of rightness I was feeling on the off chance that this was just a freak occurrence, one perfect morning of contentment, that I would never have again. It was too dangerous to get used to the idea of waking up to Rodney every morning, only to have that possibility snatched away because sometimes the universe threw you a sucker punch. I was still getting used to the fact that I couldn't just pick myself up and dust myself off as far as Rodney was concerned, and it felt strange having to protect my heart like that.
Rodney was simultaneously looking for the salt and providing a lengthy diatribe of all the systems he and Radek were planning to check later, in order to find the source of the power surges we'd been having, when there was a knock at my door. Normally the drunken Tinkerbell chime would have sounded, but it had stopped working right around the time McKay reprogrammed my door. Seeing as how Rodney was still engrossed in his search for the salt and probably hadn't even realized there was someone at the door, I walked over and opened it with a whoosh, revealing Colonel Sheppard.
"Hey, Cadman," he greeted, "I know it's early, but have you seen McKay around? I can't find him anywhere, and Zelenka needs him to—"
"Ugh, Laura, what did you do to me last night? My back is killing me," Rodney groaned from around the corner, hidden in the small alcove of a kitchen.
Sheppard's eyebrows shot up so fast I almost thought they'd reach escape velocity and rocket off his forehead. "No, Colonel, it's not what you think! We were just—"
Rodney, however, oblivious as always, continued, "I think you sleeping on top of me last night may have ruptured a disk. Do we have any chiropractors on Atlantis?" Sheppard shot me a glance that said, "Save it," and Rodney chose that moment to round the corner. He took one look at Sheppard and spit his mouthful of coffee all over my floor. "Colonel! What are you—It's not like we—I mean we were just—"
Sheppard held up his hands as if fending of Rodney's rambling onslaught of words. "Whoa, McKay, I really don't think I want to know. I just came here because Zelenka's looking for you."
"Can't it wait?" he protested, holding up his fork for emphasis. "I'm having breakfast!"
Sheppard cast a sideways look my direction. "Well, I'm not an expert on Czech curses, but I got the impression it's pretty important. Maybe you should come back and have 'breakfast' later." I could actually hear the air quotes as Sheppard spoke, despite the fact that his arms remained firmly crossed over his chest.
Rodney apparently heard them too, because the next thing he said was, "You are such a child. Fine, radio Zelenka and tell him I'm on my way, and try not to blow anything up until I get there." He shoveled the last few bites of food in his mouth, drowning them with half a cup of coffee before following Sheppard out the door.
Winking shrewdly at me as he left, Sheppard tapped his radio to contact Zelenka. "Check. No explosions without you present. Got it," he said. As the doors shut behind them, I knew Rodney was rolling his eyes in response.
I smiled after them for a few seconds before turning back to my quarters. I tried not to think about how quiet and big it seemed now, with McKay gone. I was just beginning to clean up the mess Hurricane Rodney had left in my kitchen when I heard the door to my quarters whoosh open. There was only one person it could be. Smiling, I called, "Did you forget something Rodney?"
"Yes," he replied, barreling around the corner and walking up to me. "This." Without even breaking stride he took my face in his hands and brought his lips down on mine, not crushing or bruising but with enough passion to knock the wind out of me. His mouth was warm and soft, and he tasted like really, really sweet coffee. When he started to pull away it kick-started my brain, and I immediately wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him back to me and eliciting a surprised "Ompf!" as our lips met once more. Several long, bliss inducing moments later, I had decided oxygen was overrated. However, I didn't fancy explaining to Zelenka how I managed to make the chief of science pass out from oxygen deprivation as a result of excessive lip action, and okay, yeah, maybe a little tongue too, and…oh, yep, definitely tongue…what was I saying?
Oh, right. Oxygen good, unconscious Rodney bad. Reluctantly, I pulled back to see his face looking adorably rumpled, dazed, and thoroughly kissed. Smirking proudly at my achievement, I said, "You'd better go. Zelenka's expecting you."
Rodney just gazed back, puzzled. "Who?" Coming back to himself, he said, "Oh, right, Zelenka." He paused for a moment before his pink, swollen lips curled into a smile and he leaned in again. "He can wait." He kissed me again, still searing but tender, and I felt the world black out for just a second. All too soon Zelenka's voice over the intercom in my room brought me back to reality.
"Rodney, if you do not stop making out with Cadman and report to the lab right now, I will play this security footage for all to see at next movie night!"
Rodney turned and spoke to the tiny security camera installed in the corner of the room. "Radek, can't you just give me one minute of peace! If I'd known I'd have to come baby sit you every five minutes, I'd never have assigned you to my team!"
"It is a blessing that the security cameras were not installed with sound capabilities. I can see your lips moving, but I hear no words. I think I shall deal with you this way from now on," Zelenka's voice piped into the room, sounding thoroughly pleased with himself.
Sheppard's voice came over the intercom next. "McKay, get your ass down here now! I'm not sure how much longer I can keep Zelenka from blowing this place up without you."
Laughing, I rested my head on Rodney's shoulder, then started herding him towards the door. "You'd better go. They're hopeless without you."
"Don't I know it," he grumbled.
"I'll see you for dinner?" I asked.
Pressing a quick, tender kiss to my lips, he said, "Not if I get done by lunch." With a smile, he dashed through the doors and headed off to the labs, on his way to avert the most recent crisis.
The doors shut once more, but somehow my quarters didn't feel as empty this time. Unable to keep the wild grin from my face, I allowed myself to say what I had been afraid to even think before. "I could definitely get used to this."
A/N: Aw, if you can watch a man drool onto your pillow and find it adorable, you know it's love. :) Oi, this is the longest chapter I have ever written in any of my fics. I hope it didn't drag too long, but I've been wanting to put the characters in this position for months, and once I managed it I just didn't want it to end. ;) And it came out much fluffier than I intended, but really, you can't have Rodney do nothing but snark and bicker all the time without just wanting to give the guy a hug. This is my first time writing major UST (okay, so technically it's RST, whatever), at least between these characters, and I'm afraid it may have come out sounding a little clichéd, so please let me know if it came out forced or contrived in any way, I'm always trying to improve my writing. And get excited about the next chapter, it's the second to last one, and the entire reason I started writing this story in the first place :D