Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate Atlantis.


Rodney looked out over the ocean at the beautiful Atlantean sunset from one of Atlantis's many balconies happy to finally getting the chance to relax. The last couple days had been hell and he needed to unwind. He took a deep breath, for once happy to be breathing the fresh Atlantean air. Rodney had never been one to enjoy the outdoors, but after his last off world mission, he had the feeling that might change. Everything started out just fine, normal, in fact. Although, now that he thinks of it, everything might have been a little too normal.

The off world mission started out as all of his previous missions had, with coffee, a medical exam, and a briefing. As he and his team headed towards the puddlejumper, there was meaningful and somewhat enlightened conversation between Ronon Dex and Teyla Emmegan and sarcastic and friendly banter between him and Colonel John Sheppard. Then again, in hindsight, Ronon's and Teyla's conversation was a bit too meaningful and enlightened and his and John's was a little too sarcastic and playful.

The ride through the stargate and on to MX-935 was also too easy. There were no bumps, no swells, just a clean straight path to the planet they were going to explore. For once, no one was shooting at them. There was no floating space debris, no signs of anyone else in the Pegasus galaxy, but them. That should have been one of the many clues telling him that this mission they were about to embark on, would not be an ordinary mission.

The landing on MX-935 was a smooth one. It was neither rocky, nor bumpy. It was almost like a plane landing on the runway, except better, which is no small feat considering the terrain on which they were landing was neither flat like concrete nor smooth like blacktop.

Rodney was always one to be aware of danger. He believed that in the Pegasus galaxy, danger lurked around every corner, real or imagined. Some people would call him a hypochondriac and a worrywart; others believe that his negative and pessimistic attitude will bring danger to them. To Rodney, however, his belief that danger is all around them, is the most logical and most truthful thing to come out of Atlantis. After all, he is a genius and geniuses are smart. Although, he is smarter than most geniuses, but that is neither here nor there. The point is that he should have known that there was something wrong. He should have been aware of the danger that they were about to encounter, but he wasn't.

It always happened that way. Whether it was Aurora or not being able to fix a broken satellite, he was never able to sense danger when it counted most and because of that, lives were lost. Thinking of those times made Rodney cringe. He cringed thinking about the sorrow and anger and guilt he felt over the loss of his crew. To think that this last mission could have been one of those times made Rodney's stomach churn. He set his Mr. Spock coffee mug down on the balcony and stepped away from it.

He should have known that they would be accosted by angry rebels and shot at. He should have known that they would be taken hostage and given little food or water. He should have known that they would be out of contact with Atlantis for three days and that a rescue and recovery team would be sent to find and free captured or retrieve the bodies. What good is having three PhDs and not being able to tell when you're about to be screwed by yet another primitive alien species?

After much difficulty, the rescue and recovery team were not only able to locate Rodney, Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla, but they were able to free them as well. Rodney promised himself then and there that we would never mock the military officer stationed at Atlantis as long as he lived. That promise was soon forgotten after Major Lorne tripped over a rock and sprained his ankle. Rodney ended up having to help him to the second puddlejumper.

Almost immediately after reaching Atlantis, the five of them were taken to the infirmary; John, Ronon, Teyla, Rodney, and Major Lorne, with his sprained ankle. After being examined by Carson, the butcher, it was determined that there was nothing wrong with Rodney…physically, that is. The good Dr. Beckett seems to think that Rodney may have a few screws loose, but that was nothing that Beckett could fix. Since, there was nothing physically wrong with him, Carson was all too happy to release him, but not without giving Rodney a few instructions first.

He had been given the next three days off to recuperate and was ordered to stay away from his laboratory if he wanted to avoid the needle. Rodney shook his head, he hated doctors. They weren't even scientists. They were butchers who enjoyed cutting you open and sticking sharp metal objects into you body. Rodney shuddered. He was definitely not a fan of sharp metal objects. Still, he was happy be out of the infirmary and even happier to be away from Sheppard's rendition of "One Million Bottles of Athosian Wine on the Wall," which he sung almost the entire time they were held hostage. That man knew how to work Rodney's last nerve, and what makes things worse, is that Sheppard did it for fun.

Still deep in thought, Rodney didn't here the whoosh! of the door opening onto the balcony or the soft footsteps that followed.

"You're back?" Laura Cadman said, breaking Rodney out of his trance-like state.

"Yep," Rodney drawled. "And in reasonably good condition too. Although, I am thinking of having and IQ test done. After being cooped up with Sheppard for three days, who knows how many IQ points I've lost?"

Laura smiled. Same old McKay, she thought. She walked over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder, feeling his body stiffen at her touch. She pulled Rodney into a hug and buried her face in his neck.

"Why are you hugging me?" Rodney asked Cadman, surprised at the sudden physical contact. Other than sharing a body for a brief period of time, their relationship had never been physical. Then again, sharing a body is probably the most physical and intimate experience that two people can share, which made Rodney wonder why a simple hug from Cadman was unnerving him so much. The fact that this was the first time she had ever hugged him dawned on him. The fact that he was enjoying it surprised him even more. Her touch was sending tingles up and down his spine and making the butterflies come alive in his stomach, however to him, it wasn't just butterflies, it was cats chasing butterflies. He felt like a schoolboy sharing a dance with his first crush.

Laura immediately released him and stepped back. She was afraid that she had crossed another line, like she did when she had hijacked Rodney's body and made a pass at Carson. She knew that Rodney resented her for that and she was afraid that he would resent her for this as well. Embarrassed by her actions, she looked at her feet in an effort to avoid looking at his eyes. "I'm sorry. I just…"

"Hey! I didn't say that I didn't like it. I just wanted to know why," Rodney said. He grabbed Cadman's waist to bring her closer to him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly, marveling at how well their bodies fit together. He wondered if they fit together mentally, as well as they did physically.

"I'm glad you're okay," Cadman said softly, resting her head on his shoulder. She liked being in his arms. It made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Cliché as it might sound, being in Rodney's arms made her feel safe, which is ironic considering that she is most often the one assigned to protect him. There was no doubt in her mind however, that he would lay down his life in order to protect her and the crew. She knew that he would, just like she knew that she would feel safe in his arms.

"Hey, I've escaped worse," McKay said, his face buried in her hair taking in its scent. She smelled so good. Rodney wondered if it they soap that she used or if it was just her. She smelled of jasmine, honey, and vanilla. He knew that because when he woke up in her quarters during the time that she was trapped inside his head, that is what her pillow smelled like.

Laura pulled back a little so she could look him in the eyes. "I know. I'm just afraid that one day you won't be so lucky."

McKay raised an eyebrow, "You were worried?" The sincerity in Laura's eyes surprised him. He didn't think that she cared that much about him.

"I wasn't worried. I was concerned. There's a difference." Laura was trying to downplay the whole situation, but she knew Rodney wasn't buying it. He maybe somewhat socially inept, but he wasn't an idiot, even though, he did act like it sometimes.

"Right?" McKay smirked. "You like me."

"I do not like you. I tolerate you." They were approaching uncharted territory which she wasn't entirely comfortable with. They had never had a conversation like this and she wasn't sure she was ready for it. This conversation will most likely lead to others, which could make or break what little relationship they had. That made her nervous. She wished the conversation would end and they could have a conversation like they have in the past, one full of snark and bickering.

"No, you like me. You actually like me?" McKay said grinning like an idiot.

"Well, if something happens to you, who would I torture?" Laura said trying to justify the fact that every time he goes on a mission, he worries her. She wondered why she was trying to justify her feelings. Who was it for? Was she trying to justify her feelings for Rodney, so that their platonic, barely civil relationship would stay that way or was she justifying her feelings for her, so that she didn't have to deal with the passionate feelings that he evoked from her? She wanted to believe that former, but she knew it was the latter. Still she persisted in keeping up the illusion that their relationship was nothing more than a platonic one. "Sheppard is fun for a while, but then he gets boring. Carson whines. The rest of your team has absolutely no personality and Radek is just sad."

"All true," Rodney nodded.

"You're the only one who gives as good as you get."

"That is because I am a genius."

"Everything you do is because you're a genius," Cadman teased. "I bet the reason you pee standing up is because you're a genius."

"No, the reason I pee standing up is because I am a man with a penis. The reason that I am so much fun for you to torture is because I am a genius."

Cadman snorted.

"You like me because I am a genius," Rodney teased.

"For the last time, I do not like you because you or a genius or for any other reason!" Laura knew that was a lie and she knew that Rodney did too, but she didn't care.

Rodney was about to retort, but John came onto the balcony. "Hey, you two! Get a room!" he said.

Rodney looked at John, a wicked grin spreading across his face. "I could have told you and Elizabeth the same thing about an hour ago when I passed by the training room."

I heard some grunts, a few screams, and a lot of moaning. Elizabeth came out with a gigantic hickey on her neck and you came out with your fly undone.Have I jogged your memory?" Rodney looked at Sheppard, "Oh, by the way, you're fly is still undone."

Sheppard growled loudly. Zipping is fly up, he pointed his finger at Rodney angrily, "I will get you!"

Laura and Rodney watched him leave the balcony before bursting into a fit of giggles. She loved the way that Rodney was able to torture people like that. No one was as good at that as he was. Whether it was snarky little comments shared between him and Sheppard or more sarcastic comments pointed towards his scientists, Laura knew that he didn't mean half of those things he said. Even if he did, she new that he cared about each and every one of them.

"Okay, maybe I like you a little," Laura said laughing. Well, a little more than a little, she thought. She was proud of herself for admitting her feeling and pleased because it seemed that Rodney felt the same way.

Rodney looked at her, his eyes twinkling with affection. "Well, that's a start."


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