Written for my friend flubber (whom I can't seem to contact via...anything, lately...stupid ff dot net) to quench her Winter/McKay thirst. Hope you like it, my dear.

Lydia Winter is from the stories Retribution! And Retribution! Revisited. I've written this so that it's not necessary to go read those first, since this takes place outside of the Retribution! timeline and stands alone as an alternate universe event. Just some McKayOC fluff for those that wanted to see it.


Rodney McKay wondered momentarily why everything was pitch black around him. He was pretty sure that with his return to consciousness, the lights in his room should have come up automatically because of the ATA gene.

Oh right...he hadn't opened his eyes yet. That might have had something to do with it.

But his eyelids were so heavy...maybe he could sleep just a little while longer. It really seemed like such a difficult task to crack open his eyes...surely he could sleep just a few more minutes. And his pillow was just right. Not too hard, not too soft...

"C'mon, McKay. I'm not going to sit here all day waiting for you to wake up."

Wait...why was there a woman in his quarters? Did something happen last night? He couldn't remember.

Man, that would suck if he'd finally actually managed to get lucky on Atlantis and he couldn't remember it 'cause he'd gotten drunk or something stupid like that.

It would explain his massive headache though.

"Well, maybe I will. I don't really have a choice in the matter though, do I?"

He shifted half a millimeter to the left and felt something sharp poke him in the back.

Alright, that definitely doesn't feel like my mattress.

"And I'm talking to myself. Great. A sure sign of insanity."

Where did he know that voice from?

"Not that you're helping in that department. You're a terrible conversationalist when you're unconscious, you know."

But I'm not unconscious...uh...am I? I mean, my eyes are shut but I'm still coherent...

"Not that you're a fantastic one when you're awake or anything, but even your condescension is better than silence."

Oh, now he knew who it was. Winter. Right.

Wait a minute. Hard, rocky surface beneath him, sorta firm pillow under his head and-

Oh God, his head was in her lap!

Why the hell was his head in her lap?

"You're actually kinda...cute...when you're not shouting at me, you know that? Very boyish...receeding hairline aside."

Alright, that was it. That was the last straw.

He was about to crack an eyelid open when something cool and wet brushed across his forehead and he froze.

"Oh God, I've lost it. This has to be some kind of side effect from that blow to the head I took. I just told you that I think you're cute."

A muffled, grumpy groan and a slight shifting of his pillow.

"Well, I have lost quite a bit of blood. I'll blame it on that. Yeah. That'll work. I do not think you're cute when I'm in possession of all of my faculties, I assure you."

A snort and a muttered, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, Lydia."

He heard her chuckle.

"You know if I'm not careful, I'm going to end up talking to myself."

A hysterical laugh, "Great, talking to myself and quoting Doctor McCoy...they're gonna cart me off to the looney bin for sure."

That same cool, wet something swiped across his forehead again.

A sigh from above somewhere. "Come on, man, don't do this to me. I am so not in the mood to get a talking to from Weir over you. If you die I'm gonna kick your ass."


"Please, Rodney...wake up."

He wanted to scream "I am awake!" but searing pain drove into the side of his ribcage as something pressed against it.

"I don't know if I should be telling you this or not, since I've heard that people in a coma can hear everything that's going on around them-"

His brain started working a billion miles a minute, echoing the word 'Coma' over and over again.

"But I think that if you understood the severity of the situation, maybe you'd make more of an effort to recover."

That sharp pain in his side erupted again but the pressure increased (presumably her hand) and it subsided somewhat.

"I'm gonna be straight with you here, Rodney, because I know you wouldn't settle for anything less. You're hurt really badly. I think you've got a couple of broken ribs and...well, a concussion, obviously."

He could hear the distress in her voice as she sighed heavily, "I...well...if you don't wake up..." She trailed off and he heard her swallow thickly, "I'm not sure if you're going to make it or not."

McKay felt his insides go cold suddenly and he wondered if it was possible to faint in his current condition.

She was quiet then, just continuing to dab at his forehead with what he assumed was a wet cloth while Rodney was left alone with his thoughts.

He couldn't be in a coma...he just couldn't. He was aware of everything going on around him, he could feel pain, he could hear everything that was going on around him...he could even smell Winter's perfume, faded though it was. By all rights, he was as awake and aware as she was, his eyes just weren't open.

McKay made a conscious effort to try and open his eyes and found that his eyelids felt as though they were weighed down with lead. He did the same with his arm and found it in a similar state.

That couldn't have been good.

"Alright, the silence is driving me crazy," Winter huffed, "If someone's not talking I'm bound to go bonkers, and since you're not being very helpful with that particular problem, I guess it's up to me."

His head jiggled when she chuckled, "That's a personality flaw of mine, you know that? I can't stand silence and if nobody's talking I'll take it upon myself to fill the awkwardness with babble. A friend of mine took me out to dinner and a movie to get to know his girlfriend once, she was one of those quiet types, didn't say two words the whole time...it just about drove me up the wall."

"So he felt awkward, she was awkward and no one said anything. Sometime around the salad I couldn't take it anymore and launched into a detailed history of the X-Men comic book universe. I've never seen someone's eyes glaze over quite so quickly before in my entire life."

Rodney might have laughed at that if he'd been able to, but the pain in his side had managed to double when she shifted and all thought of being entertained flew right out the proverbial window.

Dear God, what the hell had happened to him?

He tried to force himself to remember but everything was a blur.

There had been a mission that Winter had gone on earlier in the week. The only reason he was aware of it was because she wasn't in his lab to pester him during the time she was off world. When she returned, Rodney suddenly found himself volenteered to return with her to the planet (the designation of which escaped him at the moment) because there had been strange energy readings that no one could identify.

Caves. That's what it was. Strange energy readings coming from inside a network of caves.

A network of caves that turned out to be an ancient booby trapped Wraith worshipper's temple.

The energy readings were indeed those belonging to a ZPM, the only catch was the moment the ZPM was within reach, the whole place went bananas. It was like being inside an Indiana Jones flick when everything started falling apart and giant boulders started chasing you.

Alright, granted no huge rocks had come rolling at him, but he still had to run like hell to avoid being crushed between two stone walls that decided to collapse on each other.

Rodney strained his brain, trying to remember how Winter had become involved in that scenario. He hadn't really been paying attention to where she was, but obviously she had somehow managed to get trapped with him behind the wall of rock, hence the fact his head was in her lap.

His head. That's right. Now he remembered. He'd been beaned by a piece of falling debris. That was the last thing he could recall before he had awoke without actually waking up.

His pillow shifted beneath him again and he was drawn back into the present, where Winter was still babbling.

"I'm starting to run out of things to say here, McKay, you damn well better wake up soon." She sighed, "Wish I had a book to read...reading out loud is one of those brain numbing activities that makes me stop thinking." He could hear the change in her tone as it brightened slightly, "When my mom was unconscious in the hospital, I read to her from my favorite book at the time, you know that?"

She laughed, "The second she came out of it, she took it upon herself to inform me just how much she detested Tolkein." Her voice turned somber again, "I managed to misplace my copy of the first book of the trilogy when I first got to Cheyenne Mountain...never got around to replacing it, either. And I-"

There was a crackling noise and Rodney felt the muscles in Winter's thighs stiffen beneath his head.

A very familiar voice rang out, "Doctor Winter? Doctor McKay?"

His pillow relaxed with relief.

"Teyla!" Doctor Winter cried joyously, mirroring McKay's own elation, "We're here!"

More crackling noises followed, like the sounds of stones falling and McKay felt dust springing up from the ground around him.

"We will get to you as soon as possible, Doctor Winter," Teyla replied with that reassuring note to her voice that was so familiar to Rodney, "Are you unhurt?"

"I'm alright, McKay's not doin' so hot though. He took a hit to the head when everything caved in; I'm pretty sure he's got a concussion."

"We have a medical team on standby," Teyla called back, sounding further away than she had moments before, "We will be there shortly."


After what seemed like an eternity, McKay and Winter were finally freed from the confines of the small claustrophobic space, and McKay was transported via stretcher to Atlantis. He could hear Winter filling Carson in on everything that she had seen happen to him the whole way, and when she was called away by Sheppard to tell him everything that had happened during the cave in, Rodney almost found himself missing the constant drone of her voice. After all, it had been the one constant throughout all of this, and for it to be gone so suddenly was rather disconcerting.

He heard the sounds of the infirmary around him; Carson puttering around checking things, paperwork shuffling...but he still couldn't open his eyes. No matter how hard he tried, his eyelids just flat out refused to cooperate.

He stayed like that for three days, just trying to will himself into consciousness. Throughout those three days, he was visited by almost every member of his staff as well as the members of his team. Sheppard came by and kept vigil beside him a couple of nights and Teyla lit an odd smelling candle at his bedside, Elizabeth and Zelenka came by as well, as did Ronon, though he only stayed for a few minutes.

All these things were expected, of course. They'd all visited him in the infirmary before, but what was really strange, was the fact that late at night, Lydia Winter came and sat near him.

The first time she'd come, he knew it was her because he could smell her perfume, faint as always, as though she hadn't put any on in two days and only the slightest trace remained. She sat near him and read aloud to him.

Why she did this, he had no idea. They had never gotten along very well; sometimes getting into shouting matches so legendary the staff would be talking about them for days on end.

And yet she came dutifully every other night or so and read aloud to him. She apologized that she didn't have anything really interesting to read to him, but she did it anyway.

During the three weeks he was in the coma, he got to hear most of the Greek myths all over again, bits and pieces of poetry that he'd never heard before, and some Edgar Allen Poe, which did little to quiet his nerves since most of it dealt with being buried alive.

His favorite part, however, was when she slogged through The Hobbit in four consecutive nights solely for his benefit. She was able to alter her voice enough that he could tell which characters she was portraying and he got an unimaginable amount of glee hearing her say 'My preciousssss' in a squeaky little hiss.

When she was finished with the Hobbit, she sadly informed him that she was out of things to read and that he'd better wake up soon otherwise he faced the rest of his slumber being bored out of his mind without her to entertain him.

Three days later, he did just that.

While Beckett quoted medical reasons for his miraculous recovery, McKay secretly thought maybe he'd only come out of it because he had been bored to death listening to nothing but Beckett's medical chatter.


Two weeks passed quietly on Atlantis after Rodney was released from the infirmary. There were no attacks by the Wraith, no diseases let loose in the city...it was almost like the universe had decided to let him have a little break so that he could recover from his ordeal.

During that time, he'd seen Winter, but nothing was ever mentioned between the two of them about what had happened. She went right back to being her abrasive self and he did the same. It was easier to fall into the familiar routine of snapping at each other than deal with the fact that she had saved his life and kept him going with her inane prattle.

Late one evening, while working on the ever problematic ZPM regeneration project, Rodney entered the laboratory where he knew Winter to be. She had a vital set of notes that he needed and he wasn't about to wait around until dawn broke to get them. After all, she was always up working late anyway.

He was greeted by an unexpected sight when he entered, however.

She had fallen asleep in her chair, head resting half on her folded arms and half on a spiral notebook.

Under ordinary circumstances, he would have awakened her without a seconds thought, but as much as he was loathe to admit it, something about the dynamic of their relationship had changed since they'd been trapped together.

Being as quiet as possible, Rodney crept up to the table she was in front of and shifted a few papers around until he found what he was looking for.

He was about to leave the lab again when he noticed a green book cover poking out from under her notebook.

Curiosity got the better of him and he moved it so he could read the title.

It was a copy of The Hobbit.

Rodney regarded the book for a few minutes before he left the lab just as silently as he had entered.


Lydia Winter stirred in her sleep. Her nose was itching with the tell tale feeling of an oncoming sneeze. Her eyes fluttered and she wiped at her nose absently, wondering where the smell of dusty paper had come from.

A sudden loud sneeze caused her to jolt awake and she glanced around in confusion for a moment, disoriented.

Oh...she'd fallen asleep in the lab again. Of course. Lydia rubbed her face where the metal spiral of her notebook had left impressions in the flesh and yawned wearily.

She really had to stop pulling all nighters. It was reeking havoc on her complexion.

She shifted in her chair, intent on getting up and heading to the mess hall for a cup of coffee when a bit of blue paper that hadn't been on the table the night before caught her eye.

Sitting on the table, next to her notebook and Sharpie marker, was a very worn looking copy of The Fellowship Of The Ring.

Confusion wrinkled her brow momentarily before she picked up the book and flipped it open.

Someone had tried unsuccessfully to scribble over the words 'Property Of R. McKay' on the inside front cover.


A/N: There. I wrote a McKayOC story without it descending into the realm of 'omg so fluffy I think I'll puke'.

Any good?