Well...Lydia Winter is slowly taking over the fandom with the title 'Most Used OC', thanks to many authors who love her to the point that they write about her. This makes me unbelievably gleeful, and since Retribution! Revisited is being reworked at the moment (the plot is taking a turn that I didn't foresee), and since I got a couple of requests to continue the alternate universe I set up for Lydia in 'Of Head Injuries And Hobbits', I thought I would.
So for all of my fans, and for all of Doctor Winter's fans, and for all the fans who have yet to discover me and mine, I give you the sequel to 'Of Head Injuries And Hobbits'. (That was a hint to go read that first...just in case my 'beat you over the head with it' brand of subtlety escapes you.)
I also dedicate this to SpaceMonkey0941, who has helped rekindle my love of this character, is one of my faithful followers, calls me a Goddess on a regular basis and wants to be me when she grows up. Honestly, to have had that much of an impact on someone makes me very, very happy and I encourage you to go read her stuff and pester her into writing more.
Lydia Winter hated shopping.
Hated it with the burning passion of a thousand supernova-ing Kryptonian suns that she usually reserved for things like Avril Lavigne, bigotry and Rodney McKay.
Wait, scratch that. She didn't hate Rodney so much anymore...just disliked him.
She scrunched up her face and flipped to the next page in her mail order catalog and wondered how exactly it was that she went from hating the man to just disliking him.
While disliking him certainly wasn't anywhere near being fond of him, it was still uncomfortable to have to change her already set opinion of him from 'Thorn in my side, bane of my existence' to 'Tolerable human being whom I no longer have to try and kill on a daily basis'.
In frustration, Lydia flipped the next page of the catalog so roughly that it tore at one corner.
It shouldn't be this hard. This should be child's play next to physics! She had a genius level IQ for crying out loud! She was not going to be thwarted by catalog shopping!
Swiss army knife. No. Commemorative Wizard Of Oz plates. No. A pen with a blonde on it that stripped when you turned it upside down. No!
How could it be this hard to shop for Rodney McKay?
Lydia threw the catalog across the room out of irritation and rolled over on her bed so that she was on her back.
She made a little angry huffing noise and glared at the coffee colored ceiling as though she wanted to see it on fire.
Stupid upcoming birthdays!
She folded her arm across her chest and continued to glare at the ceiling.
What had possessed her to look up his birthday in the first place? Why did she feel like she needed to get him something?
A little voice in her head that sounded suspiciously like her conscience supplied that if there was one thing she hated more than shopping, it was being indebted to someone...
And for some reason she felt indebted to McKay.
Even though she was the one who stayed by his bedside and chattered at him incessently for almost a week, he had to go and prove he'd been able to hear her by giving her his own copy of The Fellowship Of The Ring.
Which was embarrassing enough on it's own, but then he had to go and try to do it anonymously...which spoke of selflessness.
Selflessness and Rodney McKay didn't belong in the same sentence.
He was supposed to want credit and praise for everything he did...that gesture of giving her his worn out, obviously well loved copy of one of her own favorite books played against his modus operandi and just didn't add up with everything else she knew about him.
Stupid as it sounded, she felt...gratitude.
A low, angry growl erupted from her throat.
She wouldn't be able to feel equal to him until she repaid the debt...and that meant getting him something to show him just what his gesture meant to her.
The only problem with this was--well, actually there were several problems.
For a start, she didn't want him to know that she had gone to all the trouble of hunting down a gift...she was only doing this to satisfy that annoying little twinge of conscience she felt in her chest whenever she saw him.
Secondly, she had to find a way to actually give him the gift. She couldn't very well just leave it at his doorway any old time without him getting suspicious...so she'd done a little recon to find out when his birthday was in hopes that whatever she picked out and had sent to him could be attributed to someone else.
Thirdly, she couldn't exactly ask anyone their opinion on the matter. Part of the whole 'anonymity' thing meant that she couldn't let anyone know that she was thinking about doing this.
Finally, and the biggest, most problematic issue of all, was the actual finding of the gift.
It was driving her crazy.
It's not like she could just go to the nearest five and dime and pick out something...she had to rely on catalogs and order something so that it would arrive on the Daedelus in time for his birthday.
That cut down her choices drastically. Lydia had always been a tactile person; when she went to pick out a gift for someone it was a personal affair because she did it so very rarely. Growing up in a family where holidays and birthdays weren't celebrated (and therefore you didn't expect to receive gifts at any given time) meant that if you got a gift, it was very special and whoever had gotten it for you spent a lot of time picking it out.
She did the same. She agonized over presents and relished the feeling she got when she walked into a store and saw the gift. That feeling of touching an item and knowing that the recipient was going to be thrilled with it was something that made her feel all glowy and warm inside.
Not that she would ever admit to anyone that anything made her feel glowy and warm inside.
But now that she had to do her shopping through a few dozen catalogs, it felt like her gift giving instincts were taken from her. She had to depend on photographs--two dimensional images and little blurbs--to tell her what was right for Rodney McKay.
Nothing had clicked so far.
It was making her very, very irritable.
With a growl, Lydia sat up and made a face that her mother probably would have warned would stick that way.
What did you get for the physicist who had everything?
Furthermore, how did you find out without him knowing?
The fact that Lydia Winter was in a foul mood was obvious to everyone who came into contact with her.
Hell, it was obvious to everyone who just spotted her.
The furrowed brow and low, annoyed growly noise she was making were tell-tale signs she was pissed about something.
It didn't escape Rodney McKay's notice that whenever anyone looked at her across the mess hall, they then turned to look at him accusingly.
Oh, like he was the only person who ever made her mad! The woman was a volcano just waiting for an excuse to blow her top.
Never mind that he was usually one who caused the eruption. His point still stood. She was like a beaker of volatile chemicals that could explode without warning.
Of course, the fact that he'd been off world and hadn't spoken to her face to face in a couple of days soothed his fears that it was indeed him she was angry with.
But that left the question of who she was mad at.
Right now the only candidate was her coffee cup, with whom she was having a staring contest.
The disturbing part was that it looked like she was winning. She hadn't blinked in at least a minute and was getting surlier by the second.
Rodney watched with curiosity as one of her friends--biochemist, he believed she was...named Santella, if he remembered correctly--wandered up to her with a tray and a smile.
Winter just turned her head enough to glare at the other woman and snapped at her.
Santella seemed to get the fact that Winter was not in the mood for company and wisely scurried to another table.
She was chasing her friends away.
She really was in a bad mood.
Rodney sloshed the liquid around in his own cup and debated whether or not it was worth the trouble to cross the room and find out what the hell was making her so grumpy.
It's not that he was concerned so much that he wanted to know if it was something she thought he did...so that he could defend himself against her accusations, naturally.
Not that he enjoyed their verbal sparring matches or anything...he just figured that it would save everyone a lot of trouble if she blew up at him the way she wanted to rather than wait for her to explode all over some new unsuspecting tech and make them cry.
Although that might have been entertaining to watch...most of the new batch were completely incompetent and deserved a good dressing down from someone other than himself.
When she snapped at a well meaning and concerned looking Zelenka, however, his decision was made up for him.
She never snapped at Radek. She actually seemed to like and respect him and Rodney had never seen her be anything but nice to the Czech.
Something was seriously wrong here if she was biting his head off.
Rodney crossed the mess hall under the guise of getting more coffee and stopped on his way back to his own table as though he'd just noticed her surly condition.
"What's the matter with you?" He asked, trying to put annoyance into his tone.
"What, my day wasn't bad enough?" She turned her attention skyward as though addressing a deity, "This how you get your kicks?"
Annoyed that he was being ignored, he plopped down in the chair opposite her, "I said--"
"I know what you said, McKay. I was hoping that if I ignored you, you'd go away." She turned her attention back to her coffee cup, "What do you want?"
"What makes you think I want something?"
"You always want something." She sipped her coffee and he saw her grimace at it, "Notes, calculations, a verbal battle, to annoy me to the point of homicide...something. What is it this time?"
"You're upset," Rodney stated simply, realizing just how stupid he must have sounded mere seconds after the words left his lips.
She snorted and waved him off, "Get lost."
"It's not that I care," he answered snippily, "But I'm getting complaints from my lab assistants about it."
He had to fight the urge to get out of his chair and step away when she turned a white hot glare on him, "Too damn bad. I'm not about to confide in you, Rodney, so you can just go take a long walk off a short pier."
Her insulting him only strengthened his resolve to find out what was wrong with her.
"There must be something wrong with you," he baited, "Your sarcasm isn't nearly up to your usual standards."
"Why, Rodney," she said in mock sweetness, "I'm flattered that you think I have standards."
She fumed for a moment and he though she might blow up.
Surprisingly, she didn't.
Instead, she gave a little sigh and sank back in her chair.
"I'm..." she made a face, "homesick. If you must know."
"You just got back from Earth two weeks ago...how can you be homesick already?"
"Not homesick for Colorado Springs or Area Fifty One, you goof. Homesick for home."
"Oh." Rodney looked at his coffee, "Um...where are you from?"
She looked at him oddly, "Oh that's right...you don't know, do you?"
"Guess it never came up," he said carelessly, "Between you trying to kill me and vice versa...we haven't had much time for...you know, chit chat."
She spared him another glare but this one was almost friendly in comparison to the last, "I don't do chit chat."
"Indulge me," he said, "Where're you from?"
Rodney snorted involuntarily, "Wisconsin? What on Earth is there to miss in Wisconsin?"
"See, I knew you wouldn't get it." She sipped her coffee morosely.
"Enlighten me then. What is it about the great dairy state that you actually feel homesick for?"
She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously, "Why?"
"Curiosity." At the look she gave him, he defended, "What? I'm not allowed to wonder what's making you so surly and anti-social?"
"You're the enemy, McKay. I'm suspicious that anything I tell you will come back to bite me later because you'll use it as ammunition."
"I will not. What do you miss about it?"
"I..." she grumbled, "I miss lots of things."
"Cows? Cheese? Fanatically devoted football fans?"
"Oh, ha ha."
"Well then what? It's not like I know what Wisconsin has to offer other than that."
She looked unguarded for a moment and almost wistful, "I...I miss the lake."
Rodney stared at her, "We're surrounded by water and you miss a lake?"
"Atlantis is great and all, McKay, but I miss my lake. I grew up on Lake Michigan."
"So what's the difference? Water is water wherever you go."
"It is not!" She huffed, "Atlantis is...it's dull."
He looked at her incredulously, "And how do you figure that?"
"Atlantis is always blue. It's getting monotonous. Lake Michigan is never the same color two days in a row." She smiled bitterly, "And while that might be the pollution, at least it keeps things interesting because it's never the same."
"And what colors does this magical lake of yours turn?"
She turned her coffee cup around twice as she spoke, not looking at him, "Sometimes it's green, sometimes it's gray and sometimes it's the same color as the sky...so much so that you can barely tell where the sky ends and the water begins."
"Where I grew up there's all these light houses and piers and a whole long line of rocks that jut out over the water's edge where you can climb up and sit down and watch the gulls fly overhead. There's even a band shell where there's concerts in the summertime and if you find the right rock in just the right location, you can listen to the music floating down wind."
She stopped turning her coffee cup and looked at him, puzzled, "Huh?"
"What kind of music?" Rodney asked, trying to sound like he didn't care at all.
"Oh. Um...sometimes jazz...sometimes classical. Sometimes it's folk music. Depends on the night and who's playing." She smiled genuinely, "Sometimes they show movies too...last time I was there they showed The Wrath Of Khan. Had to bring my own blanket and a load of bug spray since it was like, the middle of July, but it was worth it."
Rodney was silent, trying to imagine Lydia Winter on a blanket in the midst of a bunch of people in lawn chairs, fighting off mosquitoes.
It was a picture that didn't mesh at all with what little he knew about her.
"And we've got these fantastic fireworks shows every year at the lake front for the Fourth Of July...but I've never actually gone to one. Too much noise and too many people getting plastered. So I avoid that."
"I should think so."
"There's a carnival type thing every year too...I've only been twice since it's so expensive to buy tickets and eat and stuff, but they set up tents and arcades and rides. Ferris wheels, tilt-a-whirls, you know...standard carnival fare...and sometimes there's bands that play." She gasped suddenly, "And the city museum is on the lake too...revolving art exhibits all year round and of course, it's got Shemp."
"Erm...well, there's a life sized replica of a Wooly Mammoth that I jokingly nicknamed Shemp when I was fifteen." She grinned without looking at him, "The name kinda...stuck."
Rodney was speechless.
She started ticking things off on her fingers, "Then there's the restored trolley line and the positively ancient library that's like, a hundred years old and made of stone. The historical museum...and the pop culture museum/tux shop is right there too...if you want to find something genuinely odd, just wander in there and you'll practically get slapped in the face with it. There's a reproduction of the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue Of Liberty...a couple of war memorials too, you know, pillars and statues and things; there's a torpedo and a huge anchor by one of the light houses...and across from there, there's this big globe made of copper that used to be part of a fountain that had colored lights..."
McKay was staring at her as Winter as she gestured with her hands in excitement. She was being...nostalgic?
"But it's best, it's absolutely best at night...see, a few years back the city went all nuts with nostalgia and started restoring things to the way they were a hundred years ago...there's a bunch of these string lights and old fashioned lamps downtown that you can see from miles down the shore. Just a line of little golden lights that look like they're floating in the middle of the darkness. It's positively gorgeous."
Rodney gaped, "And all of that--I mean...all of that--is at the lake?"
"Within walking distance of it, yup." She tipped her coffee cup and swirled the contents around inside. "So you can see why I miss it. It's not just the water, it's everything about the area around it." She looked at him pointedly, "I mean...isn't there anything you miss about Canada?"
"C'mon, McKay...there must be something."
And for some reason, Rodney found himself telling her about his favorite places and things...
Why her smile got wider and wider as he did so, he didn't know, but after she shared all that with him, he felt obligated to share a little something...just to be, you know...polite.
Not that he was being polite.
Shut up, he wasn't.
That worked out much better than I anticipated.
Lydia practically skipped back to her quarters, where she picked up the catalogs that she'd flung across the room earlier.
Ok, so maybe it wasn't exactly ethical of her to play all surly and nostalgic in an effort to get McKay to confide in her, but it had worked, hadn't it?
Although, she really was starting to feel homesick after talking in such glowing terms about her home town...
She pushed the thought away and turned her attention back to the catalogs.
Now at least she had a few ideas...she just had to be careful about what she selected so that he wouldn't know it had been the things he said to her that had resulted in his gift.
It had to be something that would appeal to him but that almost anyone else could have picked out for him by chance.
She chewed her bottom lip as she flipped from page to page until the gift practically leapt off the page at her.
"If it'd been a snake, I'd be halfway dead by now..." she muttered with a tiny smile. "It's Perfect."
Three months passed and Rodney's few bizarre minutes of nostalgia with Doctor Winter were all but forgotten. They went right back to being bitter enemies--well, maybe not bitter enemies, but they weren't going to be skipping around hand in hand any time soon.
This time it was he who was feeling surly and out of sorts.
He never did like his birthday.
He liked it even less when Sheppard tried to throw him a little 'surprise get together' in his quarters with what seemed to be half the staff.
It wasn't that he minded the fact he was getting a party, what he minded was that Sheppard was using his party as an excuse to chat up one of the new nurses who'd come in on the latest Daedelus shipment.
He was this close to starting to call the man 'Hawkeye' instead of his usual term of endearment 'Kirk'...but he might have taken that as a compliment.
And Rodney couldn't have that happening.
The only good part of this whole thing--aside from the cake, of course--was that he was getting gifts.
At least, he thought they would be.
He refused to open them while everyone was milling about his quarters, so he shoved them into a pile on his bed and swore to everyone he'd open them the second he had time.
Once his sanctuary was emptied, he sat down to open the little gifts one by one, making a note of who got him what...
But no one seemed to get him anything...that he...you know...wanted.
Oh joy, a Kirk-centric Star Trek calendar...a set of stationary for writing to...whoever he had to write to back on Earth...half a dozen books he'd already read...hooray.
He was working his way through the pile, when he came upon a little brown paper wrapped parcel without any marking on it what-so-ever. No note, no card, no labels...no nothing.
He tore the plain paper off and found that the item inside just fit in the palm of his hand.
A snow globe?
He turned it over, shook it and watched as the little plastic pieces of snow fluttered down inside and onto a scene that could have been torn from the most contrived picture book in the world.
A frozen pond, mountains in the background, a little building with a Canadian flag flapping in front of it...
He set the little chunk of plastic down on his bedside table and started to rifle through what was left of the wrapping it had come in.
A little strip of white paper slid to the floor as he shook the wrapper and he picked it up.
Whoever had written it had obviously intended to remain anonymous...they hadn't even hand written it. It was typed.
'For when you miss the snow'
He looked at the snow globe, puzzled.
Rodney shook his head against the absurdity of the theory that had just tried to form in his head...
There was no way.
It was a coincidence.
It had to be.
A/N: Well...I didn't intend to spend like, a whole page describing my home town, but I started thinking about if I wasn't here what I'd miss and it all kinda...spilled out. All those facts about it are true (right down to Shemp and Wrath Of Khan...they showed it at the band shell last summer).
The fact I seem to have such affection for Kenosha surprises me just as much as it does you. I can't stand this city, but if I were to move, I would miss being by the lake so much it would hurt.
Right. Shutting up now.
I remind you, as always. I don't own anything related to Stargate Atlantis; Lydia Winter is mine, but she's always up for grabs. Just shoot me a note before you write about her is all I ask, 'cause I love letting you guys use her.