A/N: I swear, the AU McWinter timeline I set up in 'Of Head Injuries And Hobbits' refuses to die.

I'm blaming the fact that the titles of the first two simply beg for me to write two more corresponding fics because...dude...Tolkien references? How can I pass on that?

So, the timeline is thus: You should read Retribution! first, since it introduces Lydia Winter, then you should read Of Head Injuries And Hobbits, followed by Fellowship Of Physicists and then this. You don't have to...I'd like to think that these things can stand alone, but I do so enjoy having a little timeline in place.

Ok...ready? Let the snarkfest begin!

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Rodney McKay was one of those people with the rare talent of letting everyone in his general vicinity know he was angry without having to say a single word.

It was a gift that allowed him to stalk through the corridors of Atlantis with his fists clenched at his sides so tightly that his knuckles were white, sending smoldering glares at everyone who even thought about looking at him and making people scatter in desperation to stay out of his way.

A growl was threatening to bubble up and escape him as he thundered through the hallways of the ancient city.

This time, she'd gone too far.

This time she'd gone too far and he was going to let her know it.

After all the times Lydia Winter had given him hell about taking her notes, she had the nerve to make off with his.

Didn't the word hypocrisy mean anything to that infernal woman?

By the time he'd reached the door to her lab, he'd worked himself into a rage and his left eye was twitching.

He waved his hand at the panel, the doors slid open and he entered with a roar, "Where the hell are my notes, Winter?"

It would have been a positively spectacular entrance, one worthy of a wrathful deity...

Had there actually been anyone there to witness it, that is.

The lab was empty.

And...quiet.

No horrible, ear drum damaging music, nothing being rustled in a frantic flurry of paperwork, no sound of chalk on one of the numerous boards scattered around the room, no noisy 'tap tap tap' on a keyboard...

No nothing.

Quiet as the grave.

Rodney found himself feeling unsettled.

The place was so...eerily still. Without Winter in it, the room seemed like it was in stasis.

But That was silly. To think of the current state of the lab as being 'in stasis' meant that it was more 'alive' with her in it.

He snorted and shook off the feeling of unease that had crept up and settled on his shoulders; it was the same room, just now it was quiet. That's all.

The quiet didn't last, though.

The doors behind him slipped open and, suddenly remembering why he'd come here in the first place, he spun, ready to face his nemesis with the most terrifying glare he could muster.

He about scared the pants off the lab technician who was there to greet him instead of the aforementioned enemy.

"D-d-doctor McKay," the startled man, who appeared to be the absolute personification of the term 'bookish', stuttered, "W-what're you doing here?"

The anger returning in full force, Rodney snapped at him, "I am looking for the hellcat who usually inhabits this disaster area."

"D-d-doctor Winter?"

"Oh, and what was your first clue?"

"She's not here."

"I'm not blind. I can see that," Rodney gestured around himself, "If you'd care to tell me where she is so that I can flay her, I would be most appreciative."

"D-d-doctor Winter hasn't been in the labs all day, Doctor Mc-Mc-McKay."

"What?" Rodney growled, causing the shorter man to take an instinctive step back, "Then where is she?"

The tech gulped loudly, "Last I h-h-h-heard, she was in her q-q-quarters."

Without another word, Rodney roughly pushed his way past the tech, getting hotter around the collar every second.

Her day off? She had taken his notes on her day off? When she didn't even need them?

It's amazing just how short a time it takes a man to get to his destination when he's angry. Before McKay knew it, he was striding down the corridor that lead straight to her quarters and was banging on the door, forgoing the use of the little tinkling doorbell altogether.

No response.

He slammed his fist on the door again.

The tell-tale little hiss of air that accompanied the opening of the door had him automatically taking in a breath to start shouting at her.

But the words died on his lips.

The Lydia Winter that greeted him at the door was one he'd never seen before.

She looked...

Horrible.

Not that she'd been a great beauty before, but...lord, this was just pathetic.

Her rectangular black plastic glasses were gone, which seemed to intensify the appearance of the dark purple shadows under her eyes and she looked like she hadn't slept in days. There were two splotches of color on her cheeks but the rest of her looked deathly pale and her hair, which was usually so bushy it looked like it was some kind of living entity, was limp and flat.

She took two slow, careful breaths and blinked lazily, "You. What do you want? And make it good, I didn't climb out of my deathbed to hear you ramble at me for twenty minutes."

He didn't answer, just continued to stare in confusion.

Deathbed?

What?

"In or out McKay. I don't care one way or the other at this point, but I am not going to stand here in the corridor with you gawking at me all day."

Was she inviting him in?

Inviting him into her quarters?

She gave a shrug, "Fine."

And the doors slid shut before he had the opportunity to formulate an answer.

He stood there working his jaw for fifteen seconds before he banged on the door again.

When that failed to rouse her, he waved his hand in front of the panel that controlled the entrance to her sanctuary, knowing full well that Atlantis wouldn't deny him because of his ATA gene.

Of course, if she'd tried to rig the thing where it would deny him, he was not above hacking in.

With an axe, if necessary. He was that angry.

Another whoosh of air interrupted his thoughts of going all Jack Nicholson on the stubborn door as it opened for him.

The room was almost completely dark and Rodney very nearly stumbled over a chair that he hadn't been able to see as he ventured inside.

"Winter?"

The only answer he got was a groan from his left, which caused him to snap his head around in the direction of the sound.

"Damned slide-y doors," she grumbled as she sat down on her bed, "Mark my words, Rodney McKay, one of these days I will storm out on you properly. All flaring temper and foundation shaking door slamming."

He made a noncommittal noise as he studied her as best he could in the dim light, "Why aren't you in your lab?"

"Because I'm not."

Rodney eyed her warily, "What's the matter with you?"

She flopped backwards, legs dangling off the edge of her mattress, and flung an arm over her eyes, "I've got the flu, Rodney. How I managed to get it after I've had a flu shot already, I have no idea, but that's the prognosis."

"Where are my notes?" Rodney asked, not buying this for a moment.

Winter shifted her arm so that she could glare at him with one eye, "And the true reason for your visit manifests itself...I shoulda known it wasn't out of concern. I don't have your stupid old notes, McKay. You probably lost them in that raging sea of self absorption that you walk around in all the time."

He huffed, "I don't have them. I assumed you did."

"You know what they say about when you assume, Rodney? It makes an ass out of you and...well..no, in this instance just you."

"That's not funny."

"Well, I'm sick. You can't expect me to be up to my usual standards of sarcasm and biting wit." She swung her legs up on the bed and slithered under the covers awkwardly, "Come back when I'm feeling better and I'll verbally rip you a new one properly."

Now not so much mad as irritated at her gall, Rodney took several steps toward her, intent on telling her exactly what he thought of her 'sarcasm and biting wit'.

She stopped him with a glare, "Go away and let me die in peace, would you?"

Rodney froze in place and paled violently, "Die?"

"Oh for cryin' out loud, McKay...I've got the flu and want to be left alone. Is that such a difficult concept for you to grasp?" She grimaced and shifted, making a grouchy noise as she did so, "It's not like you came here out of concern for my well being. You didn't even know I was ill...you egotistical fat headed jerk."

"There is no cause for name calling, Winter," McKay retorted hotly.

"You wake me up from a sound sleep to rail at me, don't say a word when I actually drag myself out of bed to answer your call, then you break into my quarters just to harass me. In some countries I could kill you now and no one would give it a second's thought...you should count yourself lucky you're getting off with a severe verbal scolding and not me relieving you of your limbs. Now. GO AWAY!"

"Hey, you can't order me around. I'm head of the science department," He replied haughtily, jabbing a finger at her, "You work under me--"

"Not if you were the last man in the universe, McKay."

He stared at her slack jawed for several seconds, "Must your mind always go in the gutter?"

"Mind's gotta leave the gutter before it can go in it. 'Sides, you left yourself wide open." She yawned, rolled over to face the wall and waved her arm dismissively at him, "Tired now. I'll beat you up when I feel like strenuous activity again."

Rodney glared at her back and crossed his arms over his chest defiantly, "I'm not leaving."

"Fine. Stand there all day, you mule. Just keep your yap shut so I can sleep."

Perhaps thirty seconds passed and the woman on the bed turned over to glare at him, "Knock it off."

"What?" He asked innocently, "I didn't say a word."

"You're staring holes in my back. Now, I may not have the energy to beat your face in at the moment, but so help me God, McKay if you don't get out of here right this instant I'm going to kiss you full on the lips just to infect you with this bug and pray to every deity I can think of that it makes you feel as badly as I do right now."

Despite the earnestness of her tone and the angry glare she was shooting his direction, he stood his ground and met her eyes with the same intensity.

She started getting angry, "What the hell is your problem, McKay? Why won't you leave? I don't have your notes and we both know that you don't care that I'm sick...you've got no excuse to stick around!"

"Hey, I care."

"Oh right...uh huh...suuuure. Rodney, in the...what, year and a half that I've known you, our 'feelings' towards each other have gone from absolute loathing, to hatred, to extreme dislike with a side of tolerance." She flopped back on her pillow, "Using that as a progress chart, I figure we've got about six years before we actually go so far as to admit to liking each other. Provided I don't kill you before then."

Rodney quirked an eyebrow at her, "Before you admit to liking me?"

She rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner, "That would be the only part of the sentence you picked up on, Mister Ego."

"So you do like me!"

"Wrong. I liked you for about three seconds after I met you, shortly before you opened your mouth and spoke. I most certainly do not like you now. Especially not with you pestering me!"

Rodney's upper lip twisted into a wry, self satisfied smirk, "But 'The Hobbit' and the snow globe..."

Winter leveled her eyes at him, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"When I was in that coma..."

She turned red, either with rage or embarrassment, "So I suffered a few moments of weakness in which I felt compassion and I have to pay for it for the rest of my life?"

"And my birthday?"

"I..." Winter glanced around like a trapped animal looking for any possible means of escape, "I was paying you back. For the book. The one you left me."

"You do like me," he said smugly, the smirk turning into a full blown grin, "For all your protesting to the contrary..."

"Fine! FINE! You're tolerable! I admit that! I even kinda...enjoy your company...on occasion...when you're quiet." She looked at him severely, "But if you say one word about this to anyone, I'll claim that confession was brought on by a fever and then kill you in your sleep."

"But you like me," he said, sounding far more pleased with this course of events than he ever could have possibly forseen.

"Oh shut up, you," she ground out from between clenched teeth as her left eye twitched.

If at all possible, Rodney smirk widened further.

Nothing quite so satisfying as seeing her this angry at him and without any recourse.

Her expression changed abruptly though and he could practically see the lightbulb flicker on over her head.

Uh oh...

She returned his smirk, albeit with a bit more mischief evident in her eyes, "Ok, fine...sure...I find you tolerable...bearable even...I'll admit that right now freely--" Winter shifted onto her side lazily and tucked her arm under her head, "If you admit that you like me back."

Rodney was left sputtering at the look she gave him, all of that sickliness seemingly drained from her to be replaced with the more familiar impishness that accompanied her misbehavior and defiance to her superior.

Mischief did such wonders for a girl's health.

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A/N: -giggle- Oh it's nice to be writing dialogue again. I do so love sarcasm and I've missed having a character through which to funnel my endless supply of snark.

I had a different ending in place for this and a couple of saptastic moments, but that would have made Lydia turn from 'Somewhat believable OC (even though she is based on me)' to 'TOTAL MARY-SUE!'.

And I just couldn't do that. Plus it would have been out of character for everyone involved. Sappy McKay isn't McKay at all. Sappy Winter isn't Winter either.

Show me the love, my pretties, show me the love. -holds out hands expectantly-