"It worked you know. You and me."

"Really?" Rodney looked up from the report she'd given him to look and see if she was making fun of him or not.

"For a while at least."

They were in her lab, having exchanged greetings, insults and an argument, and had settled down to exchange a few scientific theories and reports. Because it was expected of them by both their bosses, not because Sam wanted too.

"What happened?"

"We got divorced."

"Oh." There was genuine disappointment in his voice but he looked back at her report quickly.

"You were nice,"

"I am nice." He interrupted,

"but I didn't like that reality much."

"They did force you to stay."

"I know, but it was just so depressing too."

"Oh because our reality is so sunny and shiny all the time." She wanted to laugh, but held it in, looking at his report instead of him and that expression of disbelief on his face.

"Maybe not, but still,"

"Still, they did force you to stay and play poster girl." He could tell she still had some issues with that, he was a genius after all and not completely oblivious to what the blonde wasn't saying. That and the look in her eyes, he hated that look, had seen it in Elizabeth's eyes once or twice. "And certainly not the worse alternate reality you've come across."

"True."

"Though, you did look pretty with long hair."

"How do you know that?" There were no images in that file, no images of Dr Samantha Carter anywhere that she knew of. Except Rodney had gone red, that horrible bulbous colour.

"Ah, I may have gotten hold of some screen caps of the security footage." He flinched and took a step back as soon as the words were out of his mouth, and when Sam stood and stepped forward.

"You are perverted McKay." She settled back onto her stool, satisfied the man was sufficiently rattled.

"Maybe, but in my defence, these pictures had been circulating the SGC for a little while."

"Really?"

"I could destroy them for you."

"What are you doing with them now? Wait, don't answer that." She held back more laughter, she couldn't be seen on the security cameras laughing with McKay of all people. McKay did laugh though, with more confidence than she would give him credit for, and she called him a pervert again. "Anyway, enough about my alternate selves."

He wanted to tell her, that he could never hear enough about the alternate reality Sam Carters, especially the ones he'd managed to get into bed but he didn't know what her reaction would be, possibly violent, and maybe, she was avoiding a difficult issue for her and he wasn't a complete bastard.

"Tell me about Rod."

"I hate Rod." She did laugh then, and McKay glared at her. "You would've slept with Rod."

"Sure of that are you?"

"I would've slept with Rod."

"Ew, McKay, that's just wrong on so many levels."

"I know!" He threw his arms up in the air, and avoided her eyes. He couldn't believe he had just said that, and he wasn't entirely sure it was true but Rod had been the kinda guy that Sam Carter would've gone for.

"What's wrong with you anyway? I've only wanted to strangle you twice in the last ten minutes."

"Is that good?"

"For you, very." He still wasn't sure if it was an insult or a compliment.

"When did you feel it?" He moved a little closer to her, sliding across the lab bench towards her. "The complete certainty that you could die doing this."

"I went into the job with that feeling."

"Really?"

"When my mother died, I realised I could die just as easily in a normal job."

"Oh." He was shunned for moment. And Sam was sure she had shared too much with a man she disliked, more than she wanted.

"When did you realise it?" She asked, voice low, soft. If she had to bare her soul then so did McKay.

"When Carson died." He didn't look her, instead looking at the pattern his blunt fingernails was slowly carving into her lab bench, next to the discarded report. "I've never lost anyone I cared that much about before."

"Really?" He shook his head, "it doesn't get any easier."

"I've always been terrified of my own death but this is different. This terror won't simmer down." He was reaching out to her and he drove her crazy but she wasn't going to put him down. She saw that familiar darkness in his eyes. Darkness that followed her around the mountain.

"Rodney, I," she stood, took a few steps closer to him, "have you tried talking to Dr Heightmeyer about this?"

"She's nice, and blonde, but no," he said, "she was good with my claustrophobia, but that's a bit trivial compared to death isn't it?"

"McKay you're scaring me now."

"Sorry." His demeanour had changed from his usual, and when he'd walked into her lab he'd looked ready and willing to verbally spar and try and flirt with her. Now he looked like another man all together. "Listen, we don't have to do this, I'll just take a copy of these reports with me back to Atlantis and have a read of what hair brained rescues you cooked up to save the world in the comfort of my office there."

"McKay, wait." He was already at the door when she spoke and went after him, grabbing his arm to stop him, "I didn't mean it like that, this isn't like you, that's all."

"I'm different."

"Yes."

"What if this is one of the realities where it works. Forever. No divorce, no," he trailed off, he could see he wasn't winning her over and something in his defeat made Sam reach out and kiss him on the cheek.

"I'm not sure I like 'what ifs'."

"I've seen you save the world on 'what ifs'." He told her.

"Doesn't mean I like them."

"Do you like me?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?" He was frustrated, a kiss on the cheek and she was still going to send him away.

"No, I can never tell with you McKay. You annoy the hell out of me and then all I want to do is kiss you. I can't decide what I feel."

"What about what I feel?"

"I know how you feel." She said, letting go of his arm, "I've a couple of realities to tell me how you feel. If don't know how I feel," she shrugged and kissed him on the other cheek. "Take the reports. I'll see you next trip."

"Oh, I that makes me feel a lot better."

"Best I can do." He left, the report in his hand, a little aroused to his shame. So little from Sam Carter did so much. He would take what he could get from her though, because he was besotted and perhaps, eventually, he could make sense of his own feelings, get onto some level with her that wasn't just one sided.

He had a feeling that he gotten somewhere with Sam today though, she'd shown him a little more, and taken what he had to share too.

That had only taken him six years or so.

It was a strange reality he lived in.