SEASON/SPOILERS: Set early Season 3ish, but no real spoilers.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Snippet Written for merlins_sister's belated birthday. Maybe more later, we'll see.

PAIRING: John Sheppard/Kate Heightmeyer. UST (for now).

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.

She easily found him the most difficult of her patients, which most people would be surprised to learn. Some probably figured that someone like Rodney McKay earned that title, but the physicist was surprisingly talkative and forthcoming during all of his sessions. Other might think that perhaps Ronon Dex was the most challenging, and she'd admit that getting the man to open up was difficult, but considering all he'd been through, he'd adjusted rather well.

No, for her, Colonel John Sheppard took top prize.

He'd sit and give her a strained smile. His way of saying "I'm not in the mood to talk." That smile always appeared the moment he sat in the chair across from her. Oh, he'd answer her questions, but the smile never wavered and at the end of each session, he'd talked a while and yet revealed absolutely no new information about himself.

He didn't made any process and it was starting to eat at her.

He'd blink his hazel eyes at her, smile fixed in place. He'd try and turn the tables on her when she asked a question that was too personal. And while she wasn't new to the tactic, John Sheppard was extremely good at it, especially when she'd tried to broach the topic of his father.

Sheppard had stared at her, said he's fine, and asked her about her father.

She found herself with a headache at the end of every session.

Still, she didn't give up easily. John Sheppard would continue coming each week, the therapy made mandatory by Elizabeth Weir. She'd get through to him eventually. She was good at her job, after all. If she hadn't been, she'd never have been selected to go to Atlantis.

And so today she sat across from him again, his hazel eyes staring straight at her. He was never afraid of direct eye contact.

"John," she started, purposefully using his first name and not rank. She addressed every person by their first name during a session. It was personal and casual, two important factors in building trust. Sheppard's gaze didn't waver.

"Don't try, Doc," he said, not even letting her finish her thought. "Nothing new with me. Maybe we could talk about you. Otherwise these forty-five minutes might be kinda boring. Do anything fun with your day off?"

She sighed. "John."

He smiled that same strained smile. "I've been thinking about golfing lately. Setting up a driving range and driving balls into the ocean. I heard you golf."

"I do," she admitted. He'd revealed a hobby she hadn't known about. It was a start. "My father and I play a round each time I visit. You play with your dad?"

"My dad hates golf," Sheppard said casually. "Maybe you could help me teach Ronon how to play. You wear pants or a skirt when you golf?"

It was her turn to give him a strained smile. "My golf attire isn't why we're here, John."

"Maybe not," he admitted, "but it is what I am interested in talking about. Or maybe you could just show me, Doc."

She blinked. Was he...flirting? This was different. Flirting during a session wasn't something new to her. Rodney had attempted it awkwardly, and thankfully she'd used professionalism as a gentle way to turn him down. But even she got lonely. She was everyone's therapist, which meant she really shouldn't be getting involved with anyone.

John's hazel eyes almost dared her.

"You could help me teach Ronon and then kick his ass at a round."

She wasn't the type to turn down a dare.

"I could kick both your asses." She laid her hands across the notebook on her lap, her tone light.

Once again, John's gaze didn't waver. Instead he smiled again, but it was far from the strained smile he usually wore in their sessions. This time it was playful, genuine.

"I'll bet you could," he threw back. "Thursday."

She might be crossing a line. But she might not be. Maybe John would be easier to crack outside of the office. And maybe, just maybe...


...she'd wear a skirt.