A couple of things:
- I'm still betaless (*sniffs* Helen, I miss our McKay fangirling MSN chats! Hope you have internet soon!) so any typos here are my fault alone, as are any crappy parts. Apologies.
- There are some mild spoilers concerning Simon for season 2 in this part.
- There's an itty bitty bit of smut-lite. You'll have to wait for the next chapter for the full on stuff :)
Title: The Challenge Of Rodney McKay
Spoilers: Some minor Simon related stuff for season 2
Summary: A return journey to Earth finally gives Rodney and Elizabeth an opportunity to test the waters in their slowly flourishing relationship. Of course, Rodney isn’t the type of man who’s about to make things easy for them…
Elizabeth sighed in unabashed contentment as the hand resting on her thigh absently stroked its way slowly up and down her leg, leaving a gentle tingling sensation in its wake. She smiled to notice how he could have one arm so still and relaxed whilst the other was gesticulating wildly at the TV. He certainly was a man of contrasts.
Until now she hadn’t realised just how much she had missed all this. In all the excitement and drama that becoming the leader of the Atlantis mission had afford her, she’d forgotten how nice it was to just be a woman for once. To snuggle up next to someone she cared about, and not have to worry herself over negotiations, viable power sources or impending alien attacks. And although she hadn’t known it before, this was definitely what she needed right now; a large sofa and a warm body next to hers. The feel of soft cotton against her cheek, the sound of a heartbeat and the smell of an unrecognised aftershave that was delicately enticing her. She probably should be putting the next stage of her plans for the evening into action by now, but they weren’t exactly pushed for time and she was in no hurry to move just yet. Sometimes it was good to indulge in the simple pleasures.
She grinned more broadly as Rodney once more rolled his eyes and used his free arm to indicate at the TV in a frustrated manner.
“See now that’s just insane,” he complained with brutal derision, “I mean, who did the research for this film? A bunch of sixth graders? A t-rex has a bite pressure of four tonnes - if it bit that thing’s neck like that it’d be dead! And how is that meant to be frightening? It’s just an over grown crocodile. My great aunt Freda looked scarier than that!”
Elizabeth tilted her head up to look at him, raising a curiously amused eyebrow, “I thought biology wasn’t your thing.”
“It’s not,” he admitted, with a hint of embarrassment, “I had a…ah…thing for dinosaurs when I was kid.”
She smiled fondly at that, “Don’t all boys?”
He smiled too, his embarrassment seemingly forgotten as she settled back down, snuggling her cheek into his side once more.
They’d headed straight to her house after finally leaving the restaurant; he’d insisted his place was a tip, which she didn’t doubt, and hers was a little closer. As soon as they’d gotten in, she’d switched the TV on, more as a source of reassuring background noise than anything else. However, when he’d seen the film which was on he’d been unable to resist sitting down to watch a little - apparently only to berate it - and she had decided that she’d take advantage of the opportunity to snuggle up on the sofa with him for a while. She’d made coffee for them both, remembering that he liked his strong enough to double as rocket fuel, and had brought it back into the lounge. She’d then casually sat herself beside him, kicked off her shoes and lain herself into his side, her arm sprawled across his stomach. He’d been a little awkward at first, but he’d soon relaxed, as evidenced by his hand slipping from her shoulders down to her thigh. She’d even managed to draw absent minded patterns across his stomach without him flinching too much. She liked that he’d gotten used to that. That her touching him with affection was something he seemed to see as natural.
Still, as pleasant as this all was, she had to make a move. This was starting to feel a little too comfortable and if she wasn’t careful she might end up falling asleep here and waking up in the morning sorely disappointed.
“Oh come on!” he exclaimed incredulously at the TV, startling her out of her thoughts, “Why would it still be following them? Would you look at the size of that thing; they’re nothing more than bony h’orderves to something like that. Why would a predator of that size bother wasting its energy hunting people? Not to mention that-”
“You know what,” Elizabeth interrupted with a slight grin, sitting up and trying to smooth her undoubtedly ruined hair back into place, “I think we’d better stop watching this before you have a heart attack.”
She stood up and crossed to the TV, switching it off. Leaving it on standby was just a waste of energy, and living on Atlantis she’d begun to realise how precious that was.
“I’m not that out of shape,” he half joked in his own defence, clearly not entirely convinced that was true.
She turned back to look at him with a suggestive smile, “No, not all.”
He seemed to catch the intention in her tone because he suddenly looked a little uncomfortable and somewhat surprised. Elizabeth marvelled at how a man who was so confident elsewhere – overly so on some occasions - could lack it when it came to more personal matters. How he could have such a high opinion of his abilities and importance and yet couldn’t see his other worthy qualities?
She smiled to herself. Well, she’d just have to show him how worthwhile she thought he was.
Elizabeth slowly and deliberately walked over to him, settling herself across his lap, her knees digging into the sofa either side of his hips, her eyes locked with his. She ran her hands softly over his shoulders, and smiled to feel his gingerly slide up to claim her waist.
“Don’t you have a meeting tomorrow?” he asked, with only slightest hint of an uneven tone in his voice, “A really early one?”
Was he trying to give her an escape clause? Or looking for a way out himself?
“Well,” she whispered, leaning closer, her fingers trailing over his cheeks, “If I’m going to be yawning all the way through it, I want it to be for a very good reason.”
She suddenly stilled, chewing her lip slightly.
“Unless, of course, you’d rather not…”
She hadn’t really considered that beforehand, but what if he genuinely didn’t think they were at this stage yet? What if it wasn’t nerves and uncertainties making him seem hesitant? She didn’t want to come across as pushy. She didn’t want to ruin this.
“You’re kidding right?” he asked, with a raised eyebrow and a mildly incredulous look.
The broad smile returned to her face once more.
“Well I don’t know, maybe you don’t see me like that,” she pointed out with mild teasing.
He snorted a laugh, “Last time I checked my eyesight was just fine.”
“So’s mine…” she whispered, leaning closer.
Without giving him pause to comment further she pressed her lips softly to his. Pulling away slightly after a few short, tender moments she was delighted to feel his lips searching for hers once more. Whatever doubts he had had seemed to be rapidly fading away.
A little kiss shouldn’t have the ability to make the tips of her fingers tremble, but somehow it did. The feel of his lips pushing and moving gently against hers made her breath catch in her chest and her insides warm. They continued to kiss softly for the longest moment until she could bear the teasing nature of it no long. She didn’t know if it was intentional on his part, but it was certainly doing a good job of making her want him.
Her hands slowly slid down to his chest, revelling in the feeling of another body beneath hers. Her tongue pressed gently at his lips, trying to give him a none too subtle hint about how this should be continuing. Much to her surprise he caught on quickly, the hands at her waist pulling her firmly to his body as she suddenly felt his tongue brush hers. When he found that particularly sensitive spot on the roof of her mouth she let out a gentle moan of satisfaction, a delightful shiver running through her. When she heard him speak her name in a sigh of lust and contentment she knew she was utterly lost to him.
And then the doorbell rang.
She paused midway through her attempt to undo the top button of his shirt and gave a cross frown. Who on earth was calling here at this time of night? And could they have possibly picked a more inconvenient moment?
The bell rang again. A little longer this time.
She sighed in annoyance.
“Don’t go anywhere,” she insisted, climbing off his lap and giving him a quick kiss full of promise.
“Really not going to,” he countered a little too eagerly and she shot him a broad, playful smile in return.
Crossing to the door, she straightened her hair and clothes. Okay, so she was dressed to the nines and there was a man in her lounge at this time of night; it was fairly obvious what they were up to. Didn’t mean they had to advertise the fact to the world though. It was no one else’s business but theirs. This was their moment and she didn’t want anyone intrude upon it.
She opened the door briskly, setting a look on her face that she hoped convincingly got across the idea that she was not best pleased at being disturbed and that this had better be brief.
All that fell apart when she saw who was standing there.
“Simon,” she said hollowly, her voice seemingly caught somewhere between surprised and uncomfortable, whilst her eyes were wide with shock.
She glanced guiltily at Rodney for a moment, before whipping her head back and planting her eyes firmly on the man in front of her. She didn’t want Simon to get suspicious, although she wasn’t entirely sure why.
“Elizabeth,” he greeted with a small nod and pleasant smile. To her relief he appeared to be a tad uncomfortable with this meeting too.
“What are you doing here?” she blurted out in confusion before she considered that that probably wasn’t the best or nicest thing to say.
“I heard from someone who heard from someone else that you we’re back,” he explained in an offhand matter. Clearly he didn’t see that as particularly important.
Nor had he really answered her question.
She frowned, folding her arms across her chest, not being able to stop how defensive she was coming across, “So you what? You just flew out here?”
He nodded with a sheepish smile, either ignoring her mood or not noticing it, “Pretty much…Look, I’d like talk to you. May I come in?”
Elizabeth sighed deeply. What choice was he really leaving her? She could hardly turn him away after he’d travelled so far, as much as a small vindictive part of her would like to.
“Yes, of course,” she said, with cold formality as she stood back and held the door open for him to enter.
He froze a few steps in as he caught sight of Rodney who was by now standing awkwardly, clearly not sure what was going on but having enough instinct to know it wasn’t doing any favours for the progress of their evening.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Simon immediately apologised, not quite covering his surprise, “I didn’t realise you had a guest. I could come back in the morning in you want.”
“No, it’s fine,” she insisted in sharp tone and a shake of her head, “You’re here now.”
She didn’t like how polite and normal he was being about all this. Nor did she like the implication she heard in his voice when he had referred to Rodney as her ‘guest’. What was it to do with him anyway? They had broken up quite decisively before her last return to Atlantis and she hadn’t heard from him since. If he’d come here to play the jealous ex-boyfriend…
Realising that Rodney and Simon were looking at each other in a rather uncertain manner, Elizabeth forced herself into action, taking the diplomatic role of the gracious hostess.
“I’m sorry... Simon, this is Dr Rodney McKay, Rodney this is Simon Wallace.”
“Dr Simon Wallace,” he insisted as he and Rodney rather awkwardly shook hands.
On the back of Rodney’s palm she could see traces of her lipstick which he’d hurriedly wiped from his mouth when it was clear just who was interrupting them. For some reason it made her blush slightly.
“Elizabeth’s mentioned you,” Simon continued, “She seems to think you’re a very brilliant man.”
“Well I try,” Rodney replied with an understated modesty that made her glance at him in surprise. That wasn’t like him at all.
“A little late for a work meeting, isn’t it?” Simon pointed out casually.
“Yes, but that’s hardly any of your business,” she quickly retorted, inwardly flaring but keeping her voice calm.
Why Simon questioning the nature of her relationship with Rodney annoyed her so much, she didn’t know.
“Look,” he said, addressing her and barely noting Rodney’s presence further, “You’re obviously busy but can I talk to you please? In private? It’s important.”
For a moment Elizabeth wavered between responses but in the end her reasonable side won out. After all, he’d flown all this way. The least she could do was to listen to him before she threw him out on his ear.
“Okay,” she agreed with a tight nod, “In the kitchen.”
As he walked passed her, following a familiar route, she turned back to Rodney.
“Won’t be long,” she said, reassuring him with a smile which he didn’t return. The expression on his face was unreadable even to her but she had a feeling it signalled that her plans for the evening were ruined.
There was nothing quite like your ex-boyfriend turning up to put a dampener on the passion.
Closing the kitchen door softly behind her, she stood with her arms folded across her chest and a hard expression on her face. She didn’t need this right now. She had little interest in patching things up with Simon. Or at least it certainly wasn’t the foremost thing on her mind when she was trying to seduce the new man in her life. She’d worked hard to get this far with Rodney and to have her moment of triumph over his insecurities stepped on by the last man to break her heart made her blood boil. Along with all the inhabitants of Atlantis, she and Rodney had been through enough in the last few years, didn’t they deserve their moment?
“Well?” she demanded, making no attempt to hide her impatience. The quicker she got this over with, the quicker she could try and salvage her evening.
Much to her further annoyance he smiled softly at her, leaning on a work top with one hand.
“There no need to be like that, Elizabeth.”
“Of course there is,” she snapped, “You show up in the middle of the night, unannounced and expect me to just drop everything. And in case you’ve forgotten we didn’t exactly part on the best of terms.”
“You’re still angry with me,” he pointed out flatly.
“Yes I am!” she shot back, wondering why he should have thought otherwise, “Simon, you started seeing someone else whilst we were still together, did you think I’d be happy about it?”
When they had last seen each other she had been too shocked and saddened to be angry. It was true that she hadn’t missed him as much as she probably should have, and that she placed him below the Atlantis mission in her level of priorities. Her own guilt at that had tempered her anger at first. It was only when she had been travelling back on the Daedalus that she had come to realise that his actions hadn’t exactly been above reproach either.
“You had been gone a year, Elizabeth,” he explained, in an irritatingly reasonable tone, “I didn’t know if you were ever coming back. You would have done the same.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” she stated with firm resolve, “Even if I wanted to end it, I would’ve waited. I would’ve spoken to you first.”
“Well, I didn’t have that opportunity,” he countered with clear bitterness. He sighed heavily, holding up his hand to cut off her reply, “Look, I didn’t come here to argue. I just wanted to apologise. Properly, in person. I didn’t like how we left things.”
Elizabeth had been fully prepared for a full blown row with him and the so that threw her a little.
“Oh”, she managed tonelessly; partly shocked and partly ashamed at her own outburst that hadn’t given him a chance to talk. She had turned this meeting hostile when his intentions had been quite the opposite.
“Truth is,” he continued, looking down at the way his fingers were splayed across the work surface rather than at her, “It’s been playing on my conscience since you left. I didn’t seem right that you were out there somewhere, thinking I was a jerk. I guess I always hoped we’d remain friends whatever happened.”
After that admission Elizabeth’s anger had faded away rapidly. Yes, it had bothered her too, the way things had ended between them. She was cross at him for moving on, but equally so at herself for having been so selfish as to expected him to put his life on hold whilst she went off with no promise of return. And it wasn’t like she had ever intended to abandon the Atlantis mission once she had it up and running. All she had was a vague idea that she may be able to persuade him to join her one day.
She’d made coffee for them both and they’d sat at the table and talked. He told her a little apprehensively that he was engaged, which she quickly assured him was a very good thing as she offered her congratulations. He asked her about Rodney and she admitted it was early days but that she liked him very much.
She smiled from behind her mug, “He’s not like you. He’s…different. I don’t really know how to describe it.”
“But being with him makes you happy.”
She looked at him questioningly, wondering how he could possibly tell that.
“You should see the big, dopey grin on your face,” he said with a chuckle, “You’re hardly keeping your feelings a secret, Elizabeth.”
“I don’t do dopey grins,” she protested, although she had a feeling that the evidence to the contrary was on her lips as she spoke.
“Yes, you do,” he said with a surprisingly solemn nod, “Just not often enough.”
Ten minutes later he announced that he really had to leave. His return flight was due out in a couple of hours and he had a meeting he just couldn’t miss the next afternoon.
“I’m glad you came,” Elizabeth said with conviction as she removed both their mugs to the sink, “It was good to see you.”
She realised that her pleasure at seeing him was more likely to do with the fact that they now had some sort of closure. She had never been the type of person to like leaving things unresolved and she did feel surprisingly more settled now that they had had a proper goodbye. Not that she hadn’t realised before that it had been bothering her.
Still, she was hardly about to tell him that she was glad he came so she could finally get him out of her life. They’d shared some good memories after all.
“It was good to be seen,” he admitted with a nod and she could sense that he shared some of her relief.
There was a slightly awkward silence.
“Look,” he said indicating towards the back door, “I’m gonna slip out this way if you don’t mind. I never was really into the whole new boyfriend/ex-boyfriend meeting thing.”
“Okay,” she said, drying her hands on a tea towel and walking over to him, “Bye then.”
He hesitated just for a moment before he leant over and kissed her on the cheek.
“Good luck, Elizabeth.”
She nodded her thanks. “And you.”
He stood there for an instant as though he expected her to say more. Perhaps to return the gesture of affection he had shown her, but she knew deep down that it wasn’t right for them. Or at least it certainly wasn’t right for her. She had a sneaking suspicion that she’d never see him again so why pretend otherwise?
“See you around then,” he added as he walked away and opened the door.
“Yeah, maybe,” she said, evasively.
He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment as though he had realised what she had moments before. Then he smiled wanly, turned and walked out the door.
Elizabeth sighed as she shut it behind him. Was that it then? The last of her true ties back to Earth cut off? Did that make Atlantis properly her home now. It had certainly come to feel that way.
She smiled to herself. And she had the cheek to often accuse Rodney of thinking too much.
Speaking of whom, she seemed remember leaving him with a promise to get back to him. And Elizabeth was nothing but a woman of her word. Yes, he had certainly seemed a bit put out by Simon’s arrival but she was sure it was nothing and quick explanation and a few tender kisses couldn’t smooth out. Rodney did have the tendency to think the worst in any situation and she was just going to have to work around that.
Returning to the living room, she felt more light hearted than she had done in some time. She held many weights on her shoulders in her position on Atlantis, and frankly she wouldn’t have it any other way. But right now she had a man she was falling for waiting in her lounge and a whole night ahead of them. The troubles of her work life seemed so far away. Just as they should be.
A broad, playful smile almost touched her lips before she glanced around and realised that the room was empty.