This story contains adult content of a sexual
nature. Do not read if you are under the age of 18. Please also
to you, even if you choose not to read them.
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Characters: Lt Laura Cadman. Dr Rodney McKay. Also features Drs
Katie Brown, Carson Beckett, and Radek Zelenka.
Summary: Whoa. Being a man is like, whoa. In fact, it's more like
Feedback: Yes, please, I would love feedback! Anything, even if
it's only one line, one word!
Length: c. 14,000 words.
Spoilers: Series 2, Episode 4, 'Duet'.
Disclaimers: This is a work of amateur fiction. I am not making
money. I did not invent these characters.
Warning: Deliberate misuse of 'laying'.
Thanks to: Isis for humblingly thorough beta, Ameripicking, and
for the sticks and bones, and Sheldrake for the beating heart,
and Phineasjones for last-minute wonderbeta. All remaining errors
are my own.
For those who do not know these people:
My name is Laura Cadman. I am a lieutenant
in the United States Marine Corps, stationed at the intergalactic
base of Atlantis and currently, I am trapped inside the body of
Dr Rodney McKay.
Being a man is like, whoa.
In fact, it's more like double whoa.
I am so totally not used to this.
It reminds me of when I was little and wanted
to be a boy. I used to wear jeans and my brothers' football shirts,
and everything had to be blue or green. Never, ever pink. And
never, ever anything in the hair, any ribbon or scrunchie or bobby
pin. Mom hated that. She'd been so sick of nothing but boys, and
I was going to be her little special girl. Except I wasn't. Frilly
socks? Nope. Patent leather strappy shoes? No, siree, not me.
Ballet class and Barbie dolls? I chained the Barbies to the backs
of the Action Man motorbikes and dragged them through the dirt
until their heads came off.
Also, I cut my hair. That one time when
I was nine. With the kitchen scissors.
It felt a bit like McKay's hair feels on
me now. McKay can shake his head and nothing happens, nothing
bobs, nothing flies in his eyes, nothing swishes round the back
of the neck. The hair is invisible; it's just sort of there. And
it's not even tied back, either.
The thing is, even though it's kind of cool
to finally be a boy, a man, what I wanted to be all those years
ago; the thing is, even though that's interesting, to see what
it's like-- why, of all men, does it have to be Dr Rodney
I mean, look at the guy!
If I had my choice, if I could be any man
at all, I would not be Rodney McKay. I would be, hell,
I'd be, I don't know. Colonel Sheppard would be good, or that
Ronon guy, man, that would be something. Those guys have got muscle
and they kick ass and they strut around, being manly and all.
They're what I joined this freaking outfit for, so I'd get to
wear those snazzy boots and those out-of-this-world combat suits.
So I'd get to strut and swear and shoot the bejeesus out of alien
Not to be stuck in some kind of flabby excuse
for a bod!
And it's flabby, all right. He doesn't even
know it is, he doesn't care. But I know. I feel it. There's flesh
up around the belt, it moves when he walks. When we
walk. And when he undoes the belt, it all sort of goes gloomph
and relaxes down and out. I did not go running for two hours every
day for the past eight years so that my tummy can go gloomph
when I take my belt off! It's gross, that's what it is. It is
I do not know what that Katie Brown
sees in him. I have no idea. You wouldn't catch me
wasting a Friday night on a date with Rodney McKay.
So what's with this waking-up shit? Does
this happen to him every day?
He gets up, and there it is: low-level headache.
Now, I haven't had a headache since that
time in high school when I fell off the rappelling cliff at Brandon
Gorge that one time because me and Freddie, we had a bet that
we didn't need to secure all the carabiners, just the front-locking
ones. Plus, we didn't wear helmets. That was part of the bet,
too. So no wonder. Nine-foot drop. Could've been worse.
But McKay: he isn't dropping off any cliffs.
All he's done is sleep. He should be rested and raring to go.
Ten miles before breakfast, I could do that, easy. And then some
nice orange-and-grapefruit juice, or what passes for orange-and-grapefruit
juice around these parts, to go with a huge bowl of raisin bran
and a double helping of...
No, we're not doing that, it seems. No running.
No stretching, even. No pre-breakfast exercise at all. It's straight
into the shower. Well, that's something at least. At least we're
going to keep clean here.
He keeps his boxers on in the shower.
"McKay," I tell him. "Do
not keep your boxers on in the shower."
"What? What?" He still gets startled
every time I say something. He drops the soap and bangs his temple
on the shower head, and ow, that hurts. I felt that, too. Then
he's scrambling round for the soap and oops, are those his feet?
I haven't yet seen McKay's feet up close. Weird: they don't look
at all like my own feet.
"It's unhygienic," I inform him.
"You can't wash properly with your boxers on. You've got
to take them off."
"I am not taking off my underwear,"
says McKay. No, he doesn't say that; he snaps that. "And
that is final."
I roll my eyes inside his brain but whoa,
maybe I was rolling them a little too forcefully because now the
shower cubicle is rotating like it's in a Hitchcock movie and
I'm getting vertigo because that was unexpected.
"Don't do that!" yells
McKay who's grabbing onto the shower curtain.
I want to grab on as well but it's a stupid
idea, how is the shower curtain going to hold anyone up? I try
to yank McKay's hand off the curtain but it seems my yanking isn't
as forceful as my eye-rolling. Nothing happens. He stays grabbed
onto the shower curtain, and then he doesn't because the whole
shebang just sort of rips off in slow motion and falls onto his
head; and now I can't see anything, the world's gone blue with
yellow flowers all over it.
"Never," McKay says in a voice
muffled by plastic, "never talk to me in the shower
"Okay, okay," I say. "Geez.
I'm just thinking of health issues here."
"Kindly leave my health to me, and
no, I do not want you ogling me in... in the nude. It's bad enough
having no privacy at all. I want to preserve at least some vestiges
"You know, it isn't as if I've never
seen a man's naked genitals before."
not the right thing to say. That gets him really mad, tearing
at the curtain and making a sort of growling noise, and there's
water dripping into my eyes and soap going up my nose.
So we're out of the shower, only half clean,
and the headache's gotten worse. It's kind of throbbing now, above
both ears. I don't like the feel of it at all, and I'm thinking,
this is so the wrong kind of body to be trapped in, this is the
worst kind of body. And there's a sort of pressure as well,
down below the navel, darned if I know what it is.
Oh. I know what it is.
I grin. He's got to take off his boxers
I can't remember how we got through this
yesterday. Bed pan? I don't know. I was still in a daze, in the
infirmary, still sort of concussed. If you can be concussed without
even having a freaking head. But now? I'm all there, oh yeah,
and this is going to be interesting.
McKay is not taking his boxers off even
now. His, I should add, sodden boxers. That are highly
uncomfortable, all clingy and cold and riding up his crack. My
crack. Because I can feel that, and it's not pleasant.
"Okay. Why are you sitting down to
"I always sit down. Do you mind?"
"Well, as it happens, I always sit
down, too. So no, I don't mind. I was just wondering, you know,
what it feels like to do it standing up."
"I am not your personal trans-sexual
human experiment. And will you stop talking to me while I'm in
here, going about my morning ablutions, because this is really,
really not the time nor the place, so can we just get on with
it? I mean can I just get on with it?"
"Yeah, of course. Go right ahead."
He's not taking off his boxers. He's sitting
on the can and he's groping round inside his shorts, through his
fly, and pulling out his...
We have touch.
So that's what Dr Rodney McKay's dick feels
like in Dr Rodney McKay's hand.
He's got hold of himself between the tips
of thumb and index finger.
He's very careful not to grab more. Because
he doesn't want me to feel it, that's why, I just bet that's
why. And he's very careful not to look down. Because he doesn't
want me to see it, either. All I can see is the wall across
from the john, made not of tiles but of that weird styrofoamy
stuff that you get so much of at this place, some sort of intercosmic
fibre thing. So I'm staring at the white foamy stuff, and down
below, there's a hot stream of piss whooshing out, and it doesn't
feel so much different than when I was still a girl.
Then he shakes it (and yeah, that's a bit
different), and now that I'm attuned to it, I can feel it wobbling
around inside his boxers as he gets up. And okay, that is strange.
I bet there's pee all over the toilet what
with him not looking but he's out of that bathroom in a shot --
"Hey, aren't you going to wash your hands?" "What
do you think I am, do you think I tinkle on my hands?" --,
and he did say 'tinkle'. Which is hilarious.
All of a sudden I'm missing my pussy. Now,
who'd have thought it?
Thankfully, he finally loses the wet boxers
and puts on dry ones, staring resolutely at the ceiling all the
while, and then he's dressed, and his pants are tight so that
jiggly-wobbly sensation stops and we're sort of back to normal.
'Cause the pants are also kind of constraining,
the fabric is pressing against his dick in all the wrong places,
and the balls too, my oh my. I'd never really thought about the
balls before but there they are, taking up a surprising amount
of space inside of those poly-velcro or whatever they're made
of civilian pants of his, and how do guys ever manage without
Ah, that's better. So that's what you do.
You need to bend your knees a little and hoick and grab and pat
everything around a bit, and then it snuggles into place and yes,
we're good to go.
He hasn't even noticed he's just done that,
Because he's all intent on walking now.
He's walking very fast. His walk is different than what I'm used
to, his hips move differently, and the knee joints are somehow
attached in an unfamiliar way to the thighs. But it gets him around
very fast and before I know it, we're in the mess hall and making
a bee line for...
... the coffee.
"Oh no, you don't! I'm not having that
in me first thing in the morning! Caffeine is so unhealthy;
people think it gives them a shot but it only lasts for like,
a half hour, it causes cancer, it's totally acidic and fantastically
bad for your stomach lining and..."
I guess Rodney McKay doesn't give a crap's
ass about his stomach lining because he's pouring that stuff down
my gullet like nobody's business.
And hooray! The headache has stopped.
This man must really be addicted.
"You must really be addicted,"
I tell him. "You've got to break this habit. I mean, it's
giving you headaches, you're having withdrawal symptoms..."
"You are too right that I am having
withdrawal symptoms. I am having withdrawal symptoms from my life!
And no, we are not going in that direction, why are you trying
to make me approach the fruit tray? I cannot ingest citrus, you
know that I'm allergic, I've mentioned this a thousand times already."
"It is so much healthier than that
caffeine shit. You're poisoning yourself! Every day! And poisoning
me! Yes, me, because now that I'm in you, I get poisoned as well."
"Oh, spare me your sermonising. Isn't
it enough that I am stuck with you in my head? Do I have
to listen to your whining all day, as well? Can't we just have
breakfast with at least some semblance of peace and quiet?"
"Well, it's not just you stuck
with me. I am stuck in you. You know that?
I didn't ask to be here, and let me tell you this is one hell
of a crappy body to be stuck in."
His voice goes all calm when he replies,
but I know he's not calm because I can feel his heart buzzing
like a killer bee, and his breath is shallow. "Now, Cadman,"
he says, all calm and slow but with his heart going badoomph,
badoomph. "I would really be very grateful if you stopped
making personal remarks in that infantile way. Especially personal
remarks about my body which, might I remind you, is the only body
you've got at the moment so why don't you just be grateful for
it and be a good quiet girl and let me get on with the important
things so that we can maybe, just maybe, rescue this hellforsaken
"You're just being stubborn. I bet
it's not a real allergy. It's probably just a trick of the mind."
"I am not being stubborn!"
he yells, so loud that a dozen heads swivel round and someone
drops their plate with a clang. "It is not a trick of the
Friday, early afternoon
It is not a trick of the mind.
We're sick as dogs. We just about made it
to the bathroom after that post-lunch siesta during which I snuck
out to get my fix of grapefruit juice, it's not as though it was
a lot, just a tiny sip; and it's not even real grapefruit, either,
just some weird off-world substitute. But, boy, was that a mistake,
because now I'm hanging onto the toilet bowl for dear life. There's
sweat on my neck, my stomach muscles are convulsing, and green
and yellow spots are dancing the polka across my eyeballs.
"Jesus, Cadman, you're a full-blown
hell of an idiot." McKay presses the words out through gritted
I am even willing to concede this. I don't
get the chance to say anything, though, because now we're vomiting
into the toilet bowl.
Shit, this feels so not good.
"I swear, Cadman," he gasps. "You
making me suffer like this..."
"Don't worry, it's my allergy too,
now. I'm suffering, too."
"Good," he says, "good."
And then we both zonk out on the bathroom mat.
Figures. He just isn't fit enough. Not as
fit as me, anyhow.
So it figures that he'd be out cold for
longer. Me, I've woken up and I'm laying here on the mat, staring
at the shower from below, seeing everything upside down, the shower
head and the curtain all off its rails. It's not very entertaining
but he's still too weak to get up; I tried. So I make McKay lift
his hand instead.
I hold up his hand and I look at it.
I will the thumb to fold inwards. The thumb folds inwards.
I will the hand to make a fist. The hand
makes a fist.
I will the hand to flip a bird. The hand
flips me a bird.
It is very strange. This is not my hand.
And yet it is my hand. I always thought I knew my hand inside
out. 'I know it like the back of my hand'. Dumb expression. Who
knows the back of their hand?
Seems I do, though. Did. Now that it isn't
my back of the hand any more, I really notice. I remember,
too, how it should look. It shouldn't have a vein there,
and there shouldn't be so much of the fleshy pads showing above
the fingernails, and the joints shouldn't be so wrinkly. My thumb
shouldn't hook over like that, and my fingernails are always just
a little bit bitten. These fingernails are short and smooth and
kind of pink, and the middle fingernail has white spots on it.
Calcium deficiency. There are wisps of hair all across the back
of the hand, and up the forearm as well.
I turn the hand over. Even the lines in
the palm, it's like looking at an alien hand.
It's spooking me out. I put the hand away
and I stare at the shower head.
After a while, I raise the hand up again
and start biting the side of the thumb.
The hand feels big and warm against my mouth.
It's a weird hand. It's an okay hand. But
damn it all to fucking hell, it's not my hand.
Friday, early evening
There's something that I haven't told McKay.
He's striding along through the corridors,
and for once, I don't care, I'm just along for the ride right
now. I've got some happy thoughts to occupy me, and I'm just hanging
on in here, thinking my happy thoughts, my gleeful thoughts,
because I pulled one over McKay; oh, this is going to be so good.
Thing is, when I snuck out while McKay was
having his siesta in my brain? I didn't only go and drink that
juice, okay, which was a mega-stupid thing to do, I see that now.
But I also did something else, hee, it's making me giggle inside.
I went to see Beckett, Dr Beckett, Dr Carson Beckett,
in the infirmary. And I invited him along to this date of McKay's
later on tonight.
So yeah. If I had a face, I'd be grinning
all over it.
And because of the grinning to myself inside
McKay's head, I'm not really so bothered right now about being
schlepped all over Atlantis, into transporters and out of them,
along corridors and along some more corridors; he knows places
in this city that I didn't even know existed. But then he's been
here much longer than me.
One thing, though. I have to say it is really
cool to have the Ancient gene.
The way he doesn't even have to lift his
hand to open doors. I mean, I thought it was amazing that all
you had to do was wave your hand across some glowing panels and
make doors open and lights turn on but the gene is something else
entirely. Oh boy, that gene thing is so awesome. Here,
for example, here we are at a door, big huge door, more like a
warehouse gate, and all he has to do is think at it. I
can feel him thinking at it. There's a sort of jolt in
his thoughts. No, not a jolt, more like a reshuffling. First time
I noticed it, I was like ooh, what was that? And once he's
done this shuffling, it's like the thought sort of goes out of
his head into the door, and whoosh, that door just glides
right open. We march through, and he's going shuffle in
his head, doesn't even stop, just keeps on marching, and I can
hear the door whooshing shut behind.
Faucets, too. Just thinks at them and water
spurts out. Lights. Air conditioning. Toilets flushing. Those
dimmer things on the windows. Computer displays. It's brilliant!
So where are we now? Aha, I know. This is
the hangar. Dr Zelenka's hangar.
We are in this hangar seventeen million
times a day. I getting so sick of this hangar. And we see Dr Zelenka
seventeen million times a day, too. I barely even knew how to
pronounce his name before, when I was still me, but now, since
yesterday, we've been practically joined at the hip.
I think I'll just try to relax and think
my happy Dr-Beckett-thoughts. Because once those two, McKay and
Dr Zelenka get talking, I might as well be in a coma; they talk
a mile a minute, they shout and they wave their arms, and what
they yadda on about makes about as much sense to me as parakeets
yacking. And they never explain anything. You want to ask a question,
they just yell at you to shut up. Well, McKay does; Zelenka stops
and waits, and then starts up again a minute later, blabbering
at the speed of sound.
Well, let the shouting roll, and the arm
waving, and the blathering on about I don't know what. I can't
understand four-fifths of the things that come out of my mouth
when I'm in this hangar so it's easy to tune them out.
To tune them out and think about Dr Beckett.
I have to say that before, when I was still
me, I didn't see Dr Beckett an awful lot. I'm not the kind of
person to get sick a lot. I'm never sick, heck, I don't even get
menstrual cramps. But there was that time when we were together
for a bit, right after I saved his life. When we were out on that
planet, can't remember the name of it now, some long string of
numbers and letters. And when I'd hacked that six-foot tall man-eating
plant to death, if you can hack a plant to death, with my standard-issue
machete. Just after that, with the tendrils wrapped around him
and his shirt sort of torn and when he still had plant
juices dripping down his face and looked like something hatched
by that mother from Aliens. He sort of looked at me then.
A look look.
And god, does he have a pair of gorgeous
And the way his eyebrows sort of slope across
the top of his eyes. And the way his hair curves around the top
of his ears. And that three-day beard, and that cute little pompadour,
and those hands, and those eyes, oh my, those eyes.
Now, of course, I see Dr Beckett ten times
a day, but he never looks at me anymore. He looks right through
me, and he just says, "Rrrodney."
Like I'm not even there.
Actually, it's not just him, either. Come
to think of it. It's everybody.
It is quite amazing how men look at men
in a different way than how men look at women.
Or how men look at McKay, I should say.
I've got no idea, after all, how men look at men in general but
the way that they look at McKay? That is very different
to how men look at me.
Even men who I didn't like and who didn't
like me. They still looked at me, I don't know, they acknowledged
me as a woman. And now they just sort of stare through me. Or
around me. Or.
It makes me feel like a ghost. Like I've
lost my outline. Like I'm part of the decor on the walls.
So I'm hoping that it'll be better tonight.
I'm hoping it so much. That Dr Beckett will somehow see
me. He knows, after all. He knows all about me being trapped inside
McKay. He knows that this isn't my real body but that the real
me is in here, somewhere, and surely he'll remember, once we're
out of that depressing infirmary environment and in nicer surroundings.
Maybe there'll be candles, and flowers... No, what am I thinking?
There aren't going to be any flowers because if there were going
to be flowers, McKay would have to be bringing them, and when
I said, "McKay, why don't you take her some flowers?",
he snorted and said, "Cadman, she's a botanist. What
would she want with flowers?"
I never heard anything so dumb in my life.
Anyway, here we are, doing the shouting
and the waving and the mouth compressing, oh yeah, we have to
do the mouth compressing, it seems. We do that mouth compressing
so much that my cheeks start to feel like they're stuck in a nutcracker.
And then suddenly it's all quiet, and I tune back in, and there's
And yeah. He's looking at me all
I know that look. That is a real look.
It is so much of a real look that it goes right through my eyes
and down past my throat into my stomach, McKay's stomach, and
there it settles, whoomph, above his flabby waistline.
But McKay, does he notice anything?
Guy's as thick as a three-foot brick wall.
There's this moment of quiet but it turns
out that's only because of me. Because I've been so dumbstruck
by that look of Dr Zelenka's. That sort of lost look, with the
fluorescent lights reflecting off his glasses; maybe it's those
lights that are making his eyes look lost.
But then I remember myself, and McKay continues
shouting and waving and lip-compressing, and I'm here, inside
his head, kind of reeling. Kind of thinking, whoa, if it wasn't
for Dr Beckett. And then remembering, double whoa, this one's
not for me.
This one seems to be looking at me
but he's actually looking at McKay.
Finally, we're on our way. I'm so excited!
And so is McKay, hah. I can feel it. I can feel his pulse racing,
shoom shoom. Or is that my pulse? Hard to tell.
Five more minutes and I'll be having dinner
with Dr Beckett!
But McKay. What am I going to do about McKay?
And what is he wearing? But would he take my advice? You
bet not. I mean, running shoes! Who wears running shoes on a date?
And tuck in your shirt, man, don't let it flop over your belt,
that's what Boy Scouts do; it's bad enough that the shirt looks
like it's from the discount rack at K-Mart. I guess, though, that
what with the flabby belly and all it might even be better to
let the shirt hang out, but at least do up the jacket buttons!
What on Earth, and what on Atlantis, does
Katie Brown see in him? It must be some sort of power thing. It
can't be anything else. She must be one of those civilians who
fall for sciencey authority, and what with him being the right-hand
man of Dr Weir and the smartest guy in two galaxies and wow, look,
he gets to go off-world and I don't, poor me, I just get to sit
in my lab with the plant specimens he brings back for me. Or not.
Plant specimens? Flowers? Chocolate? Not
even a bottle of anything.
But Katie Brown, she didn't just agree to
this date thing out of pity. She was really excited. And
I know! I saw!
You wouldn't think it to look at her. All
prim and proper. 'Proper little madam', is what Mom calls girls
like her. I mean, don't get me wrong. Katie's a sweetie and all
but she is just a teensy weensy bit buttoned-up. The way
she got all shy at the girls' poker night when she was down to
just her bra and panties. What did she think strip poker was?
Not that she's got anything to hide. I don't get what she's so
uptight about. I mean, those tits, they are fabulous. They are
She got them out in the end. Just needed
to get enough vodka in her. All shy and prim at first but then
later, after the panties had gone flying one way and the bra another,
whoa, that girl was crazy. With her cheeks all red and
her hair like whoosh, and she's biting down on one strand,
chewing her own hair, and she's giggling, "Ooh, girls, girls,
I've got a date, with Dr McKay!"
Huh. Little does she know.
And yes! We're here! This is it! This is
the door to Katie Brown's quarters!
Ring the chimes, you dolt. Don't just beam
your gene at the door and barge on in!
Friday evening, some time later
Okay. Not a good idea.
Bad idea. Terrible idea. Excruciating
This so-called 'date'. What was I thinking?
Things are so totally screwed. Inviting
Dr Beckett along as a fourth wheel: so not a great idea.
Third wheel. Whatever. I'm the fourth wheel. I'm the fifth fucking
wheel, I'm the spare wheel, I might as well not be here, this
is so, so, so not a good situation.
McKay might be a genius in the astrophysics
department but where women are concerned? Hopeless. Absolutely
rock-bottom hopeless. Marching in like he owns the place. Wolfing
down the salad without so much as a 'how-de-do'. Babbling on in
a completely ridiculous way. Slugging that wine down like nobody's
Somebody, help. Get me out of here.
I'll just have to take over. I'll take over,
and I know, I'll make McKay get up and walk on over and give Katie
Brown the kiss of a lifetime, show the man how it's done! And
then I'm out of here.
"Turn around," he says. "Turn
around. We're heading back."
"No, we're not." Is he insane?
"Yes, we are. I need
to get back there immediately. I need to explain! I need to apologise!"
"Apologise?" Nuts, truly nuts.
"For what? For the appalling,
the absolutely spectacularly inappropriate behaviour..."
"Inappropriate? You kissing Katie?
Come on, how was that 'inappropriate'? Or 'appalling'? That was
probably the one time in your life that you were being truly honest
with a woman."
"Excuse me, what do you know about
my life? What would you know about what's inappropriate
or appalling in my life? You're sadly mistaken if you think
that my idea of so-called honesty is practically assaulting a
woman, making unwanted advances..."
"Oh, c'mon, she liked it. I
could tell she liked it! Didn't you feel the way she kissed you
back? How she was getting all soft in your arms and opening up
her mouth and..."
"This is not what I want to
"And you liked it, too. Don't pretend
"I did not like it. I do not
like being invaded by my own body!"
"You did like it, McKay. I could feel
that you liked it! I could feel your horny hard-on."
And that makes him shut up. That makes him
shut up good. Who's he trying to kid, anyway? Without me there,
he'd never have done anything about it. He'd just have gone on
sitting there and stuffing lettuce into his face. And anyone could
tell she was up for it. She was practically gagging for it! Also,
I thought, if I say so myself, that I did quite a good job there,
with the kissing technique and all. I bet he, left to his
own devices, would not have had a fifth of that kissing technique.
I bet he's one of those guys who grunt and who slobber
when kissing, and yeah, he should thank me for having spared Katie
Brown the grunting and the slobbering!
But no. He's not saying anything. He marches
into his room, he thinks the door shut, and then he takes a few
heaving breaths, like he's trying to calm himself down, and then
"Cadman," he says, "it pains
me to have to say this but..." And what, is his voice literally
cracking now? "...you are not a lady."
Stomping into the bathroom, flinging open
the toilet lid, pissing in a great big arc, clearly not caring
what I'm seeing any longer, not even bothering to sit down.
"Just because I call a spade a spade!"
I shout at the inside of his head.
Throwing cold water on my face, ouch, that
was unexpected, and then lathering up with the toothpaste and
spitting into the basin, leaving globs of toothpastey spit on
"What century are you living in, anyway?"
I yell inwardly. "What galaxy are you living in? Lady!
Lady! Do I look like I wear a long bustly skirt?"
His mouth is set in that grim line that
makes my jaw hurt. He's kicking his shoe across the room, and
then he tries to kick the other shoe; he hits his ankle with the
freaking shoe but he's not cursing, I'm cursing, I'm going hell
for leather. He just bends and picks up the shoes, the running
shoes, and then he arranges them side by side next to his
chair, and then he's in bed, and I'm still yelling:
"Next you'll be opening doors for me!
Pulling out chairs! I'm a fucking lieutenant of the United States
Marine Corps, and this is just a crock of crap I don't need, especially
from a jumped-up, uptight civilian who can barely string two words
together when sitting across from a so-called 'lady', and what
do you think that is I carry around with me, do you think that's
what ladies carry, a P-90? In their sequined purses, perhaps?"
But he's out. Like a light. Just like that.
And I'm left hanging, fuming, raging. He's managed to shut me
out, I don't know how he did that, but now he's asleep, I can't
fucking believe this.
I'm not asleep. I'm seething.
I'm staring at his pillow because, of course,
he's on his front, and I hate it when he does that, just
throws himself on his bed, face-down, who sleeps like that? I
mean, why does anybody need a special orthopaedic mattress for
their back when all they do is sleep on their front and
dig my nose into the sheets?
I wrench my brain into gear and I make his
body get up.
I pace. I'm pacing around his room. How
did I get into such a state? I don't know why I'm in such a state.
It's him, he's the one who should be in a state.
Stupid shoes. This is the second time that
I've tripped over them.
I pick them up and I chuck them at the wall,
first one, then the other. Kerthunk.
Okay. What is this? Why am I in this state?
And I am in a state. It damn well got to me when he called
me not a lady. It's the stupidest feeling ever. I don't
even want to be a lady, it's the last thing I want to be.
So why am I getting into such a state when he's telling me I'm
not one? I mean, what does he think I joined the army for, huh?
To traipse around in high heels and bat my eyelashes? To have
doors opened for me and the man walking on the street-side of
the pavement to protect me from the big bad cars? I can
open my own freaking doors, and I am here to protect men
like him from big bad things, and...
...and come to think of it, McKay is actually
the last man on Earth to open anybody's door or pull out anybody's
chair. And if a girl batted her eyelashes at him, I don't think
he'd even notice. The stupid dolt.
I've started to chew on his thumb nail.
This is no good. I'm going to have to go
running. To calm myself down.
Where are those shoes of his? Can't see
a thing in this stupid room; does the gene work even when he's
asleep? Not going to risk it. I just turn on the lamp manually.
There are the shoes, laying around where
I threw them. I sit down on the bed to lace them up, left shoe,
right shoe, tricky actually, you wouldn't think it'd take so long
to put on a simple pair of lace-ups. And it's good that they're
running shoes because, yeah, I am going to go running.
The bed's still warm with the warmth of
his body. His, mine. I put my hand on the warm dent in the pillow.
I look at the night stand. There's an alarm there, a mug with
some kind of picture on it, an unchewed apple, a photo in a frame.
I pick it up: it's a picture of a white fluffy cat.
He's got a cat? Guy like McKay? You'd figure
he'd be allergic to cats.
That's the only photo on his night stand.
His desk is pretty empty, not even a laptop,
not like his workstation at the labs. There's a pair of sunglasses
in a case. I put them on; the room turns brown. They feel expensive;
I bet they've got some sort of state-of-the-art polarised lenses.
There are two desk lamps here, another apple, his headset. A wool
hat. I put it on; it's snug and itchy. It smells funny. There's
also another framed picture, a black and white photo of two people,
guy and girl, I've got no idea who they are. They look like something
from long ago through the sunglasses, like one of those old sepia
photographs. The guy and the girl, they're standing in front of
what looks like a barn; they're both squinting because, I guess,
the sun's in their eyes. There's a shadow on the barn wall: the
McKay? I look at the shadow for quite a
while. I imagine him taking that picture, holding the camera,
standing with his legs apart so that the camera won't wobble,
pressing the shutter, telling them not to move or to move closer
together. One of them coming to take a picture of him. All of
them putting the camera on a rock and taking a self-timer picture,
with their arms around each other.
But those other pictures aren't the ones
that he chose to take with him to Atlantis.
And maybe they weren't even taken. Maybe
that's just me, making things up.
I take off the hat. I put back the photo.
I put back the glasses. I go running.
Friday, before midnight
This is nice, this night-time run. This
is okay. I've missed this but oh boy, this body is out of shape.
Just fifteen minutes and already he, I , we are huffing
and puffing and there's a pain shooting up through my left hip
but hell. We've just got to start back at square one and get on
with it. Get the heart rate up, get the blood pumping.
Get the brain thinking. Get the thoughts
That's what I like about running, it gives
the brain a chance to clear. And my brain needs clearing because
my brain is full of darned Rodney McKay. And Katie Brown. And
Dr Carson Beckett. And what McKay said and what he didn't say,
and what Dr Beckett didn't say. And that hell of a date.
And Katie Brown's pert little tits, crushed
up against my chest.
It'd be nice to have my boobs back. They're
not fantastic boobs or anything. They're not anything special,
And he did so have a hard-on. I don't
care what he says. And it felt weird. In fact, it creeped
me out. Not that I wanted to admit that to him. Never. But it
was, and it did.
And Katie Brown swooning at him, like he
was god's gift or something. But only right at the end. Only when
he was kissing her.
When I was kissing her.
And all the time the person I really wanted
to be kissing was sitting right there, sitting at the table, being
shocked and saying nothing and not looking at me.
I mean, he knew I was in there, right?
Okay, this is hard to think about. Because
maybe, what with being in another galaxy and battling alien life-sucking
monsters and missing Mom more than I ever thought I would and
being like, not the only woman in the marine outfit but
pretty much... What with all that, it was just a nice sort of
thing to have a little, only a very little, a teensy weensy crush
on Dr Carson Beckett.
So what is hard is this: the disappointment.
Maybe wasn't fair on Dr Beckett to have
to sit there and watch McKay make a fool of himself. But couldn't
he have done more? Couldn't he have said something,
There was McKay, basically running into
open fire. I knew McKay was clueless but I didn't think, I didn't
want to admit, that Dr Beckett was clueless. When we all
sat around and nobody said a word. I mean, geez, at least McKay
tried to make conversation. But Dr Beckett, and for that
matter, Katie Brown, too: they just sat there like stunned mullets.
He was, after all, supposed to be there
to be helping his friend. Not stealing his friend's
date! And did he do any helping, actually and for that matter?
I don't remember anything particularly helpful. I don't remember
him doing anything at all! It was McKay who was doing all the
doing! Telling Katie Brown that she was funny! That she was smart!
Toasting the salad, for chrissake! That's what he was doing, toasting
the fucking salad, and he doesn't even like salad, he can't stand
the stuff. That little clenched moment when he first spotted the
huge bowl of greenery but then he just bravely plunged in; that
was like saying, hey, see, I'm making an effort here, is anybody
I've got a splitting headache and a mouth
that's as dry as a shithouse brick.
Come to think of it, a night-time run was
perhaps not the best idea after all. I am hung-over and short
That McKay. He can definitely not hold his
I slow down. On my way back, I come past
Katie Brown's door.
I actually stop and for a second there,
I'm even considering knocking. Maybe apologising.
But no. Dumb. She'll be deep asleep by now.
Except not because what's that sound? That's
the sound of Katie laughing. She's there inside her quarters,
laughing at something in the middle of the night.
And that, that is the sound of someone else
laughing along with her, someone else who's a man.
O my god. I am so stupid.
"Up late, sir?" someone says,
and I stare, and I don't even know who it is, some kid who was
in training with me ages ago.
I stumble down the corridor. Half-way across
the north-south bridge, I sink down and have a rest for a bit,
just sitting there, waiting for the nausea to pass. Nobody's around
up here; the yellow lights on the pillars go blink, blink,
there's a hum from behind one of the doors, it's getting louder
and louder, it's inside my head.
Nausea. Pins and needles. And now I've got
the shakes because there's numbers in my head, long strings of
them. They float around and they arrange themselves in columns,
some of them look wrong, some of them look beautiful, I want to
But no. No.
That'd wake him up.
In front of his door, I panic. The door
is closed, it's locked, and there's no manual override, I let
it fall shut behind me, now what? Now? What?
Just. I close my eyes. Focus. Focus. If
I think about it hard enough and in a certain way, in a sort of
slanted way, I can do this, I can open this door.
Open. In. Lights out. Lie down.
The bed's cold now, and this is incredibly
I can't believe it, I can't believe it.
Katie Brown! Why would she do such a thing? Who'd invite one man
round, and then end up with another one? What is with that?
And Dr Beckett! All this about how I'm such a lovely lady... yeah,
there's another one who goes on about ladies, oh, fuck
the lot of them.
And come to think of it, how the hell do
I know he hates salad? Only the pasta kind, that's the only kind
of salad he can stand, but not anything green and leafy. Rabbit
But I know it. I remember it. I remember
saying, 'Rabbit food', and spitting out some bitter leaves that
I was fed by villagers off-world, I remember always choosing the
non-salad option in the school cafeteria, I remember a cute little
girl with dimples and short hair, I remember having a hard-on
for her, just like the hard-on I had earlier, and having to hide
it because I didn't want her to know, how embarrassing was that.
Oh god, and the numbers keep going round
and round in my head.
The pillow is wet, and it's wet with my
own sweat. Our sweat.
We're lurching into the mess hall, with
gums like mould and bones that feel like they've been drowned
in acid. Coffee, coffee, where is that coffee?
He drinks down one mug, just standing by
the machine. After the second refill, I'm starting to feel vaguely
He's not looking round the room but I can
tell, out of the corners of his eyes, that Dr Beckett and Katie
Brown are nowhere to be seen.
I want to be sick; instead, I have to eat
a cream donut. How disgusting is that?
But I'm keeping my trap shut. I just put
up with it. The coffee feels good, anyway; and good that we're
having another mugful.
The thing about being stuck in somebody's
body: you can't get away.
You can't stomp off. You can't shout and
scream and then bang down the phone. You can't even say, 'Let's
talk about this later', and go and do the laundry or something.
What you do is, you scream and shout, and
then you seethe, and then you just have to get on with it.
Also, it's getting kind of lonely in here.
"Yes," he suddenly says, and I'm
a bit startled because he hasn't been saying much at all, he's
been unusually silent, he's pissed at me, that's what. But now
he's saying something, and he's saying, "The thing about
being stuck in someone's body is that you can't get away."
"The thing about being stuck..."
"No, no, I mean, no kidding. Hang on.
I didn't just say that out aloud, did I?"
"Say what out aloud?" He's talking
through the donut so that crumbs spatter on the plastic tray and
that's kind of gross but I don't say anything, I don't say a word,
I'm too busy freaking out.
After that, I try not to think anything,
in case he reads my mind again, or whatever it was he was doing
back there. I just lay low. I let myself be transported to the
transporters and to, hey, what do you know, to Dr Zelenka's hangar.
And we're being shown some fried mice and some data whizzing past
on a screen top but I'm frightened I'll start understanding all
those columns of numbers so I try to stay numb, I try to think
I almost fall asleep. I'm zoning out, and
then I'm solving the epicanthic square root of 103, and see? It's
not correlated to the erroneous Sanchez Theorem, you have
got that all wrong, Radek, the looped Lutz is the fallback position
I jerk fully awake.
"What?" says McKay. "What
I stare at the monitor but it's just columns
of numbers again, it means nothing, it's gobbledygook.
I force myself to uncouple. I unfocus my,
well not my eyes, but my sort of inner eyes. And the numbers shift
in front of the outer eyes, and god, they mean something.
They are beautiful numbers, they form beautiful patterns, except
for that one glitch down here, the loop, I told you the loop was
"The loop is not flawed," says
Dr Zelenka. "You are proceeding from alpha beta omega but
I have calibrated the epicanthem from delta; I did this yesterday,
I changed the algorithm."
"You what?" says McKay,
and too right, he what?
All of a sudden, I notice Dr Zelenka's thigh.
We're sitting on stools, next to each other,
quite close really, and there's Dr Zelenka's thigh, right next
to our own leg, I can feel the warmth of his skin through the
It's a bit scary, understanding all these
numbers where I never understood them before. I mean, I'm okay
at math, I'm not bad at all but I never even heard of all these
epi-whatevers before and it's playing around with my brain, that's
what it is. I don't like it. In fact, it terrifies the bejeesus
out of me. Better, much better to notice Dr Zelenka's thigh and
hey, maybe it's about time we did something about this.
I power up my will and I make us put our
hand on Dr Zelenka's thigh.
It's like an electric bolt just shot through
He stops talking, and he stares at the monitor,
not moving, not saying anything. But I can feel all of his insides
shaking, they're all vibrating through his thigh.
McKay's not saying anything, either. That's
because he's desperately trying to snatch our hand away from Dr
Zelenka's thigh. I can feel the tendons popping in our forearm
but I'm not budging, I've got my will on this with an iron grip.
Got to do something, something, everything's been such
crap lately, everything's trapped in crap. And this, this is almost
making me laugh out loud.
"Stop it," McKay mutters through
"Just keep talking," I tell him
inside, "just keep explaining those algorithms."
Heck, they're all wrong, anyway. Everything's
shot all to hell and back again. We can't do this, we can't fix
this, we are screwed.
"Okay, anyway, these configurations
here, they need to be ratified to the power of ten..." And
he's doing it, you've got to hand it to him, he is keeping
on talking, and he is going on about those algorithms.
We're waving our free hand at the screen and blathering on in
double-time, and all the while our other hand is resting on Dr
Zelenka's thigh, and yeah, that's kind of nice. That's a nice
human warmth, sweet somehow, still shaking like anything, and
suddenly I wish that somebody would just come up and give me a
hug and say, 'Hey, it'll be all right, baby, it'll be fine', like
Mom used to do when we were little, my brothers and me; and we'd
get candy, that striped kind, I forget what they are called. We
named them 'zebra food'.
'Cause that's another thing. Nobody hugs
us now. Nobody hugs McKay; nobody touches McKay. Nobody,
except Dr Beckett and that's only in a very clinical way.
How does he stand it?
Dr Zelenka still doesn't say a word, just
sits there so quiet, like one of those mice he keeps doing tests
on. I can't see what his face looks like because we're not moving
our eyes in that direction. Our eyes are trained on the computer
screen and I can't make them go elsewhere, I've got no energy
left. In fact, I'm not even willing our hand to be on Dr Zelenka's
thigh any longer, I've relaxed my iron grip.
But the hand is still there.
Hasn't he noticed that I'm not keeping it
there? Are we too caught up in our numbers?
Dr Zelenka clears his throat.
We take away our hand. It feels warm; we
flex the fingers.
"Look, Radek," we say, "I
really think I need a rest. I'm not quite myself today, I'm...
as it were." We wave our hands in the air and get up from
"Good, yes," says Dr Zelenka,
and his voice sounds all wriggly. "No. You are not yourself.
I understand." And then he just sits there, looking at us,
looking right at us, him, at McKay. I've got no idea what's
going through his head, maybe he's waiting for him to do something
else, maybe he's hoping for an invitation to come along to the
rest with him. But no, no, no, we are not going there.
"Yes," we say. "Right. Rest
it is, then."
But it isn't, really. Because it's lunch
Saturday, lunch time
We're in the mess hall. We've had our lunch.
We chose a sort of macaroni and cheese gloop. I thought about
going for the salad, I really did; I always have the salad but
no, we don't like salad, so, okay, let's not have salad, fine.
We can have the cheesy gloop. And yes, we can have a dessert after,
what do I care, hell in a hand basket, chocolate pudding, whatever.
"What is up with you today?" he
says, in between one spoon of chocolate glop and the next. "At
the best of times, you're enough to drive a man to drink, but
this morning you have been positively jittery."
"Nothing is up! What should
"I can feel you jittering around in
my head; I really wish you wouldn't. And that little stunt you
pulled in the labs before..."
"Coffee!" I yell brightly. "Why
don't we get more coffee, huh?"
It's when we're at the coffee machine for
our second after-dessert mug that I see them.
Over on the far side, by the full-length
windows, the ones with an ocean view, the ones the girls jokingly
call 'the romantic tables'. At a small table all by themselves.
At a very small, very romantic table.
And what the...
"Hey! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, McKay,
where do you think we're going?"
"Can't see? That's Dr Brown! And Carson.
I'm going to go over and..."
"Yeah, I can see who it is.
And no, we are not going over there. Stop."
We don't stop. We've got our mug gripped
tight in our hand and our legs are just marching on over there,
what a fucking nightmare, no, we are not doing this. I
squeeze my brain into twists, I scrunch it all up and I throw
all my energy into stopping us but he's got energy, too; he has
this figured out, too; he's worked it out, how to take over and
how to block me out, and shit.
They're not looking, are they?
I power up my last reserves and I zap him
one so that we come to a standstill just outside the ladies' bathroom.
He's pressing his lips together and he's
muttering stuff under his breath, I can't hear what, I'm straining
to stop us from moving on. He's tugging one way, I'm tugging the
other, we must look ridiculous, I don't care, just do not move,
McKay. But he yanks me again in the direction of the windows,
so I yank back, the mug tips sideways and great, coffee pours
all over the place, all over our pants, and fucking hell shit
We're against the wall. We groan with pain.
We clutch our balls. They are fucking fire balls.
"Cadman," he gasps. "I swear
when you are back in your own body, if ever, I swear I'm going
"What? What?" It's hard to talk
what with having to take huge gulping breaths and the tears springing
out of our eyes, and what with the red-hot pokers mashing our
balls into a pulp. He gets up, we stumble into the ladies-- "We
can't go in here." "Yes, we can, I can."
--, we turn on the faucet and splash cold water on our groin.
"Of all the stupid, idiotic things
to do," pants McKay.
I am willing to concede this. "But
you wouldn't stop! What else could I do to make you stop?"
"Why should I stop? I'm telling you
that we need to go and talk to them. I need to talk to Dr Brown,
I need to apologise."
"No, no, don't you get it? Don't you
get what they did behind our backs? They're at that table, and
they're at that table together. Those are the 'romantic
tables', everyone knows that."
"Don't be absurd. I worked up to this
date for ages, well for quite a while, and I'm not going to have
you spoil the good understanding I had with Dr Brown because of
some childish whim of yours. I have got to explain to Dr Brown
that I was not in full command of my faculties last night. And
with Carson watching, too. In case this subtle point had escaped
you, it was painfully embarrassing. They need to know that
I was not exactly compos mentis, they need to know that
I was hijacked..."
"Yeah, that's right. Blame it all on
me! And what, exactly, are you going to blame on me? That I got
you to give her the greatest kiss of her life?"
"I'm getting very tired of your tedious
mockery. Things were going perfectly well before you decided to
butt in! Before you started nagging at me like some bossy fishwife!"
Just then someone comes in, it's that science
woman, the one with the huge glasses. She looks a bit shocked
to see us in here, "good day, Dr McKay", and he goes,
"oh, uh", and we glare at her, and hell, when we're
McKay we're good at glaring, so good that she turns right
round and heads out the door again.
"Listen," I say quickly, "this
is not a whim. I heard them."
"What are you talking about?"
I squirm. If it's possible to squirm without
a body. My mind squirms. "Last night," I say,
"I went running. While you were asleep."
"Oh, you did not," he groans.
"Not that it surprises me. Nothing surprises me any longer.
No wonder I felt as if I'd been stretched on the rack this morning.
This is playing havoc with my skeletal structure."
"And I went past Katie Brown's door,"
I forge on.
"What? No, no, no, don't tell me you
talked to her or anything stupid. Please, don't tell me that."
"I didn't. I didn't talk to her. But
I heard them."
And then it's just all too much. I curl
right up and I plonk myself down inside our head and I'm not moving,
I'm not doing anything, thank you very much, I just want to stay
curled up and suck on some zebra food.
It's pulling our face out of shape. It's
pulling the muscles into all sorts of angry directions, the eyebrows
into a frown, and the mouth all big and quivering, and me in the
middle trying to stop myself from blubbing like a huge baby, shit,
how stupid this all is.
"Stop it!" he hisses and does
that thing, and our face is his own again.
"Okay," I say, "okay, okay.
It's just that, that, that I was kind of fond of, sort of, I kind
of really liked..."
"Yes, well, it wasn't exactly rocket
science, figuring that part out."
"Rocket science? But rocket science
is the one thing that you're good at. How did you notice this?"
"I am not stupid. And you are
inside me, remember? You invited Carson along; my pulse rate kept
shooting up into the unhealthy range whenever Carson was mentioned
or whenever we went along for a medical, and then last night,
when we were at dinner with Carson, well, I... let's just say
it could hardly remain hidden from my own body that certain persons
were getting rather besides themselves."
"What are you talking about?"
What is he talking about?
"And yes, now that you mention it,
I can see how they would... I can see how those two would get
together after we left. We were quite the spectacle, after all.
Gave them something to talk about."
"Yeah, right. That's what they were
doing all night. Talking." And that is coming out
more bitter than I intended, I didn't even realise I was feeling
this bitter but apparently I am. I want to curl up and cry. Everything's
such a mess.
"Oh," he says. And then again,
Then we're both silent.
The door's going hiss. Before anybody
can come in and see us, we're in one of the stalls, bang,
and shoving the bolt home. We sink down onto the toilet seat.
We put our head in our hands.
There's really not much to say.
Whoever's out there in the bathroom is taking
their sweet time about it. Endless shufflings and rustlings in
the stall next door, and endless flushings, and then endless uses
of that ass-cleaning hose thing, and then the whining of that
blow-dryer thing inside the toilet bowl, and if that's not enough,
the faucet is then left running for like, years, and then
the hand-drying machine, and then who knows what, all sorts of
fiddling around with her purse and the clack of something, make-up,
a mirror. Finally, she's out of the room, and it's just us again.
I brace myself because he is so going to
be yelling at me and what can I say? Yeah, thank you, I know,
I practically threw them into each other's arms! Yeah, I ruined
your date and made her run away with someone else! And that little
bimbo, didn't bat an eyelid, just ditched you. I thought us girls
were supposed to stick together; how could she do this
Except, oh yeah, she didn't even know I
had any interest in Dr Beckett. And she didn't know, either, that
it was me with everyone in the room last night. She was so totally
not clued in. But to go kissing one guy and then to go and have
sex with the next best... It makes me want to fucking explode.
"Calm down," he says. "For
goodness' sake, pull yourself together. And don't be such a girl.
You're making my head hurt."
"This is head-hurting territory."
"Look, I'm sure they were just... you
know, just talking or something."
Is he trying to make me feel better or does
he actually believe his own bullshit?
"Talking!" I burst out. "Who
are you kidding? You don't think they were doing it?"
"Well, all right. If you must put it
so crudely. Yes, actually. I do think they were 'doing' it. But
then, if things had gone my way, I would have been 'doing'
"How could she do this to me?"
I yell. "How could she do this to you? Who'd make
a date with one guy and then go and screw another guy within minutes?
I thought she was supposed to like you! You ate her salad!"
"Well, I can hardly say I am happy
about this but, after all, it's only sex."
"It's not as if it matters. What is
it with you women? If it had been me in Carson's place, I'm sure
I would have done just the same. "
"Oh, now who's kidding who?"
"I would! I may well have. I could
certainly have been tempted. She was, after all, if you care to
recall, abandoned by me. I as good as left her there for Carson."
I don't believe a word he's saying. It's
all a load of bull crap. I bet he's as cut up about this as I
am. And what he's saying is just spinning the bull, that's what
it is. But somehow that's not so bad, it doesn't make me feel
so bad, he's not all that pissed at me, after all, and he's trying
to make us feel better, I can see that he is, it's a bit like
And what does that Katie Brown see in Dr
Beckett, anyway? I mean, talk about fickle or what.
So McKay likes to shave in the afternoons.
"Why don't you shave in the morning?"
I ask. "Like normal people?"
"What would you know about it?"
he says, with our left cheek puffed out and the razor hovering.
"And while you're at it, could you
shave your pits as well, and your legs? I'm sick of having these
"I often don't shave in the mornings,"
he says, somewhat haughtily, "because I need to get my--
I beg your pardon? No, I am not going to shave my legs!"
He's so easy to get riled up; it's like
pressing buttons. I want to laugh so I do. He's not prepared for
that, and he yells, "Ow", and we've cut our skin. He
curses and swears. You'd think he'd sawn through his jugular,
but it's only a tiny nick; we can barely feel it.
And in between my laughing and his swearing,
I have to laugh even more because that's weird, right, one minute
'Ow', and the next 'Hahaha'. It's a bit hysterical, this laughing,
I can tell it is but I can't stop, I'm jittering around in our
"You're not still upset about that
Carson business, are you?" he says. That takes me
by surprise, and I stop laughing.
"No," I lie. "Me? Not at
"Good. Good, good." There's a
pause. "He told me you were lovely, you know. And whatnot."
"Yeah, well. I bet he says that to
all the girls, right?"
"Oh, don't be so... She doesn't mean
anything to him!"
"If that's what you want to believe."
"She was just... there. It was
"A guy thing? Are you telling me it
was just some sort of guy thing, is that it?"
"Yes, that's it. Whatever you want
to call it."
"Dr Zelenka has a crush on you,"
I blurt out.
"He does. I saw it."
"How can you see that? It's absolute
nonsense." And now he's laughing. He actually bursts out
in a short, rough laugh, and that feels... new.
"It's true," I say. "I saw
him look at you."
"Dr Zelenka is an esteemed colleague,"
he says primly. "And a complete dunderhead when it comes
to trigonometric hyper-calculus, of course."
"I'm worried that I'm actually starting
to understand what you just said, and don't you think he's at
He literally snorts. "Attractive? Zelenka?
Cadman, he is a man."
"So? You're a man."
"Yes, I know I'm a man. Sort
of, anyway. These days. Half of one." He cracks a wry smile.
"You know," I say, "that
Katie Brown made the stupidest choice of her life last night."
"Well," he says. We can feel our
Adam's apple go up and down, that's one big swallow. "That's
very kind of you to say so. Carson, too. Carson too made a very
"For Dr Beckett," I say, "there
wasn't really anything to choose. It's not like I'm around
for any quickies or anything."
"Ah, Cadman," he sighs. We lean
against the basin and then we look up and there is the mirror.
I'm still startled every time I see the
mirror. Luckily, and that's one thing you've got to say for McKay,
he's not a vain man so he doesn't stare into mirrors an awful
lot but he does for shaving, and here I am.
Fucking creepy, that's what it is.
I want to shut my eyes but he won't let
"Will you please start behaving inside
here?" he says, and it's a bit frightening to hear him because
he's not shouting but sort of weary-sounding. "It's sometimes
and somewhat problematic how you behave with my body."
"Well, it's problematic for me, too!
I'm not used to being trapped in other people's bodies, in other
men's bodies. I wasn't given an instruction manual for
this kind of thing, you know. And yeah, I can see how it's a bit
of a bummer for you but you've got a body!"
We put our head in our hands. "I don't
know," he says. "I don't even know if I'm me
So yeah. This is weird.
I'm asleep. Pretending, that is. I'm not
really asleep. I'm just kind of giving McKay a break.
He's not asleep. He's just laying there,
real quiet. We're on our back, and that's good because that habit
of falling onto his bed face-down, that is a really irritating
habit. We're in his room again, and that mattress does feel kind
of good against our back; it must be because of our special skeletal
I can tell that he's waiting for me to drop
So I curl up quiet, like a mouse inside
my own head.
He's moving his hand aimlessly across our
chest. I can feel the hairs around my nipples, and the softer
bits of skin underneath his ribs. Being so silent, I almost think
I can feel his thoughts, pressing up against my own. Almost but
He's still moving his hand, he's circling
it around, like he's waiting for me to do something.
I do nothing.
He puts his hand into our pyjama pants.
"Whoa," I say.
He snatches the hand away, like he's touched
a piece of burning toast.
"God damnit, Cadman," he
We're breathing heavily. And yeah, our cheeks
are hot, we must be flushing.
He's put his palm across our eyelids.
"Okay," I say, still breathless.
"Don't mind me. Just go on. Go on."
"I will not go on," he
says. "This is intolerable. This is hell."
"There's no, you know, no need to be
repressed about it. This might be just the thing we need, it might
be just the thing to... to relax a little."
"We? Did you say we?
Cadman, there is no we here. And this is not about being
repressed, thank you. This is about just having a little bit of
privacy every now and again, a little bit of human dignity, but
you wouldn't understand that, would you? No, you just barge in
and trample across whatever you find, you have no--"
"Do you really think there is no we?"
I'm whispering now, I don't know why. "Don't
you feel it, too?"
"What? Feel what? What are you talking
But then he shuts up.
We stare at the ceiling, dark, with patterns
of wavy green where the ocean reflects through the small round
window next to his bed.
Then we close our eyes.
He hasn't answered me, really, but I know
he knows what I'm talking about. He knows because I can feel it
behind his eyelids. You'd never be able to tell if it wasn't happening
inside your own eyes.
I haven't been with a man crying, I can't
remember in how long.
Not since Dad. That last time in the hospital.
"It's not because of the pain, Laurie," Dad said. "It's
because I can't control anything anymore. Look, I can't even lift
my own hand. It's like I've lost my body even though I'm still
in it. Like I've lost myself." The tears just trickled out
in two long lines; he couldn't even blink by that stage.
I'm crying too, now. I just don't know what
"Yesterday," he says, and I wish
I could see what he looks like but I can't; I can feel it, though,
I can feel his mouth in my face, and his heavy tongue, "I
tried to calculate the ergonometric radiation equation squared
by the multiple of probability factors times twelve. Twelve for
the Wraith dart's manoeuvrability, you understand, Zelenka thinks
it ought to be twenty-four but that's nonsense, of course it ought
to be twelve..." He takes a deep breath. Air flows into our
lungs. "And anyway, I couldn't remember how to finish it
off. I knew it was Gyga's formula but I couldn't put it together,
do you understand? Instead..."
He falls silent.
"What?" I say. I say it out loud.
Our voice sounds choked up.
"I remembered what it was like being
We rub our eyes. "I had this sensation
of having..." He shrugs our shoulders angrily. "Of having
a vagina, if you must know."
"Yes. Exactly." We take our hands
away and stare up at the ceiling. We groan. "This is obviously
not my memory. It is obviously yours, and there must be stray
brainwave contamination going on. I was hoping it was a one-off
but if it's happening to you at all, I don't know if it is, then
it's not... It's not..."
"It's not looking good," I finish.
We're both silent after that. One tear clings
to our left eye lashes.
We blink. The tear rolls down our cheek.
One of us, I don't know who, pokes out our
tongue and catches the drop as it slides past the lips.
One of us lifts our left hand and smoothes
it along the lower lip, smearing salt into our mouth.
"Listen," I say, in Rodney's hoarse
voice. "Can we... you know?"
We shake our head.
"I'm sorry about earlier," I add.
"It wasn't, I wasn't. It was surprise. I guess I never thought
about you in that way, doing that. You know."
"Oh, thanks." There's actually
a little quirk at the edge of our compressed lips now, and that
feels not too bad. "That is highly flattering."
"Although I might have guessed, when
we were doing the kiss. You know. It was hot. It was a hot kiss."
"Well, it was your kiss."
"She liked it. Couldn't you tell? She
really liked it, I'm sure of it. You liked it. I liked it."
"Excuse me, I already told you."
Trying to sound annoyed but it's not convincing, our breath is
so ragged. "I did not like it."
"You had a hard-on."
"Haven't we..." Deep breath. "...gone
over this? Do we have to talk about... anatomy?"
"We had a hard-on," I whisper.
The night is so soft, and the room is so
dark. The waves are making patterns on the ceiling.
We're remembering the feel of Katie Brown's
How they pressed against our flat, hard
chest. How they were crushed against our chest. Her little
round tits, and we were wearing only that shirt, and she was wearing
only that top, and we could feel her pert little nipples like
raisins against our ribs.
We close our eyes. We sink into the bed.
We don't say a word.
Like we don't need to.
And now something happens.
We hold our breath in tandem.
on the tip of our tongue but I swallow that word. I swallow everything.
I pretend I'm not there, and in a way I'm not there.
It's a big swelling sensation, and there's
a tightness in our balls, just underneath where they join the
dick, a sort of pulling sensation, and oh, it's gorgeous. The
pyjama stretches, the dick nudges the fabric, and me, I can feel
Very slowly, we spread our legs a bit. Very
slowly, we breathe. It pulses between our legs, hot and urgent,
and so hard. So tight. The balls, these things that
usually just wobble around and don't do anything much, all of
a sudden, they're like two hard nuts, screwed tight. And our dick,
it rubs against our belly, I haven't felt it like that before,
pointing up; it's so warm against our skin. Or no, I have felt
it a hundred times, it's like the oldest, most familiar sensation.
And our hands, creeping, creeping, eyes
closed, pretending we're asleep.
I will them, come on. Further down, they creep, our hands,
both of them. And then the right one touches flesh. I can feel
that both in my palm and in my dick, unbelievable, smooth and
I haven't felt our dick like this. I haven't
touched our hard-on. It's not too big, not too small, it's
got a vein down the outside, we trace that vein with our index
finger, and our whole hand is firmly around the rest of the dick
now, firmly grasping, holding it just so.
And it's so surprising, and so, so...
That we moan. We can't help it.
Or maybe it's just me. Maybe that was just
me who moaned.
Because the hand stops. We lie very still
on the bed. Our breath goes in through our mouth, and out of our
"You know," I whisper, and there's
sweat on our forehead, "Katie's got really pretty breasts.
I've seen them."
"I don't," he says, in a voice
that just barely manages to get past our teeth, "I really
don't think you should tell me about that."
Don't you remember? I open our memory and
let the image spill through. And I describe it, too:
"They're kind of round and pale, and
they've got little pink nipples. And there's a dip in between
them. And it feels so nice to have breasts, you can't imagine.
They're really soft. They really like being touched."
"Stop," he whispers, "stop.
You don't have to do this. You don't have to show me this. Just...
We lie there for another breathful, then
we keep going. We keep touching, and we keep stroking. Lights
dance on the inside of our eyelids, wavy lights, shimmery lights,
and our mind does slow, lazy flips. We're seeing all kinds of
things, numbers travelling past from left to right against the
shimmery lights, strings of digits, equations hotter than anything.
Another stroke down and another stroke up,
more numbers in whirling formation, and a vision of Katie Brown's
breasts, creamy pink, and then our other hand, down in the crease
where leg and belly meet, pubic hair against our wrist, the thick
thatch of it. Our fingers just reach our balls, they stroke them,
they run their fingernails along the ridges standing out. We haven't
felt those ridges in so long.
"Oh, god." It's his voice but
we can't even tell which one of us said that just now, we're going,
going, almost gone.
There are more numbers, and our eyes are
being squeezed shut, so tight, and then more breasts, Rodney's
hands squeezing the breasts. And that's all going on in our heads,
it must be because I haven't got breasts, have I? I've never squeezed
breasts, I've never had breasts, I've got a dick and two balls
and god, god, god.
The bed is shaking, no, it can't be the
It must be us.
And all that noise, like a gale, that must
be us, too. Breathing. Huffing. Gasping for air.
The sheets are sweaty against our skin.
The pillow has slipped off to one side. Our heartbeat is like
a trampoline, thump thump.
We've got come on the inside of the pyjama
pants. On our hand, too, and sticky in our pubes. A lot of it
came out, it felt like a vat full of the stuff, hot and fast,
and it was shooting out with the force of a fucking Wraith dart.
We've still got our hand around our dick.
Which is limp now. Nice and soft, and fantastic-feeling, really.
And it seems we don't care about the come all over ourselves because
we're not opening our eyes, we're just keeping them shut. Not
squeezed shut, no, just lightly shut, just lightly.
In our sleep, our thoughts nudge each other.
It's like we've been having sex or
something. It's like the morning after. Except he can't kick me
out of his bed, and I can't say, 'well, it's been good, see ya',
and nobody needs to go away and wait for the other one to call.
I'm getting good at the shaving. I'm learning
when to puff out our cheek and when to lift our chin so we can
get at the neck underneath. We rinse the razor under the faucet,
and then we lean on the basin and look at our tired face.
"Hi," I say.
"Hello", he says. His face looks
sort of odd, sort of out of kilter. Oh, I see why: it's a smile.
"Hi, Rodney," I say.
"Well, yes, hello."
And then the face goes back to the way it
always looks. We rub our hands down our face and come to think
of it, it's not so much Dr Zelenka's eyes that look lost. It's
Rodney's, and maybe those were his eyes that were reflecting off
Dr Zelenka's glasses.
It's my eyes that look lost. Our eyes.
"One thing," he says and lifts
And, "yeah, yeah," I agree. Like
I would. Like I would ever tell anybody.
"Hang on," he says. "How
did you know what I was going to say?"
"What were you going to say?"
"About not telling anybody."
"It's kind of obvious. I was just going
to ask you the same, if you want to know."
"How do you know that it was really
you who wanted to ask that and not you catching my own thought
and beaming it back at me?"
I shut up. I stare into our eyes. I try
and find myself in those eyes. You'd think that would be possible,
somewhere in those enlarged pupils. You wouldn't think someone
could stay hidden so well, wouldn't look out now and again.
I try and find Rodney in those eyes.
"But, you know," I say.
And he nods, and he looks at me with these
eyes of ours. I'm starting to see why Dr Zelenka goes all mooshy
over these eyes of ours.
"At this rate," he says, after
a while, after squeezing out toothpaste and brushing all our molars
and incisors, after shaking out the toothbrush and placing it
carefully back in its toothpaste glass, "we soon won't be
needing to talk at all anymore. We'll be well on our way to telepathic
"That would be a pity," I say.
"'Cause, you know. I like hearing our voice."
"Laura", he says, and the basin
grows warm under our hands, we're pressing down so hard.
There's been a breakthrough. Rodney has
come up with something. I knew he would. Something to do
with interfacing a gate crystal with the Wraith machine. We're
in the hangar, and everyone else is there, too: Dr Beckett and
Colonel Sheppard and Dr Weir, and Dr Zelenka, of course. But it's
all so busy, it's all so urgent, action stations and emergency
positions, that I don't get a chance to check up if Dr Zelenka
is still looking. He seems perfectly okay, not put out
at all, he's typing stuff into his laptop and then, yeah, just
before we have to go in, he does look up and into our eyes.
Oh, yeah. He knows a good thing when he
'Cause we might not come back and all. This
might not work.
Though I can't believe it won't. This is
Rodney's idea, after all.
Before I know it, we're looking back at
Dr Zelenka. And then we wink.
Dr Zelenka goes as red as a beetroot.
That wink seemed to be for Dr Zelenka
but yeah, I am sure that wink was actually meant for me.
And now we're standing in front of this
sheet reflector they've rigged up. Everything's tense. It occurs
to me that I never asked Rodney about those people, the ones in
his photo. Everyone's looking at us. I'm trying not to look at
Carson. I'm trying not to think about anything.
I'm thinking, Mom.
And, Dad. Maybe I'll see you real soon,
No, not now. Rodney holds up a finger. What
is he doing?
Oh, no. We're off the platform and we're
walking, no, we're heading towards, no! I tug at our insides
but no chance, this time I can't make him stop, the distance is
too short, we're there already. No, I shout inside our
head, no, what are we doing?! But it's too late, we're
already kissing Carson.
Oh my. Whoa.
No, way beyond. Way beyond double whoa.
We kiss, and we kiss, it feels like we're
kissing for an eternity, like time's been stretched. We grab onto
Carson's shirt, it's wet with our sweat, we've never done anything
like this before, we've never kissed a man, we've kissed dozens
of men, never like this, though. Never like this.
It's not like I'm kissing Carson at all.
It's like I'm kissing Rodney.
It's Rodney's tongue in our mouth. It's
Rodney's lips, moving against our teeth. It's Rodney's little
dry moan, right at the back of our throat, you'd never know it
was there unless you were inside him. It's our little moan, oh.
There's no grunting at all, and no slobbering, and oh, but it's
sweet. I'm weaving in and out of the kiss, hard to tell when it's
me and when it's him and when it's just us, everything's confused.
And in our minds, too, there are numbers on strings and there's
my dad, smiling and saying, 'not long now', and we've got a hard-on,
and we've got a swollen clit, and then we stagger back, and there's
Carson, looking stunned.
We lurch back onto the platform. I put our
hand over our eyes, I'm still reeling. But inside here, somewhere
right at the back of our mind, there's Rodney, grinning like mad
and going, see? See? And then I'm trying not to
grin myself because, after all, it's death we're facing here,
but yeah, and we move our tongue across our teeth in memory, and
into the pocket of our cheeks, and up around the gums, we kiss
in secret, and nobody's grinning now.
And then, zap.
8 March 2006-18 May 2006.
All original parts of this story: ©
url of this page: http://archiveofourown.org/works/68263
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