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Katie used to be a girl who blushed hotly at the drop of a hat. Another person barely even had to look at her and there she’d be, her mother’s ‘little tomato’.

After one too many encounter that had made her want to sink through the floor she had cried herself to sleep, and the next morning she had gritted her teeth and taught herself to work right through it. From now on, she’d told herself, she would keep right on talking as if her cheeks weren’t flaming red. No longer would she give anyone reason to comment on her flush.

It had worked.

It had taken a while, but it had worked.

The blushing had no longer been as prominent once Katie had entered college, but even then she’d had to occasionally tough it out. Whether it had been giving a speech or talking to a man, who shouldn’t have had the power to engender that strong a reaction, dammit, and she’d be damned if she’d let whichever man it was fluster her more than that – or arguing, or something completely random - ignore, had been her mantra, ignore, ignore, and carry on.

Even now, years later in another galaxy at the height of her career, there were still times when a fellow scientist or, Gods beware, a soldier got treated to the sight of her turning into a solanum lycopersicum. Nothing for it. Katie refused to act coy or be embarrassed just because she happened to be blushing. It was against the expectations she had for herself, regardless of what her interlocutors might or might not in fact be thinking when they saw the color rise up on her face.

She liked to imagine that others respected her more because she didn’t let herself be held back by a biological quirk.

So it was with great surprise that she realized she’d begun letting herself feel the blush whenever the person she was talking to was Dr. McKay. The expedition’s CSO still seemed slightly intimidating to her, but much less so than the first time she’d had to defend her work. It was nice, she thought, if completely unexpected, to be the one to incite a slight stammer and a blush in turn.