Technical Knockout
by Jennifer-Oksana

"McKay! Dr. McKay! RODNEY!" Cadman screams, chasing him down a corridor. The tap-dancing explosives expert strikes again, and Rodney knows he can't outrun her. So he stops and waits for her to catch up. Which she does in like, twenty seconds.

"What? What is it, Lieutenant Cadman?" he asks, wheeling and glaring at her. "Is something going to explode? Do I have a bomb in my ribcage? Oh, God, I have a bomb in my ribcage, don't I?"

The redheaded girl gives him a sardonic look and rolls her eyes. "Yeah, that's totally it," she says dryly.

Rodney wishes that Laura Cadman would go away. Or at least, not make him feel like he is a complete ass every time he's in her presence. Something about her makes him edgy. The fact that she's been inside his head, a place that Rodney has always felt people should see but not like THAT, makes him edgy, but even he knows he acts like an asshole around her.

"Well, if I'm not on the verge of immanent death, what is it?" he asks.

"I wanted to talk to you," Cadman says. "About things."

"What things?" Rodney asks. "Do we have things to talk about?"

Cadman sighs and gestures slightly with her right hand, shaking her head. "You just really hate me for the sharing your body thing, don't you? Never not gonna hate me for that, huh?" she asks, sounding a little sad. "Because I don't hate you, you know. In fact, I like you."

"You like me," Rodney says in the flattest flat voice of sarcastic disbelief that he has. "Golly, that's swell."

"Gee, I wonder why you can't get a date, Rodney," she snaps at him, narrowing her eyes and sneering. "Yes. I like you. I tried to hook you up with my friend Katie, didn't I? Wouldn't that suggest, maybe just a little, that I didn't think you were super-jerk of the universe?"

"Or maybe you were using hooking me up with Katie as a convenient excuse to further your relationship with Dr. Beckett," Rodney replies, not quite sure why he is continuing this ridiculous conversation. Especially when Laura Cadman hears him say this and laughs right in his face.

"Yes, because it wouldn't have been easier to get you alone with Carson without Katie along, Rodney," Cadman says, snorting. "You really live in a paranoid tin-hat fantasyland, don't you? Yeah, my whole life is about reminding you that I've seen your naughty bits and watching you squirm with the deepest of joys."

"Don't you?" Rodney asks. "And just because you're paranoid..."

"Doesn't mean you can ignore everything I've just said," Cadman finishes. "I'm serious. I don't hate you. If there's some way for you and me to maybe work out the awkwardness of me seeing you naked from the inside, I think we could try that if you're game."

He's not game. He doesn't like this woman at all, and he swears to God, Sheppard probably set this up so that the next away mission they're all on, Rodney doesn't pitch a girl-fit.

Rodney reminds himself to breathe. It's not exactly her fault she was trapped inside his body. Okay, it's not her fault at all, but she's just so -- up in his face. And not ashamed at all of what happened.

"Look, I'm sure you're very nice to your mother," he begins, and her face immediately goes pissy. "Hey, if I'd been the one in your body, I bet you'd be just as freaked out by me as I am by you!"

Cadman sighs and leans against the nearest wall, giving him an ugly look. "I told John this wasn't going to work," she says. "You have this whole thing where you can dish it out but you can't take it."

"John? John who? Lt. Colonel Sheppard, you mean, Lieutenant," Rodney says, feeling his world going rapidly askew. "Why did Sheppard tell you to come talk to me?"

"Lots of reasons, but the biggest one is, well, we're kind of going on dates," Cadman says, giving him a look that dares him to say crap about it.

Rodney will take that dare. "Isn't that illegal or something because of your ranks or something?" he asks.

Cadman shrugs. "Probably," she says. "He also thinks I'm a good explosives expert and valuable on away missions, so you're going to have to suck it up and deal, Rodney. I guess John thinks maybe you can do that, and I want to think that, but you keep acting like such a baby."

"I am not acting like a baby!" Rodney says. "Okay, maybe I am, but it's not like I don't have reason. And now you have a boyfriend and..."

"I don't have a boyfriend. There have been like two dates and only one of them was even a real date and damn it, McKay, why do I even bother with you?" she snaps, tossing her head. "You get under my fucking skin, do you know that?"

"Yeah, considering you've been under mine, maybe I do," Rodney says, his voice breaking. "Maybe we should stay away from each other because you know, we bother each other. Or does that not sound like a good plan on planet of the tap-dancing explosives experts?"

"Or maybe it means we're uncomfortable about being attracted to being under each others' skin," she says, and when Rodney makes a face, she laughs. "Well, that's what the shrink says."

Rodney does not like this idea because on an intuitive level, it appeals to him immensely, in a way that reminds him of the extreme relief he gets when he picks at a scab or squeezes a zit. He likes Cadman. It's entirely possible he likes her but can't deal with how screwed up that is.

"Well, you sound like you think it's as ridiculous as it is," McKay says, trying to fold his arms and look like he wants this conversation over, which he kind of does. But he also knows, which the same intuitive leap of a moment before, that all he's said has been goading Cadman, not driving her away.

"Yeah, it's pretty silly, but, you know, part of me thinks maybe it's true, or we wouldn't piss each other off SO MUCH," Cadman says, sounding entirely reasonable, which is almost a disappointment.

Oh God, he likes fighting with her. Oh, shit, that is so bad. "I piss you off that much?"

"Oh, shit, you piss me off like I want to hit you in the mouth," she admits before starting to laugh.

Rodney thinks they could do this forever, talk and squabble, but then of course, real life gets in the way and he does NOT like fighting with her, because that does make him an asshole.

"Dr. McKay, to the control center," a loudspeaker announces.

"Gotta go?" Cadman says.

"The city will probably need saving," Rodney says. "Watch out for Wraith and whatever crisis threatens to destroy us this week. Sheppard would be pissed if you died."

"I'll keep myself alive, then," Cadman replies, waving, turning, and going.

He does not like her. He doesn't, it's just that he respects Sheppard's judgment. And he has a gift for bickering, even when it's with someone he would like to see the backside of -- not like that, Rodney admonishes himself -- and that's right.

Besides, he has work to do, not neurotic self-talk. Even if everyone seems insistent on trying to make him do exactly that.

"Did Lieutenant Cadman talk to you?" Sheppard asks as Rodney heads for Weir's office. "I asked her to."

"Yeah, she chased me down just now," Rodney says, trying to look more pissed than he actually is. "Thanks, by the way, for sending your tap-dancing bomb expert to have an embarrassing conversation in public with me."

Sheppard snickers. "I knew you couldn't outrun her for long," he says. "Besides, you needed to talk to her."

The horrible thing is, Sheppard is right. Rodney McKay isn't going to be able to outrun Laura Cadman for long...and it might not be in the manner Sheppard thinks it means.


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