Title: Polaris, Tangled in His Sheets
Rating: R (because Teyla had a dirty mind)
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowed them for a bit. I promise to put them back like I found them.
Summary: Not everyone understands, but Teyla isn’t much concerned about everyone. She knows what she sees in him.
Word Count: 4108
Author’s Notes: Dedicated to purple_cube in honor of her birthday. Her fics have given me much pleasure and I thought it was time for a little payback. Plus, I’ve been meaning to write these two for AGES.
A special thank you to mynuet for the quickie beta/armchair therapy reassurance that I can still string words together in interesting and meaningful ways, even when trying out a new pairing.
Teyla watched people come in and out of the commissary, but she didn’t see the one face she was looking for.
It wasn’t like Rodney to be this late, but luckily she wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. Dinner could wait for the time being she decided and went in search of him.
Teyla checked the labs, the logical starting point on any hunt for Rodney, but they said he had been planning to run some diagnostics on the Gate.
She headed for the Gateroom and, sure enough, there he was – hunched over a laptop, arguing with Chuck and Dr. Zelenka.
“Don’t you think if I could just push a button and have it print out a report I –”
Dr. Zelenka noticed her first and called out a greeting. “Teyla, nice to see you.”
Rodney looked up and froze. His eyes flicked to down to the clock on his laptop and he looked horrified. “I am really, really late to meet you, aren’t I?”
He started to stand, but she shook her head with a knowing smile. “Yes, but I didn’t mind coming to find you.”
“Sorry for holding him captive here,” Chuck said with a wry smile, that clearly said they both knew well enough how impossible it was to drag Rodney away when he was in the middle of a project.
“No, no problem. You are obviously busy. Don’t let me interrupt.”
Rodney looked uncertain but she settled herself into a free chair at one of the consoles and motioned for him to continue.
He frowned at the bar working its way across the laptop screen. “It should only be about another fifteen minutes. Sorry…”
She shrugged. “I am in no rush, Rodney – take your time.”
The men returned to their work and she took the opportunity to look around the Gateroom. It was rare to be here and not be in a rush – going offworld, returning from a mission, heading for a briefing or debriefing.
She’d always thought Atlantis’ Gateroom was a lovely room – such expansive and inviting space. The sun was setting and the dying light made the patterns of colored glass in windows glow with an inner fire.
She particularly liked the way the blues and greens looked in this light, radiating life like the green of leaves or a sun-soaked field rather than their usually cool, watery tones.
They had the Gate on for their tests and she watched as, two by two, the dot constellations lit up and went dark, the lights chasing each other around the ring like a snake trying to eat it’s own tail.
So many combinations, so many other worlds out there.
How many had been affected by the Wraith? How many were suffering right now? How many innocent peoples dying?
Morbid, perhaps, but such thoughts were never far from her thoughts and it was, she supposed, her purpose to be mindful of such things.
It had certainly been her duty as a leader, but that wasn’t her role anymore. She wondered sometimes if she’d made the right choice.
Of course, here she was – allied with the best hope the Pegasus galaxy had to defeat the Wraith once and for all and helping them was perhaps merely a different path to serving her people.
Teyla hid a smile as Dr. Zelenka rolled his eyes at some cutting remark from Rodney. “No, you could not replace me with a trained parakeet. Parakeets do not have opposable thumbs.”
“Oh, ha. Your wit astounds me.” Rodney glared and jabbed at the keys of the control board.
She watched him, a scowl lining his face and one corner of his mouth turned down in that uniquely him lopsided frown.
Her teammates had been rather surprised to learn of her involvement with Rodney. She supposed they did not understand the attraction or perhaps they’d assumed she would be find Sheppard or Ronon or even Lorne more to her tastes.
True, there were many handsome men here in Atlantis, but none of them really captured her eye.
Dr. McKay on the other hand…Rodney had always held a strange fascination. He was just so contradictory.
And there was the fact she had known Rodney had at least a passing interest almost from the start.
His eyes wandered from her face a little too often, he held her gaze a little too long. Sometimes she would turn and catch him looking her way. But the surest sign was that his words had not come as easily with her as when the others were present.
It was…flattering, but she hadn’t been quite sure what to make of it.
Still, she hadn’t been leader of her people for nothing. She was a keen observer and she knew people. She could read them with a skill perhaps only surpassed by Dr. Weir.
Then again, on more than one recent occasion Teyla had noticed something involving a certain other resident genius that Dr. Weir seemed to be unaware of.
Or perhaps something she was deliberately not acknowledging.
Teyla paused and considered that. A very interesting thought…
Dr. Zelenka glanced up and noticed her stare. Teyla gave him an embarrassed smile and returned to staring at the Gate.
Pehraps Dr. Weir was employing the same method she herself had used – taking the time to do a little research before adopting a course of action.
In the case of Dr. McKay, the more information she gathered, the more complicated, and interesting, the picture became. The man was a fascinating bundle of contradictions.
He was so secure in his intelligence, but almost endearingly unsure of himself at other times.
He had shown great bravery at times, risking himself for his teammates without hesitation and yet, he was could be…how did Sheppard put it…such a ‘sissy’ about inconsequential matters.
He was cranky and acerbic, but it wasn’t done to mask the deep affection he had for his teammates and some level of respect for the talents of those he worked with. That was obvious to anyone who looked beneath the surface.
Still, none of that was what drew her to him and thinking about those things didn’t make her face feel warm or her pulse to quicken.
It was his attention.
Normally, he had a million thoughts running through his head and he was always distracted, working on solutions to this problem or that, working out new ways to improve their power usage and make Atlantis run smoother.
But every once in a while, he would be there, fully present in their conversations.
Those blue eyes would fix on her and there was a powerful intensity in his not moving, not speaking – just focusing – as if her words were the most important thing in the world.
Of course, just as quickly as it began, the moment would be pass and he would be on to the next challenge or loosing the next sarcastic quip.
Some of his teammates thought he was intentionally mean, but she understood that wasn’t his intent at all. Rodney simply didn’t understand people. He could accomplish the impossible when it came to Atlantis’ systems or some new threat, but casual social interactions with his colleagues were a challenge.
What’s more, he knew he had no skill dealing with people. He didn’t even bother to try and that was sort of refreshing.
She had found that most people carefully manipulated the face they showed to the world, crafting a persona to highlight their strengths and hide their vulnerable points. Those with real skill learned to mask their true selves while reading others, using what they were trying to hide to manipulate them for good or ill.
Teyla had excellent interpersonal skills and she knew it. She played the game well when it was required, though she didn’t enjoy such situations.
But Rodney didn’t – play the game or play it well.
At first she thought he didn’t because he didn’t have the slightest clue how, but as time went on, she realized it was more than that. He didn’t have any interest in learning.
She found his bluntness made dealing with him almost relaxing.
She stifled a laugh.
Relaxing – now there’s a word most people would never associate with Rodney McKay, but she did find him relaxing.
For someone who had spent her life carefully concealing her personal reactions and presenting a impassive face to the world in times both good and bad, the experience of someone who let every feeling – negative or not – just come tumbling out was a nice change.
She could read him without any effort and without worrying about her own responses.
His voice broke into her reverie. “One more test. Maybe another ten minutes? You starving?”
She was sure it had been over twenty minutes already, but she honestly didn’t mind. “I am fine. No rush.”
He returned to his work with only a second glance back at her, just to make sure she was really okay.
She shifted in her seat, tucking one leg beneath her, and let her eyes drift over him – the way his shirt stretched across his shoulders, the dance of his fingers over the keyboard, the way his hair came down to a little point at the base of his neck.
If there were those confused at her interest in Rodney, there were probably still more who were confused at her physical attraction and that was a harder dimension to explain.
True, he was not likely to win any sparring contests. But he was in better shape than it appeared. To her mind, it was just another area where his true nature was concealed by a deceiving outward package.
She had been surprised at the amount of musculature the science team’s uniforms could conceal – which she’d discovered the first time they’d kissed.
She had been subtly encouraging his interest, coaxing him along, much like taming a skittish animal.
She wasn’t sure her hints were working at all until one night as they were returning from a harvest celebration on the mainland. The team had been quiet on the way back – too much good food and wine – and they were all looking forward to their beds.
She had a quite a few gifts from her people – a beautifully woven blanket, some teas and tinctures to replace her stores, and a few new outfits to replace some of the more worn elements of her off-duty wardrobe – as her naming day had passed since their last visit to the mainland.
The team had many questions about the special honors accorded her and she had done her best to explain. Her teammates had a tendency to compare everything to their own Earth customs and they had concluded naming days were like their birthday celebrations. They were similar, though there were some subtle differences.
Naming days were as much about honoring and remembering those one was named for as receiving small tokens from friends and family.
She was named for a woman from their legends – first daughter of a mighty tribe, though one who had a rather tragic life. When her intend was culled, she chose the path of priestess, unable to bear the thought of ever being with another man. It was a sad choice and her initiation was a tearful one. But she came to love that life and was revered as a very wise woman and great leader in her time. Her story was a powerful reminder that there were many paths to service and sometimes the true path was not necessarily the one we would chose for ourselves.
Perhaps she had a little more in common with that Teyla than she cared to consider. How many chances at a family had she passed up? How many sacrifices had she already made? Some days she had felt very keenly the cost of being a leader.
She had been lost in these thoughts as they arrived back at Atlantis and the others were headed for bed before realized just how many gifts she’d received.
She was struggling to balance an armful of jars while gathering the rest and she just didn’t seem to have enough hands.
It was a relief when someone took the blanket from where it was slipping off her shoulder, the long end dragging on the floor and tangling around her feet.
“Oh, thank you. I’m afraid I was about to drop -”
She turned and was surprised to see it was Rodney who had come to her rescue.
He took the carefully folded leather pouches with her new clothes from atop the jars, which had lightened her load considerably and stacked them, along with the blanket, atop a crate of the fresh fruits. “I’ve got these. Lead the way.”
Her tongue was made clumsy by surprise and she spluttered a little as she thanked him, but she managed to start for her quarters, albeit on shaky legs.
The whole trip she resisted the urge to turn and look at him – he followed her rather than walk by her side – and she just wanted a glance, as if she would be able to read his intent if only she could see his face.
They reached her room and she hurried to set the jars down on the bed, her arms aching from the awkward embrace she’d been carrying them in. She turned to take the rest from Rodney and was surprised to see him waiting in the doorway.
It was a surprisingly polite consideration, but one glance at his face said it probably had far more to do with nerves than any social grace.
She motioned for him to come to her.
He advanced slowly, looking around the room in wonder, eyes skittering over her shelves of traditional Athosian objects, the tangle blankets and sheets of her unmade bed, to the hangings on her wall, back to her bed and quickly to the floor. He seemed determined to look anywhere but at her.
Or the bed, which she found very endearing.
She crate from him and set it on the bed, careful not to crush any of the smaller jars. “Thank you again.”
He didn’t respond and she walked with him back to her door but he stopped just beyond the threshold and looked at her, searching for the words. “You should have told us – about your name day thing. We would have done something. Maybe not the things you are used to, but we would have done something…”
She had laughed softly. “It doesn’t matter, Rodney. I was not expecting anything and it was lovely to have you all there with me tonight for the belated celebration of the day.”
He frowned, “Still – you’re part of the team. We would have, I would have done something…”
“I know.” She had patted his arm, smiling. He still looked so earnest and concerned, she had given into a whim and given him a quick kiss. He looked shellshocked as she bid him goodnight, saying, “Your kindness in wanting to do something is gift enough, Rodney.”
She had turned to go when a strong hand caught hold of her arm. She looked from the hand to the man in confusion. Rodney grinned and there was an unfamiliar twinkle in his eyes. “Not fair, you caught me off guard. That? That was a crappy gift and I don’t give crappy gifts.”
He hadn’t released his hold on her arm, as if he were afraid she was going to run away, but he gently pulled her back to him, cupping her face with his other hand and had kissed her.
Really kissed her – a long, unfolding kiss where he’d released his grip on her arm only to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her closer, her own hands running up his chest and across his shoulders. The kiss had gone on and on and left her slightly flushed and breathless.
Her eyes were wide and she searched for a proper response, but he beat her to it.
“Happy Name Day, Teyla.”
And he had left, leaving her staring after him, pondering the lovely feel of his chest under her palms and wondering what else that uniform was hiding.
It shouldn’t have surprised her that after that night, after he already knew the answer, that was when Rodney McKay started courting her.
It wasn’t a standard courtship from what she understood of their traditions, but she found his little gestures touching.
He had snuck into her room while she was sparring with Ronon everyday for two weeks to reprogram the controls of her room lights to a full range of brightness so she could dim them while she meditated.
He found ways to go along on medical trips to the mainland and little surprises - a pot of her favorite stew, a few of the season’s first kaffi fruits she loved, and even a bouquet of wildflowers – found their way to her room.
Her attention returned to the present as Rodney barked out an order at Chuck. “I only have two hands. Go over there and push that button.”
“Which-?” Chuck asked, his hand hovering over a row of buttons on a console near the DHD.
Rodney gave an exasperated sigh. “That one! Just push it – NO! Not that button.You idiot!”
“Me? You said to-”
“I did not.” Rodney looked furious as he knelt to remove the panel covering the DHD’s inner workings. “I did not tell you to push the button that just erased the data from the last 25 addresses we dialed. I TOLD you to push the other button…”
Chuck just shrugged. “Whatever.”
“How eloquent. Whatever. Now we’ll have to reload the data from the crystals and rerun the the whole thing.” Rodney was fiddling with some control or another beneath the DHD – what exactly he was doing Teyla didn’t understand. However, his current position did afford her a lovely view of his backside.
She smiled remembering how she had been trying to speed their courtship along at every turn, but Rodney had stuck to his own timeline.
He might have been patient, but she wasn’t. Such long courtships were for people much younger than them, finding their way down those paths for the first time.
Both of them had had lovers before and she was finding their encounters increasingly frustrating. Her body knew exactly what she wanted and her head and heart agreed.
If it had gone on much longer, she had been planning to just barricade the door to her room on night, forcing him to stay.
Even now, it was still surprising her just how proficient a lover he was.
Again, it was all about that focused attention. He applied the same dedication and thirst for knowledge he brought to this work to her bed, with very satisfactory results.
She had also been surprised at how adventurous he was in bed. There were a number of techniques and positions that translated nicely from her weapons work and he was perfectly willing to push the limits of her flexibility and creativity.
Her mind drifted back to a particularly successful experiment the previous week.
They had been in his room, which was unusual, as they tended to end up in her quarters.
He insisted she had nicer sheets, but she knew he was really embarrassed at the chaotic state his room was usually in.
That night he hadn’t argued – perhaps because she had coyly hinted she’d had a new idea. One involving some of the leather bands she used in training.
After an a very successful test of her idea, she had been trying to catch her breath, eyes closed and feeling utterly stated, enjoying ebbing of the warm tingling through her limbs when she felt his stare.
She opened her eyes to find him watching her, head resting on one crooked arm, a small smile quirking one corner of his mouth.
She shivered at how quickly her tranquility gave way to desire. A low chuckle had escaped her.
She stretched and rolled onto her side to face him. “Nothing. I like it when you look at me like that.”
She reached out and traced along his jawline, pressing her fingers to his lips. His lips parted and he gently bit her fingertips. “Like…Like I am the center, like the world turns around me.”
“Well, it does. At least my world.” From anyone else the words would have seemed maudlin and grated on her nerves. But, as always with Rodney, he didn’t say them because he thought she wanted him to. He said them because he meant it. “You’re the compass star. Polaris descended from on high to get tangled in my sheets.”
It was a word she was unfamiliar with. “Polaris?”
He lay back, wheels turning in his head, and she moved to rest her head on his chest, settling in for the explanation. “It’s an Earth thing. Polaris is a star that appears in the northern sky. Because of it where it is in relation to Earth, it doesn’t appear to rise and set with the change of the season like the other stars and constellations.”
“A long time ago, explorers would use it to plot their courses, steer their ships, because it’s visible anywhere north of the equator and always seemed to stay in the north while the other stars would rotate around it. They could do calculations to determine roughly how far north or south they were.”
“It’s sometimes called the North Star, though more accurately it’s the current North Star. Five thousand years ago, Thuban was the north star and in another 12,000 years Vega will replace it. You know, it’s funny, because actually Polaris isn’t really at true north – it’s a little more than a degree off but I guess when men were wandering around in boats made out of huge trees and wrapping dead animals around them for warmth, it was close enough.”
She snickered and he rewound what he had just said. “Which is both WAY more information than you probably wanted and vaguely insulting to and your people.”
She glanced up to see his abashed look turn to a hopeful smile. “Have I mentioned lately big a fan I am of leatherwork and just how much I love those charming leather outfits of yours?”
“No matter, Rodney. I heard your meaning rather than your words.” She repeated the name, feeling the unfamiliar syllables on her tongue. “Polaris – I like it.”
“And…I like you,” she leaned up to kiss him. “Even if you do often let your tongue lead you before thinking of the consequence.”
He had provided an excellent defense to that comment, one that had her nearly blushing just remembering it.
Or perhaps not nearly, as Dr. Zelenka had glanced her way, noticed her expression and followed her line of sight.
He nudged Rodney and got him to crawl out from under the DHD. “Chuck and I can finish this. You’ve kept Teyla waiting long enough.”
“Are you sure? We still need to recalibrate the-”
Zelenka made shooing motions. “We know – you have it all written right here. Go. We will be fine.”
Chuck nodded, knowing the work would go much easier, if not faster, without Rodney correcting him every two steps. “Totally fine. Go.”
With a shrug, Rodney set down his tools and got to his feet. “I guess just take my laptop back to the lab when you are done.”
He walked over to Teyla, looking like a little boy reluctantly being dragged from his play. “Sorry. You had to have been bored waiting…”
She hooked her arm through his and they started down the stairs. “Not really. It is rarely so quiet around here and it was nice for thinking.”
She gave him a sly look. “That night last week, among other things. Polaris. Your very convincing demonstration…”
He was slowly getting better at reading her and there were a few expressions he rarely misinterpreted. “You know, I’m not that hungry. Don’t you still have some of that herb bread in your room? We could have a snack and get something from the commissary later?”
She nudged his hip with her own. “Just what I was thinking.”
They hurried out of the Gateroom, arms linked and laughing, and Dr. Zelenka watched them go with an amused smile.
“Somehow I do not think they are actually going to dinner…”
“What?” It took Chuck a minute to catch up. “Oh - Ugh. Thanks for that mental image. Now I’m not going to dinner either.”
Dr. Zelenka laughed as Chuck shuddered. “Let’s just get this done.”
“Good plan,” Chuck answered, still looking slightly disturbed.