written for the SG_rarepairings ficathon.
Characters/Pairing: Dusty Mehra/Rodney McKay.
Summary: Steps in the progression of their involvement.
Author’s note: maybe not as much semantics as the prompt asked for, but I like it.
"So anyway," Rodney asked over lunch, just the two of them at the table, "what kind of name is Dusty?"
In lieu of answer, Sgt. Mehra fixed him with a stinkeye.
"Well excuse me!" Dr. McKay said. "I figured it would count for something that I didn't ask when anyone else was around," which was true: the only other occupied table was on the other side of the room entirely.
"There's that," Dusty granted.
"So what kind of a name is Dusty?"
Most guys who ask me that, she thought to herself, would've tried to draw a connection between my name and my complexion. "I don't know, Meredith, you tell me," Dusty said.
Rodney noticed the lack of emphasis on his given name - an emphasis anyone else would've not hesitated to put there; despite that, "I'm going to kill Sheppard," he muttered.
"Need some help?" she offered.
Dusty didn't look up from the bowl of cereal she was presently ripping chunks up to her mouth. "So, what?" Dusty asked.
Anne Teldy didn't raise an eyebrow or scowl at the lack of an answer to her question. "So what was the date like?"
"You and Dr. McKay," Alicia Vega answered. "Yesterday afternoon, if it helps."
"There was no date," Dusty said, spooning another mouthful in to drop the hint to leave it be.
"Radek says otherwise."
"Huh, what?" Teldy asked.
"There's a word, I bet."
Anne grinned. I see what you're doing - deflecting. "A word for a soldier dating a scientist, while that soldier's soldier friend went out for a candlelit dinner with another scientist? Yeah, there probably is a word for that."
"There wasn't a candle," Dusty conceeded.
"But it was a date," Vega asked.
"You're not sure?"
"I didn't get out as much as you and James did." The three of them - Dusty Mehra, Alicia Vega, Vanessa James - had gone through basic training together; Alicia and Vanessa in the same squad, Dusty a bit ahead of them. And the three of them became fast friends.
"That's not an answer," Teldy said.
"We ate," Dusty said. "Then we went to sleep - separately," betting what the next comment would've been.
"McKay fed you?" Vega asked. "That's sweet."
"From what I know of the man," Teldy said to Dusty, "he probably expected you to feed him grapes."
"I ate my food, he ate his," Dusty said. Except for one meatball each. He's got better aim than I expected.
"Don't ever change," they deadpanned.
"Not planning to.”
"I'm not afraid of Sgt. Mehra," Rodney said, trying to focus all of his not inconsiderable attention on just what those little specks in the mashed potatoes were supposed to be.
"Five minutes ago, it was 'Dusty.'"
"I'm still not afraid of her."
"And yet you won't go on another date."
"You've been hanging out with Sheppard too much - dating isn't the come-all and be-all of Western Civilization."
"But it is a perk, I take it?" Ronon asked, mocking.
"Tell you what," Rodney said, an idea hitting him like a baseball bat striking a lightbulb - and thank you, Dusty, for that image. "You don't ask me about my...situation with Sgt. Mehra, and I won't ask about your relationship with Dr. Keller."
"What would you like to know?" Ronon asked.
Damn, foiled again. So, rather than do something which would just get attributed to a petulantness or somesuch, Rodney said nothing.
And it worked for two minutes. Then Ronon asked, "What's wrong with her?”
"Besides the fact she's a trigger-happy near-mute with -" Simplify, he told himself. "She's you with breasts," Rodney said.
Ronon said nothing.
"She's standing right behind me, isn't she?" Crap.
Fully expecting to be struck down and probably restricted to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Rodney turned around slowly, eyes squeezed shut. Not feeling any fists or chairs pounding him into the floor, he opened his eyes - and saw there wasn't anybody behind him.
Ronon was laughing, though.
Sheppard chose that moment to walk in and, re-tying his shoelaces, told her, “I applaud your ingenuity, Sgt. Mehra.”
“Sir?” she asked.
“The hicky you left on McKay.”
“I don’t -”
“Well to be fair, it was only visible when the monster tore Rodney’s shirt off,” and he left the locker room.
And, just as she could feel Rodney’s hands on her shoulders, she woke up. “No way in hell’m I telling Dr Heightmeyer about that,” Dusty resolved.
If that was what filled her dreams after one date, she was a little worried what their second date would result in.
“Director O’Neill will be with you in ten minutes,” the aide said, standing in the doorway. “After the meeting, we can take you where you’d like to go,” and ducked out.
During the wait, Vanessa found a folded note in one pocket. Written in what could only be Dusty’s shorthand - Hasn’t changed since the last time I saw you, Dusty, - she thought, and mentally translated it:
Vanessa sighed. Well, least I’ll get to meet the legend himself, as she stuffed the paper back in her pocket. Last time they’d talked, Dusty had mentioned one Rodney McKay.
“Something good?” Scott asked from the body of somebody named Tolliver.
“Groceries,” James lied.
“That’s me,” he replied up to her.
“You’re supposed to be -”
“Well clearly I’m not there,” Rodney remarked. “I’m here.”
“Question is why.”
“Can you come down here?” Rodney asked. “I’d rather not have this conversation loud enough for just anybody to hear.”
Dusty slowly walked down the broad concrete steps. And stopped five steps from McKay. “Talk.”
“You stopped by my place. Well technically, your friend Lt. James telepresenced by my place.”
Okay, she thought to herself. This either stops this whole thing cold, or moves us forward, having never had faith in her ability to move a relationship forward on her own – a mission, sure; an involvement, never. “And now?”
“Hold on,” Rodney said. “First you should know she showed me that note you left her. I’m touched. Seriously. Nobody’s ever asked for help with dealing with me before. Unless it involved lemons.”
“And she told me to come down here and talk with you.” Actually she told me to pick my backside up and get it in gear to over here. “So I’m talking.”
“So you are.”
“And because I never enjoy talking on an empty stomach, I made reservations for us on my way here. You like McDonalds?” Figure that’ll avoid giving the wrong impression – this is just to talk, after all.
“McDonalds doesn’t do reservations,” Dusty said dryly.
“One does,” Rodney said. “Actually it’s just for me – I have to place all my orders in advance. It’s a long story,” he said in the tone that suggested most people wouldn’t want to be bothered by it.
“I bet.” Dusty came down the last few steps. “Let’s go. And talk,” she told him.