Summary:Sometimes what you say isn't what you meant to say, but it doesn't mean it's not true. McKayWeir. No specific season.
A/N: You'll probably hate me for what I don't say but hopefully everyone will enjoy it anyway. :D Thanks to Fanwoman for betareading.
He tenses at the memory as he stares at the ceiling. He was trying to forget, to slip into sleep, but here he finds himself unable to. He started wondering as he lay there, in those minutes before you sleep, the time for what-ifs and it half evolved into a debate with himself. Those idle thoughts changed into real worries, real fear over what he'd done.
As he recalls the scene, he finds his heart racing just like it had at the time, the moment where he'd realised what he'd said, the exact words he'd said to her. Because he'd smiled at them for all of four seconds before finding his senses and really thinking them over like he should have done straight off, before he spoke them.
He's not sure what she thought of them. She turned back slightly, head to the side just so with an amused smile, but she does that so often he's hasn't a clue what that means. Did she humour him? Realise even that he didn't mean it like that? Oh, who was he kidding, she was a woman, of course she'd take it like that! It'd be a small miracle that she didn't.
Yet for all his certainty that he'd messed everything up, stuck his foot in his mouth - which wasn't too difficult considering his big mouth – he still didn't know what had actually happened there.
He'd said what he'd said and she'd smiled at him. They were the facts. But right now, nothing added up, you couldn't measure someone's interpretation of something by previous interaction, and he couldn't predict what she thought. In fact, he didn't want to predict, it got him nowhere; he wanted to *know*.
But what could he do? He'd felt sick as soon as he'd understood the possible consequences of it, a feeling only calmed partially by her mysterious reaction. He wanted to take the words back or explain what he'd really meant. Neither of which had he done. One was too insulting to try and the other too foolish, inspiring too much fear that he'd make things worse. Like give away that what he'd said was exactly true, just he'd not meant to say exactly that. Those words that she was only going to understand one thing by. That was the problem, and it wasn't going to go away.
She watches him through the doorway, seeing his blundering attempts to praise someone. That's one of the things she finds strange about him but is fortunate to understand. Sometimes he uses criticism as a compliment. Because if he takes the time to say anything in detail, rather than a passing insult to your intelligence, then he's thought you worthy. Every critical comment slashes at them, but he's trying to improve them, help them, not just make things easier on himself. It's an unorthodox method; she's not sure how effective it is. A year ago, she would have called him brutal and chided him over it, educating him on the effectiveness of positive reinforcement. And she would have been facing a full storm of criticism herself. Not that she couldn't have handled it, but now she realises you can't change everyone, and ultimately Rodney's a good man.
He doesn't tend to be tactful, in fact subtlety is something often lost to him, though he sometimes admits to recognising it from others when it suits his purposes. He says what he thinks, what he intends to – obviously it's not always truth, but she's glad he's not above white lies like the ones that saved her from Kolya, and she forgives him his exaggerating over the bumps and bruises from his missions. The point she's been pondering recently is that last one. He says what he means to, and he tends to mean what he says. Which is what makes her curious about what he'd said to her the other week.
He doesn't take things back. He hasn't said anything more about it. She's not sure if that's usual for him or not. She can read the man pretty well, better than most, yet she doesn't know if his silence means he doesn't care, hasn't given it a second thought or if it's something else. Is he avoiding it? Has he forgotten already? Was it insignificant to him?
She cocks her head, trying to work out what he mumbles as he dismisses the scientist. She doesn't quite catch all the words, but she sees what he does when he thinks he's ignored by everyone. Arms bent over, bracing himself against the desk as he lets out a sigh. For a second, she worries what's had him so down lately, the same Rodney McKay they all know, apart from moments like this where he thinks no one notices. Only she has seen.
Before she knows it, he looks up. She tries to move back, but she's caught.Trying to act natural, she walks up to the door and knocks, asking jokingly if she's interrupting any important staff floggings. He smiles insincerely and makes a vague but sarcastic comment back, as she expects him to. She doesn't try hard to best him, letting him be defensive. She listens instead, trying not to meet his eyes and wondering if maybe she already knows why he's been so resigned. The idea she's not given any credence to.
That maybe he meant every word, and it's up to her to tell him... to tell him whatever it is that needs to be said in reply. She doesn't know what that is, yet, nor what it should be and what she herself will give up. But she gets the feeling the theory she'd let be, the one she hadn't explored, might be the one that uncovers it all. The only reason was in his eyes, widening briefly as he saw her standing there watching him. She'd seen fear, surprise, regret – so many emotions, all hard to identify. Trust him to be so complex. But it was those eyes, an intense blue gaze upon her alone full of hope, surfacing along with everything else.
Maybe he'd meant it, maybe not, but there were ways to find out. And if that meant studying him, gauging his reactions, then she could take her time. She glanced up to see his half confused half antagonised face and smiled. Question was, if she was right, how long before he couldn't take it?