Written for the Tour of Duty Zine, 2004. Summary: I'm baiting him because it's what I'm good at and I'm thinking it's what he wants. He gets into my space like this, it means he's looking to blow off some steam.
I think maybe sometimes it's just the heat. But it's always hot here. You get used to it. I mean, sometimes it's worse than others. Sometimes it's enough to drive you crazy. But what doesn't here? So I can't really blame it on the heat.
Still, it gets kind of crazy. Confusing. Trying to figure things out. Figure out what's going on. Can't quite do it. I end up feeling like I'm missing something. Just gotta figure out what that something is. I watch him from a distance a lot, as he strides around the base. He never feels my eyes on him. Makes me wonder sometimes if I really am invisible to him. He's so focused all the time. Like he's a million miles away. Doesn't see me even when I'm right in front of him. It never leaves him, that far-away focus. It makes me edgy, and for some reason I just have to knock it out of him. You know? Throw him off balance a little. Because at least then...at least then, he looks at me.
We're in the chopper, heading back to base. Everyone's in one piece. Dirty, tired, maybe, but not much worse for wear. I'm feelin' pretty up, for some reason, and giving Goldman a hard time: music on loud, swooping the chopper down fast as we head in, yelling wisecracks back at the guys and cracking them up. I've got my sunglasses and a grin on as I bring the bird down to the ground with barely a bump. The guys start to pile out and Goldman just sits there, letting them go ahead.
He's leaning back all comfortable, letting his arms rest on his bent knees. He's keeping his eyes on his men getting off the chopper. I take my time, too, shutting the bird down. Finally, I take off my flight helmet and turn to look at him.
"You spending the night, Goldman, or you gonna clear out?" I can't help myself.
He looks at me, shakes his head…and smiles. Levers himself up and off the chopper without a backwards glance.
You really don't see that guy smile very often. Well. I don't, at least. It's kind of weird to see it, and it stops me for a second. Don't know quite what to do about it.
Aw hell, yeah, I do. I follow him off the chopper pad.
I never learn, when it comes right down to it. I think that’s my main problem in life: I just never learn. Keep forging ahead, when I should damn well know better, because...well, because I’m curious. I know it can get annoying, the way I need to prod at every exposed nerve just to see what’ll happen. Some people bring this out in me more than others. Goldman’s a prime example. The more he closes himself off, the more I want to push at those walls till they break. The best part (I guess he might argue this with you) is when I push so much that he just snaps and the walls don’t just fall down, they shatter, kinda spectacularly.
We have had some stellar fights, especially since we moved in together. Some really good ones, and he usually ends up cursing and slamming things and saying a whole lot more than he means to say. See, I think I’m kind of helping here. He thinks he’s protecting himself, keeping those walls up, but look at what comes out when I push hard enough. He needs this, needs me for this, because otherwise the guy would just implode or something, I think.
Also he’s just really, really hot when he’s all riled up.
So I follow him across the base, striding as quick as I can and still not quite catching up to him; he’s moving that fast. I get closer to him as we near our quarters and I can see that at least this isn’t his angry walk, where his back gets all stiff and tense and you can feel the anger coming off of him in waves. No, this is something different. He’s moving fast, but with purpose, not with anger. He slips inside the door of our quarters and I would bet money he knows that by this point I’m close enough behind him that he pretty much lets the door slam shut in my face.
I stop for a second, glaring at the closed door. Why the hell does it feel like I should be asking permission for something? It's my quarters as well as his. We share the same space; why does he make it feel like an intrusion? I pull the door open and go in, I guess kind of matching his pace, his long strides and purposeful walk. Have to pull up short, though, the door slamming shut behind me, as I’m not only sun-blinded, but still wearing my sunglasses. Stand there for a second, waiting for my eyes to adjust. When they do, the first thing I see is Myron stripping off all of his field equipment, his back to me. As usual.
Same as always and again I ask myself, why do I ever expect anything different? I walk over to my bed, toss my flight helmet down. When I turn around, he's behind me. I never heard him crossing the room. But he's real close behind me and I curse, startled.
"Dammit, Goldman, what the hell are you doing? You're the one with the rule about the bullet holes in the floor, remember?"
I'm baiting him because it's what I'm good at and I'm thinking it's what he wants. He gets into my space like this, it means he's looking to blow off some steam. I'm good at fighting with him and if it helps him at the same time, well then, no harm, no foul, right? That smile back on the chopper could have been bait, too, and I can feel my blood warming up as I get ready to fight with him. The guy is good with words and more than good at knocking me down a few pegs every time we fight like this. But I’m better at throwing him off-balance, getting him so riled up he loses the words and can't even express how goddamn annoyed he is with me.
That's when I just need to sit back and let my smile do the rest of the work. For some reason, that smile seems to send him right over the edge every time. Sends him storming out into the night, more times than not. He's got a way with words, but I've got a way with him.
He's in my space, that's for sure, but not looking angry. Just…there. Not smiling this time, either. Just there, in my space, and I gotta admit, it throws me. I don’t know what's going on here. Guess he's changing the rules on me. But never let it be said that John J. McKay can't adjust to a new situation. I draw my chin up, just to be a little taller than him, and take a careful step forward. Getting into his space while he's in my space. This could get complicated.
But hell, he started it.
He just looks at me for a second. "You saying I'm crossing the line here, McKay?"
The look he's giving me is weird, a look I don't know how to read. Can't see past that look, his eyes aren't letting me in. Without thinking, I say softly, "No." Then look at him, as he raises his eyebrow. "I mean, yeah."
He crosses his arms. Smiles again. "You want me to give you some time to think about it?"
I'm at a loss here, and I'm trying to pull together an answer, because he's giving me nothing to work with here, nothing to tell me where this is going, and my blood still feels warm, 'cause I was all ready for a fight and here he goes trying this new tactic. It's thrown me completely off and maybe that was his plan, maybe now is when we're going to fight, when I'm all off-balance and stuff….
That's when he kisses me. I mean, kisses me. Steps forward and never mind in my space, he's right up against me, and he goddamn kisses me. Lips against mine and I'm so confused I just kiss him right back, instinct or something, right, as he, as Goldman puts his hands on my hips real easy and kisses me some more. Not those easy, soft kisses you'd imagine a guy as repressed as he is might give, either. Not nice and sweet, nope. This is…these are…my head is spinning, as he kisses me nasty, kisses me like he means it, like it's not just a kiss he's looking for here, like he's going for it here, and I just…I mean, it's Goldman who's doing this, and I just don't…I just can't…
I yank him closer. Because who knows when he's going to regain his sanity? I really can't afford to let this opportunity pass. Because it's Goldman who's all up against me right now, Goldman with his tongue in my mouth, and not to say that I've been thinking about this, but…
Jesus. Who knew he could kiss like this?
He's pushing me back, pushing me off-balance, and I stumble. Break the kiss. Catch myself against him, and he lets me. Which is maybe weirder than the kissing. But maybe not. I don't know. I don't know anything right now, anything at all. I'm afraid to say anything, because I don't know how this started and I don't know how it will end. But that doesn’t stop my mouth, because hell, anyone who's ever met me will tell you, I sure don't think before I speak.
"Goldman, what the fuck do you think you're doing?"
I think that sometimes my mind isn't even connected to my mouth. Way to go, McKay. Put Goldman on the defense and what happens is, he goes away. Way to fucking go.
His eyes narrow and his mouth twitches into what might be called a smirk on anyone else but him. Then it's gone and the look he gives me is so serious that I get a chill. Literally makes me shiver and how does he do this to me, have me shaking in his arms? I know he feels it, this shudder that goes through me, 'cause his hands tighten on my arms (he's holding me, but I can't quite figure if he's holding me close or holding me away).
He doesn't answer my question. Instead, he smiles a half-smile and says, "You watch me all the time. You know that, McKay?"
I hate that I blush. Hate it. 'Cause yeah, Christ, I know it, I just didn't think he did. Didn’t think he ever noticed much of what I did, unless I was right up in his face when I did it. Pushing at him till he sees me, just to see that flash in his eyes, letting me know that he's watching me, too. Only for a second, really, but it's worth it. Hell, even when the guy's arguing with me, he doesn't really look at me unless I make him. He's always turned away, like he'd rather have a conversation with the desk or the wall than with me.
But now that he's looking at me… Fuck. It's fucking intense to have his eyes on me, really on me, looking at me like he knows it all, knows everything about me. No. That's not it. What that look says is, he's gonna find it all out. Look at me long enough and hard enough that I'll just cave, just open up and let him see it all. Fuck fuck fuck. I'm playing with fire here and I didn’t even know.
"I don't watch you, Goldman." Lying, and he knows it. "I keep an eye on you, make sure you don't fuck up." Way too defensive, McKay. Christ, how does he do this to me?
That doesn’t even get a flash from him. He's still looking way fucking serious. Not angry-frustrated, like when we fight. Just serious. It's freaking me out.
"Zeke's got my back, McKay." He says this really calm, watching to see what I'll do with it.
"I know that, Goldman. Christ!" I do know that. Feels a whole lot like I'm just extra, sometimes. Like I'm in the way. Fuck, you know, I do watch him, all the damn time. So yeah, I see that Anderson's got his back. Got his attention, too. Got his trust. Got his space. You watch them together, and you see it, perfectly fucking clear to anyone with half a brain. They walk together and Anderson brushes up against him, touches his arm, close, close, so damn close. Closer than Goldman allows anybody, ever.
Except right now, that doesn't seem quite true. Because right now, he's against me so close, I can feel his breath against my face. His hands are on me, and mine are on him. And we're fighting, and the words sound right, but the tone here, the tension here, is wrong. He's too calm. And I sound like I don’t have enough air to breathe, let alone fight.
"Yeah?" he asks. "So why are you always watching it?"
Innuendo. From Myron freaking Goldman. I think I stop breathing for a second. "I'm not." I swallow. Breathe. He's still got his hands on me and now he slides them down my back, then further. Fuck innuendo, he's got his hands on my ass. And he's pulling me even closer than before. He's got his lips right up against mine, but pulls back just a little when I lean forward (like I could stop myself) to kiss him again.
He whispers, "You are. You do. All the time."
I falter. I don't know where we are or where this is going or what any of this means. He's got me. Coming and going. I don't know anything, anything at all, and I'm more than willing to admit that, so long as he stops fucking pulling back.
"I don't know." I don't even know if I'm answering him, or just making a statement. But he lets out a sigh of air against my lips like it's the answer he's looking for, and then he's kissing me again, hotly, and his hands are pressing me closer. And I can feel that he's hard, and somewhere, distantly, because it's all too fucking much for my mind to handle, I can feel that I'm hard, too. And I kiss him back and it feels desperate, even to me, and my arms are around him, my hands clutching his shirt. Desperate to keep kissing him. Desperate for him to keep touching me, keep letting me in his space. Desperate for him to not pull back, to not pull away.
Which he does. Of course. Kisses me dizzy and then pulls away slow, lips leaving mine reluctantly, hands slipping off my ass. He takes a step back and I stumble forward this time, trying to follow him. But only a step, then I pull myself up short. Because I may be pushy, but I'm not stupid, and I know you don't get close to Myron unless he lets you. And what he gave me is all he has to give, maybe, so I take a halting step forward, then stop. Awkwardly let my arms fall back to my sides.
I'm trying to get my breathing back to normal. Can still feel the heat of his lips, his hands, his body against mine. He's watching me. Breathing kind of fast himself, and watching me. Looking at me. He's close to me still, but not touching. Like that part's done with and it's a goddamn shame, but suck it up, McKay.
I don't say anything. Smart, for once, or maybe it's just that kissing him has completely short-circuited any connection between my brain and my mouth. Which is a good thing, I think. 'Cause God knows I can't find the words here to tell him what I think. How I needed that. How I need more of that.
He looks me in the eye. The air around us is hot and his lips are wet from kissing me. "I just…" He stops. Looks at me some more, like he's trying to decide something. How far to go. How much to trust. He trusts Anderson. Not me. Not usually. But still. There's something there, between us. Something I don't think either of us understands. He makes his decision; I can see the flicker in his eyes as he does so. "I just get tired of keeping it all at a distance." He raises his chin a little. Belligerent. I like it. "Tired of feeling your eyes on me, and not doing anything about it."
I open my mouth, but there's nothing to say. Again, probably a good thing. There's that flicker there in his eyes again and then he's not looking at me anymore. He's here in front of me, but what we had, the guy I was kissing (be honest, McKay: the guy who was kissing you. You were just along for the ride) is gone. It's Goldman again, and he's tired, dirty, done.
"I'm heading to the shower." He walks away from me, rummaging by his bunk. I'm looking at his back, still can't quite come up with any words. I think about that look in his eyes, how quick he shut down. His back is tense. He knows I’m watching him. But he did what he did, pushed it 'cause he had to, and that's as far as he can go. I want to grab him, push him up against the wall, and show him just how far I'm willing to go. I want to do that so bad that my hands clench into fists as I stop myself.
The door bangs shut behind him as he goes.
I stand there for a second, looking after him.
"See you, Goldman," I say softly. Take a deep breath. Run my hand through my hair. I turn around slowly, trying to figure what to do next. Flip on the tape deck, and give the volume knob a fierce twist. Let the music run loud over me as I sprawl back on my bunk. I close my eyes tight and try not to think too much.
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