18,000 miles across nowhere land
I'm scratching and I'm spitting
There ain't nobody listening
And things are kind of getting out of hand
Sandra grabbed her cigarettes and a ponytail holder as she ran out of the apartment, her blouse un-buttoned and her boots unzipped. "Shit, shit," she muttered under her breath, trying to zip her boots as she ran down the steps. "Wait! I'm here."
The cabbie was mumbling under his breath as Sandra slid into the backseat, buttoning her blouse now. "McEwen's Pub. Thanks."
"No smoking in the cab," the cabbie said, tapping at a sign by the meter.
Sandra sighed and shoved her cigarettes in her purse. She pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail as she looked out the cab's windows at the drizzly, gray evening. The streets were shiny with rain, but it didn't make the world look refreshed. Chicago was an ugly city, always dirty looking. It made her miss Wilby with its clean streets and small homes.
She looked at her watch, sighing. "Can you hurry? I'm going to be late for work."
"I do my best, lady. I was on time."
Sandra scowled and looked back out the window. If Denny got on her case about being late, she could say she got caught in traffic because of the rain. Or she could just unbutton her blouse a little more and let the girls do the talking.
The cab pulled to a stop in front of the bar, five minutes after Sandra was supposed to punch in. She threw a couple of crumpled bills at the driver and ran into the bar, slipping her way inside and heading straight towards the back.
"You're late, Sandy," Denny said as soon as she stepped into the office. "This is the third time in a week."
"It's raining," Sandra said as she grabbed her punch card and clocked in. "The cab got stuck on 5th."
Denny scowled at her for a moment before shaking his head. "Fine. Get out there. Rod can't handle the crowd himself."
"Rod can't handle two people by himself," Sandra muttered under her breath as she pinned her nametag on. "Do I have time to have a smoke?"
"You can smoke out there," Denny said, making shooing motions at her.
Sandra was already lighting her cigarette as she pushed the door open with her shoulder and made her way over to the bar where a very flustered looking Rod was trying to keep everyone happy. He pushed back his floppy curls and looked at Sandra with relief.
"I thought you were going to leave me here alone," Rod said accusingly. "How do you make a Tequila Sunrise?"
"Oh god," Sandra groaned, looking at the patrons. "Who thought it would be funny to order that?"
One of the regulars slapped the bar, laughing. "Sorry, Sandy. I couldn't help myself."
"You get a beer, Mitch," Sandra said with a laugh, drawing him a beer from the tap. "Don't confuse Rod. His big brain can't remember drinks, only particle physics."
"It's *astro*physics," Rod snapped as he grabbed another mug and drew a beer for another one of the regulars. "I can do particle physics in my sleep and I've never made a Tequila Sunrise before. I'm quite sure that I could figure it out on my own – "
Sandra covered Rod's mouth with her hand. "Of course, love. You're smarter than the rest of us in every possible way. We know that."
Rod licked her hand, causing Sandra to pull it away with a laugh. "You're disgusting, Rod!"
Rod laughed, smiling back at her, his face lighting up and making him look even younger than he was. "That's why you love me, Sandy."
"Sure, kiddo," Sandra said, bumping his shoulder lightly. "That's exactly why I love you."
Sandra hauled the last bag of trash outside and tossed it into the dumpster. It was still drizzling a little and she shivered slightly in the cool air before heading back inside. Rod was cleaning up behind the bar, yawning every few seconds.
"What time do you have class tomorrow?" asked Sandra as she lit another cigarette for herself and one for Rod, handing it over to him.
Rod took it gratefully. "I teach at 10, but I have a meeting with my advisor at 9."
"You got any work you need to do?" asked Sandra, smiling at him as she patted his cheek softly.
Rod smiled back at her, looking so young and tired. "I'm fine, *Mom*."
Sandra laughed and leaned up on her toes to kiss him softly on the lips. "I'm not the Mom type."
"Maybe someday," Rod said with a shrug. "You want a lift home?"
"Now I really *do* love you." Sandra laughed. "Let's finish up here fast. That way you can actually get some sleep before your meeting with your advisor."
Rod scoffed. "I don't need to sleep. I'm 22 and can function on coffee for days."
"I'm not Denny," Sandra said as she took the drawer out of the register and set it on the bar to close it out for the night. "You don't need to lie about your age with me."
Rod straightened his shoulders and puffed out his skinny chest. "I don't look 22 to you?"
Sandra laughed as she counted, her fingers moving fast. "Rodney, darling. You look 16 if you're a day."
"*16*?" Rod sounded dismayed at that, his shoulders slumping. "I'm older than that. And c'mon, don't call me Rodney."
"Rod is very queer," Sandra said a little absently as she shuffled bills around on the counter and banded them together. "Though it does sound better than Rodney."
"I'm only a little queer," Rod mumbled as he swept under the barstools. "Half queer."
Sandra looked up at him, saw the flush of colour on Rod's normally pale cheeks. She said softly, "C'mere for a second, baby."
Rod shuffled over to her, still flushed. Sandra reached up and brushed back his curls so she could see his face before saying, "You got a boyfriend?"
A smile broke across Rod's face as he met Sandra's warm gaze. She could see the relief in his blue eyes as he spoke, "No, but I had one. He was kind of a jerk."
"You don't need to date jerks," Sandra said firmly. "You're better than that."
Rod flushed again. "Thanks, Sandy."
"Leave dating jerks to me," Sandra said before leaning over to peck him lightly on the lips. "You almost done sweeping up?"
"Almost," Rod said as he grabbed the broom again. "I'll be done by the time the you finish putting the cash in the safe."
Sandra gathered up the banded bills and her cigarette, careful of the lit end. She tossed a grin in Rod's direction before heading into the office and kneeling before the safe. Denny kept it unlocked the majority of the time, refusing to give out the combination to his employees because he didn't really trust them. In the last month, Sandra had to take the money home with her three times because the safe was locked.
It was open tonight and Sandra put the money inside, spinning the dial after she shut it. She stayed kneeling on the ground for a moment, feeling very tired. She pulled her hair out of the ponytail, slipping the elastic over her wrist.
"Sandy?" Rod said softly from the doorway. "You okay?"
Sandra turned to look at him, putting on a smile. "I'm just tired. You all done?"
Rod nodded, his mouth set in a tilted line as he studied her. After a moment, he reached out to her, pulling her to her feet. Sandra laughed softly as he pulled her close and then dipped her low to the ground.
Sandra laughed and said, "You are going to sweep some nice boy off his feet someday."
Rod set her back on her feet, smiling. "Like a nice boy is going to put up with me. I'm going to find someone completely annoying just like I am and it'll be cranky, cranky love."
"At least it will be love, darling," Sandra said, stubbing her cigarette out in Denny's ashtray. "That's what matters."
Sandra hummed softly, her eyes half-shut as Rod took the joint from her fingertips. She opened her eyes and looked at him, catching him staring at her tits. She grinned and stretched her arms, pushing her chest out a little more.
"See something you like?" asked Sandra, turning on the couch to face him. She laughed and climbed on his lap, feeling his narrow hips between her legs.
Rod laughed and set her joint aside. "You are so wasted."
"Maybe," Sandra said happily, leaning forward to rest her head on his shoulder. "And you're turned on."
"Fuck, Sandy," Rodney said softly, his hands on her hips. "You're on my lap."
"I thought you were queer," she murmured against his neck, feeling him shiver.
Sandra pulled back slightly to look at him. "Do you think I'm pretty, Rod?"
"Yeah," Rod said softly, reaching up to push her hair back. "You're really pretty, Sandy. I always thought that."
Sandra turned towards his hand, her eyes closing as he touched her face gently, tentatively. "You've been with girls, right?"
Rod huffed. "I'm not a virgin! I'll have you know that many women have experienced the greatness of sex with Rodney McKay. And a few guys. I'm absolutely – "
Sandra covered his mouth with hers, effectively shutting him up. Rod's fingers clenched on her hips and Sandra felt his hips surge up immediately, his dick hard and wanton against her inner thigh.
"Easy," Sandra murmured against his lips before pulling back. She got to her feet and held out a hand to Rod. "Coming?"
Rod closed his eyes, breathing slowly and deeply before reaching out and grasping her hand. Sandra grinned and hauled him to her feet, pressing a finger against his lips before whispering, "Gotta be quiet. My roommate might wake up."
Sandra led him across the small apartment to her bedroom, unbuttoning her blouse along the way. Behind her, Rod whimpered a little as she slipped her blouse off, baring her back to him.
Trembling fingers traced the strap of her bra, brushing against her skin and making her shiver. Sandra shut the door behind them and pressed Rod against the door, kissing him again as his fingers fumbled with her bra.
"Easy," Sandra said again, reaching back to help him and thinking suddenly of Duck MacDonald back home and the way his fingers trembled when he unhooked her bra. She pulled back to look at Rod before unhooking her bra herself. She let it fall on the ground and stood before him in tight jeans and nothing else. "Come to bed."
"Wow," Rod said, staring at her. Sandra walked over to the bed, kneeling on it and gesturing him over. "Yeah. Right. Coming."
Sandra laughed when Rod landed in bed next to her, struggling to get out of his shirt. It was silly and fun and Sandra could almost forgive herself for seducing her coworker, especially when he succeeded in getting his shirt off and grinned up at her, his hair all over the place and his pale, thin chest flushed with arousal.
Rod kissed her again, his hand burying in her long hair. He kissed desperately, his body moving and shifting against hers the whole time. Sandra tried to slow him down, tried to soothe him.
Sandra pulled back, pressing Rod to the bed with one hand. “You need to slow down.”
Sandra laughed and pressed her lips to Rod’s neck, trailing it along the soft skin. Her hands spanned his ribs, touching small tight nipples. He moaned, squirming on the bed again.
“Please,” Rod said quietly, his whole body flushed now. “Sandy, please.”
It was fumbling and awkward as Rod tried to move them together, his hands brushing against her body without any purpose. With gentle hands, Sandra guided him into her, the two of them gasping and panting.
Sandra kissed him when she came and rubbed his back gently after he came. Asleep in bed with her, Rod looked so young, his face lax. She pushed herself up on her elbows to watch him sleep, wondering if just maybe this was something she’d be allowed to keep.
Sandra sat on the floor of the tiny bathroom, her back against the tub and her feet resting against the bottom of the toilet as she stared unhappily at the pregnancy test. This was the third one she'd taken, second brand she'd tried and the results hadn't changed. She was pregnant.
With a huff, Sandra tossed the test into the trash and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. Rod was fun to screw around with, but as a potential father – no way. And there was no way the baby wasn't Rod's. Despite all her jokes about other men, she hadn't been sleeping with anyone but him for the last three months.
"Shit," Sandra said, catching sight of the cheap clock on the bathroom sink. She scrambled to her feet and took a quick look at herself in the mirror. The woman staring back at her looked exhausted, pale, and unrecognizable. She was sure she could tell by looking at herself that she was pregnant. "Shit, shit, shit."
There was a honk outside her window and Sandra pushed it open, hanging her head out. "Be right down!"
Sandra grabbed her purse, shoving a pack of cigarettes and her keys inside of it before she grabbed her sandals and slammed the apartment door shut behind her.
Rod kissed her briefly after she slid into the car, his expression strained. Before she could say anything, Rod pulled away from the curb. "You wouldn't believe the idiots I have to deal with! I swear, the youth of this country gets stupider every year!"
"Rod, you are the youth of this country, only Canadian," Sandra said patiently, reaching for her cigarettes. She pulled one out and started to light it, stopping with the lighter halfway to her mouth. She froze, staring at it for a moment before putting the cigarette back in the pack.
"Believe me, Sandy," Rod said huffily. "I am nothing like them. They're stupid and irresponsible and believe everything written in a textbook is correct."
Sandra looked out the window, rubbing her forehead. "I take it you had a bad day?"
"Supremely." Rod made a sharp turn. "Are you okay?"
"I have a headache," Sandra said quietly. "My day hasn't been that great either."
"What happened? Break a nail?"
"Fuck you," Sandra said, her voice quiet and tired. She looked out the window again and felt like screaming. "It's nothing. We're going to be late for work if you don't hurry."
"Hey, I was on time," Rod said snappishly. "You were the one who wasn't ready when I got there. And I'm always on time or early to work which is why I pick you up so you won't be late."
"You know," Sandra said, punching him in the arm. "You're an asshole. I don't know why I bother with you."
"You can't resist my obvious charms," Rod said, rubbing his arm. "What's with you? I'm asking as a concerned guy here."
"It's nothing serious," Sandra promised him. "And I haven't found a single charm yet, so can't be that."
"You like spending time with a genius who enjoys oral sex and long walks on the beach?"
"You have gotten better at the oral sex," Sandra agreed, relaxing a little. The further they got from the apartment, the less it seemed like the pregnancy tests were real. Maybe, just maybe it would be all forgotten by the time they got to work.
"I'm going on break," Rod said, practically jumping from behind the bar. Sandra just nodded at him and continued to chat with Mitch about his daughter going into the military. Mitch was for it, his wife wasn't.
Sandra watched as Rod hurried across the room, grinning widely at a man who had just come through the door. He was cute, spiky blond hair and a nice smile. She looked back at Mitch, loosing the train of the conversation.
Mitch turned to look at Rod and the way he was ushering the guy to a table, his hand low on his back. Mitch's voice was soft when he spoke, "Aw, Sandy."
"It's not a big deal," Sandra said, her voice hollow. She gave Mitch a tight smile. "He's just a kid."
"Doesn't mean he should have his boy come visit when you're here," said Mitch. "His name is Ray, he's a cop, and he’s married. So you know."
Sandra looked down at the bar, biting her lip. "He comes here often?"
"When you're off."
Sandra shrugged, feeling tears prick at her eyes. Damn hormones. “No biggie. I’m not his mother or anything.”
“Does he know about the baby, Sandy?” Mitch’s voice dropped so it was barely a whisper.
“What?” Sandra stared at him, her eyes wide and scared. “How did you know?”
Mitch reached for his beer, taking a drink before saying, “I got four kids. I can see the signs. Plus you stopped smoking two weeks ago and I haven’t seen you drink at all. Girl your age doesn’t quit smoking and drinking if she’s not pregnant.”
“Maybe I just want to live a clean life,” Sandra said, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand. “Jesus, Mitch. You’re making me cry.”
“You gonna to tell him?”
Sandra looked at Rod laughing with Ray for a long time before answering, “I don’t know. Probably not. I don’t think I can do that to him, take his life away like this. He’s going to be so big someday. He doesn’t need me holding him back.”
Mitch finished his beer and pushed his glass towards her. “Your choice. Can I get another beer?”
“Sure thing,” Sandra said, forcing a real smile. She wiped at her eyes once more with a bar towel before refilling Mitch’s glass. “So what were you saying about Cheri’s plans?”
Mitch took the change of topic in hand and went back to talking about his daughter’s plans. Sandra let her mind drift and found herself thinking about Wilby for some reason, about how many people back home wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that she was pregnant. Most of them would probably be surprised she didn’t have a child before now.
Sandra wiped off the top of the bar as Mitch talked, nodding at the right places. Rod was leaning close to Ray, his hand on Ray’s arm as they talked. Sandra knew, just from the way Rod was looking at Ray, that she never had a chance.
Rod was scrubbing a patch of spilled beer and vomit, keeping up a running commentary on how someday he’d be able to delegate things like this to stupider underlings. After all that’s what research assistants were for, at least according to his own advisor.
Sandra sat on one of the stools and watched him, sipping a small carton of milk. He paused in his monologue and looked at her for a moment.
“You look different, Sandy.”
Sandra shrugged a little. “So this cop, Ray? He’s married, baby. Is that really the best thing for you?”
Rod flushed deeply. “Who told?”
“Mitch did. Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Sandra softly, trying not to sound accusing even though she really wanted to scream at him. Didn’t he know that she cared? That she was enjoying what they had together? “You could have.”
“I didn’t know how to,” Rod said, getting up off his knees. “I mean, we were having fun.”
Sandra held her hand out to him, pulling him over. She brushed back his hair, looking into his bright blue eyes. “You can’t have both.”
Rod nodded a little. “I know.”
Sandra pressed her lips together as his eyes slid away from hers, unable to meet her gaze. She sighed softly and let him go. “Be careful. Married men can be a problem.”
“You would know,” Rod said quietly.
Sandra shook her head and pushed him away not so gently. “Yeah, I would. Just don’t make the same mistake I made. You’re better than me.”
“We’re just different.” Rod knelt down on the ground again, reaching for the scrub brush. “I know what I’m doing.”
Sandra rubbed her stomach lightly, feeling hurt and nauseous at the same time. She watched Rod scrub at the floor, taking in the thin frame and messy hair, the downward tilt of his mouth. She knew she couldn’t have him, couldn’t keep him grounded by telling him he was going to be a father. She could picture the expression on his face, the sheer terror she knew he would be unable to hide.
It was for the best in the end. She’d fought her whole life so far to find happiness. Maybe her happiness would be with a child instead of with Rod.
Rod looked up at her, his head tilted slightly. “Yeah?”
“What’s your mother’s name?”
Rod’s brow furrowed at that. “My mother? Her name’s Emily. Why?”
“I’m just curious,” Sandra said with a small smile. “Emily’s a nice name.”