Disclaimer: Stargate belongs to Gekko and… all those other people making money with it. Anyway, I don't. Honestly. So – I don't own, you don't sue. Deal?
Summary: Laura Cadman and Evan Lorne finally have to face the music... non-frat regs, anyone?
A/N: There you go again... promised I wouldn't forget about the regs, didn't I? Although... not already in this chapter. For some reason, they both were a bit reluctant to get it out in the open yet, so they needed a little more time. But don't say I didn't already tell you that this one was going to be character-focused (four chapters, by the way), while I'm trying to think up the plot for the next action-based one. Although at the moment... I'd so very much like to write something fluffy family Earth visit stuff to The Beach Boys' "Kokomo"... ngh.
Anyway, as always: Not a native speaker, so please excuse any weird grammatical constructions, run-ons and typos. Feedback will earn you a cookie, flames will roast my marshmellows.
Protect and Survive IV: Wouldn't hurt to tell the truth
Good bye to your little white lies.
It wouldn't hurt to tell the truth sometimes."
Jennifer Kae, "Little White Lies"
He's prowling the city for his girlfriend, when he suddenly hears female laughter coming out of the hand-to-hand combat room's open door. One of them is very familiar. In fact, it belongs to aforementioned girlfriend gone AWOL. Involuntarily, he has to smile. Hearing Laura laugh always makes him smile. It reminds him of the fact that amidst a still strange galaxy, with war at their doorstep and death waiting around every corner nearly every time they go off-world, he has managed to find someone he always looks forward coming back to or seeing come through the 'Gate alive.
He knows that technically they shouldn't fool around like this, because sooner or later Sheppard will decide to drop the bomb on them, but he just can't bring himself to break up with her. Sometimes it scares him that to him this is anything but a little fling, some aside, but rather something very serious. Laura is the first he wants to see in the morning and the last before falling asleep.
And Laura is the first and sometimes only one he wants to see after a mission gone wrong, after another death. It seems like as long as she is okay, he can bear everything, even making grave mistakes, losing soldier after soldier. If she wasn't there to provide shelter when it's just been too much again, with her quiet acceptance and the ability to know when to shut up and when to talk him senseless… no, he doesn't want to think about Atlantis – his life – without Laura. Instead, he wants to concentrate on her laughter that tells him that no matter what happens outside this city, everything inside it is still okay.
So he positions himself just outside the work-out room to listen to the two women inside – he's recognized the second voice as the one belonging to Teyla Emmagan – and see what they are up to. He knows he shouldn't be eavesdropping, but a little curious streak inside of him always wanted to know what women like Laura and Teyla are talking about when being among themselves.
"You are doing well, Laura." That's Teyla… they were probably doing some work-out together or Teyla was doing some hand-to-hand combat exercise with her. He smirks to himself. So his little Lieutenant is serious about making Captain this year. She doesn't know how close she already is to it, and he'd be damned if he told her. No, he wants to see the surprise on her face when Sheppard provides her with the bars in front of the Atlantis military detachment first hand.
"Thanks. Had a good teacher, though." He can hear the smile in her face, and hopes she means him. But considering that their last sessions have been more of a foreplay than a real exercise he's quite certain she means Teyla.
"You are being too kind. Or do you refer to Major Lorne rather than me?" The tone in Teyla's voice makes it pretty clear that she's good-naturedly teasing Laura with this remark. He can just imagine her coloring deeply for at least a moment or two. Dammit. The whole city knows… He knows he has to go and talk to Sheppard, or Laura might never get her bars after all.
"Nah, it was you. Major Lorne… has been a little too preoccupied the last few weeks to be of any real challenge." Whoa! The little minx! I'll give you challenge, Lieutenant, he thinks. Just you wait. I'll get that smug grin you're most probably wearing wiped off your face in no time.
The two women share a laugh. "I agree to that. I have no idea what is causing him this distraction, though." Of course she has. Teyla isn't blind, and it's very probable that Sheppard has already talked to her about this whole thing. Now, if Laura could just steer her towards revealing how Sheppard thinks about this whole issue…
"Me neither. Maybe he's talked Zelenka into opening the Game Room again." That's just… you could almost think they know that he is listening and are intentionally leading him on. But… no. As strange as women are, they still haven't developed sensors to detect a male lounging around the work-out room, right? On the other hand… this is the Pegasus Galaxy…
The women both burst into very unladylike snorts and then into a fit of giggles. Which prompts a sudden whimpering and gurgling from a corner of the work-out room. Obviously Teyla's brought her son to the training. He's still not gotten used to the thought of Teyla of all people being a mother, even though he'd told her she'd make a great mother. He still thinks it, but… it doesn't change the fact that he'll need a little more time to accommodate himself to seeing her sitting in the cafeteria alone or surrounded by various female crew members, always with the little one in tow.
Even now hearing her making cooing noises to Torren doesn't sit quite right with him. But what really unsettles him is suddenly hearing Laura say: "You know, seeing you with the little one… makes me almost wish for one of my own." An image flashes through his mind… A little girl with Laura's hair and her smile… No. It's only been three months now. No man in his right mind would already be thinking about starting a family.
"Almost?" Oh, he'd really like to know about that as well.
"Yeah, well… it's just… I'm not good with kids. I'm all weird and awkward with them… they make me a little uncomfortable." She sounds genuinely embarrassed about that, and he almost barges in to contrast that statement. He's positive his nephews would just love her.
"Make you uncomfortable? There is nothing uncomfortable about them. But I remember being not sure how to treat them as well. In the end, all you need is some practice… do you want to start now? You can hold Torren." By now he has a fairly good impression of how this is making Laura a little uncomfortable. It's a little funny. She's one of the best explosives specialists in the Corps, and she has worked her way through an impressive amount of cross-training lessons about everything concerning hacking Wraith technology just because she thought it would be fun. She's tough enough to stand her ground even against psychopaths trying to rape her and is starting to make him look bad on the shooting range. And still the thought of having to handle a child makes her uncomfortable.
"I'd rather… I'm afraid to drop him, and I…" Yep, just what he said. She can handle explosives, but is afraid of a kid. It's cute, somehow.
"Oh no, you will not, I trust you in that. Come on, give it a go." Ah, Teyla must have picked that up from Sheppard. Give it another year, he thinks, and she'll start using more of their Earth mannerisms.
"Oh, I… ah, hell. Can't be that hard, if even Rodney can do it." He hears another gurgling, and in the same moment, a couple of scientists come walking along the corridor. They've already spotted him, so there's no way he can continue standing around here and eavesdrop on the girls. Alright, he thinks, best defense is an offense.
Looking as casual as possible, he enters the work-out room, determined to look like he'd just been looking for Laura to finish some report or other, maybe even give her a mild reprimand or something, but when he finally gets to see the girls sitting on the mattresses, with the cradle beside them and the little boy in Laura's arms… his brain ceases to function for a moment.
She's sitting there, still totally unaware of him having entered the room, holding Torren a little awkwardly, but with a disbelieving smile all over her face, and all he can think of is how much he wishes it was their child she was holding. He's never before even thought about actually starting a family with Laura – trying to find a solution to the whole fraternization dilemma has been a little more pressing lately – but right now it's the only thing he can think about.
In the end, it's Teyla who snaps him out of his daze. "Ah, Major… we were just talking about you." He blinks, and now Laura has seen him as well. She tries to look unfazed by his sudden appearance, but he can see that she's a little embarrassed that he's seeing her softer side. Someday, he thinks, he really needs to find a way to tell her that he likes everything about her, the tough Marine as much as the warm-hearted young woman.
"You were? I hope it wasn't the Lieutenant ranting about stupid protective males again." She makes a face and sticks out her tongue at him. God, how much he wants to bend down and kiss her now.
"No, she was not. I think, however, that if she had, she would have been right in certain aspects." Teyla's mouth curls into a frown, and he knows very well what she's alluding to. He still remembers the little scene in the locker room before they'd gone to destroy that massive secret Wraith outpost. He'd actually been mighty relieved when Sheppard had signaled to him to leave the room before he'd gone head to head with Teyla.
"Errr… right. Whatever. But I've been actually… looking for the Lieutenant." That makes Laura clear her throat and Teyla smile knowingly. Jesus Christ, it's really about time they stop their not so secret secretive screwing around.
"What did I do wrong this time, Major?" She really knows which strings she has to pull. The little fake pout and the rolled eyes always make him want to jump her and kiss her senseless.
"If I remember it correctly, you still owe me at least three reports, the confirmation for the leave rotation and a mandatory survival exercise on the mainland. Any idea when I might find them in my in-tray?" He has his arms folded and is rocking on his feet with his eyebrow raised expectantly. It's not even a lie. She's really one survival exercise short, and obviously she still hasn't made her mind up when she wants to go on leave. In fact, he's a little afraid it was his casually tossed out invitation to his parents' house in about four months that has made her hesitate with the leave confirmation.
She clears her throat again and shifts Torren in her arms a little. He seems to have taken a special interest in the ponytail that's lying over one of her shoulders. "All in due time, Major, all in due time." Torren is a little put off, now that she has moved her ponytail out of his reach and starts articulating his disapproval. With a benevolent smile, Teyla takes him back. Laura's arms look strangely empty now, and the thought of the little girl with her hair and her smile just won't leave his head. "As for the survival exercise… you do realize that I had lots of life fire practice recently, right?"
Now she seems a little unnerved for real, and he wants to bend down and kiss her forehead to smooth away the frown. She's right, of course. First the thing with the villagers which got her two weeks in the infirmary, then this mad Lost Boy – he still doesn't know if he really left her untouched or if something worse happened, and he has an inkling that he'll never find it out – then a few babysitter missions gone wrong… it really hasn't been her year so far. "I'll see about that. Depends on how long the paperwork will take you."
But instead of Laura, Teyla answers with a little delicate smile: "Oh, Major, I believe there is a term for this. Blackmail, is it not?" Now, Teyla, that was a low blow, he thinks. It prompts a frown from him and a snort from Laura.
She can barely hold back her laughter, when she turns to Teyla. "Thank you for pointing this out, Teyla. I'm sure, the Major " – now a pointed look for him – "didn't mean it like that, did he?" The look in her eyes promises him a night on the couch… well, alone in his quarters, that is, if he goes on pestering her with the paperwork and the exercise. Alright, so maybe he'll stop here. For today, that is. After all, he's still her commanding officer.
"Not a bit. Now… anyone wanting to accompany me to lunch?" The women look at each other, and it seems to him that some silent exchange is taking place. Good God, are women psychic?
"Well, actually… we were just taking a break between sessions. We weren't finished yet, were we?" Laura looks at Teyla, and again something seems to go on between the two that he fails to understand. One day, he promises himself, he'll ask his sister how women do this silent communication thing.
"No, not yet. I am sorry, Major. Maybe we can join you for dinner?" It's obvious now that they want him to leave, for God knows what. And when your opponents are Teyla and Laura… you're totally outnumbered.
"Dinner sounds nice. So… see you tonight?" He knows he shouldn't be doing it, but he can't refrain from shooting Laura a short look, questioning if they have a date after dinner.
"Well… maybe. Depends on how much more attempts at blackmail you're planning." Ouch. She really means it. Maybe that remark about the exercise hadn't been such a good idea. But he really needs these reports or else he will be reprimanded. But right, he shouldn't bring work into his private life, as hard as it sometimes is.
"Ouch. Alright… I promise, no blackmail tonight. Will I now see you?" She's still not fully convinced, but again it's Teyla who reacts for her.
"Of course. If you don't mind some additional company, that is." Teyla smiles down at her son, indicating who exactly would be this company. Well, it occurs to him, if that means that Laura might hold him again…
"Sure not. Well then… have fun, huh." With that he leaves the room, conscious of the fact that they passed another knowing look behind his back. Right now, he's really not so sure anymore that they didn't know he was eavesdropping on them. He wonders if he will really pass this night alone after all.