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: In every couple's life there comes the day were you have to tell your family... let's see how Laura Cadman and Evan Lorne solve it.
A/N: Well then, just like I promised, a nice little two-parter, this time with the twist of a change of perspective... and my faithful reader mac might want to cut this one out (if you don't: Don't say I didn't warn you ;)). By the way, thanks to everyone who contributed to the song search. Even if I didn't take one of the songs you suggested, they still were great help to get me some ideas as to where I could possibly search.
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 VI: Building bridges
"And just like stars burning bright
Making holes in the night
We are building bridges."
KT Tunstall, "Universe & U"
She has just gotten home when the phone rings. Exasperated, she flings the mail on the living room's coffee table, not even having read the senders' addresses yet. So much for having a quiet evening with the children being taken care off by Charlie and his parents. As she picks up the receiver she takes great care to put on a friendly face so she won't startle the caller at the other end with answering too aggressively. Could very well be the Dean. "Anna Williamson speaking, what can I do for you?"
"Huh, you must be really getting old if you don't even recognize this phone number."
"Mom! I practically ran to the phone, because I just came back home from work. I thought picking up at all was a little more important than seeing who it actually is." She rolls her eyes, and she is sure that her mother can detect that even though she's thousands of miles away from her.
"Ah, then I take it you didn't have a moment to look at your mail today?" What the hell is this about now?
"Mom… I've had a hell of a day, it's raining cats and dogs outside and I practically dashed inside to get to the phone in time. No, I did not have a moment to look at my mail." Her mother, a retired art teacher who had to work with petulant teenagers for nearly all her working life, only sighs a little unnerved.
"Well, you should. Your brother has decided to grace us with a piece of his faraway exciting life again." Immediately her frustration and irritation at her mother's cool attitude has vanished and she makes a beeline for her coffee table. And yes, there's the characteristic little package with the cryptic postmarks and address codes on it. How could she have missed that?
"Nice of you to remind me, mom, but… what's so important about it that you have to phone me?" Usually, they both get the same video on DVD and an individual additional letter. In his mother's package, Evan usually includes a few sketches for her and something for their father. In her package, he includes something for the kids, a sealed letter for Charlie she never gets to see and now and then some little souvenir from that country where he's based. But usually their mother doesn't get so excited about it that she has to call her on the day the package arrives. So something extraordinary seems to have happened, and she really hopes it's nothing bad.
"Play the video and you'll see. And don't worry: I didn't really believe it either when I saw it for the first time." What the…? Why does her mother always have to be so secretive? But it's no use prying anymore so she simply ribs open the package, sets the letters and other contends apart for later and gets the DVD to play.
"Alright, so what… Oh, there he is." It's her brother, alright. Looking good as always, but maybe a bit older, like he had a lot on his hands lately. But it suits him, and from what she can see, he seems to be at ease. He isn't wearing his uniform, just some t-shirt and a jeans, sitting on something like a couch. It makes her wonder again what kind of base that actually is. The little stuff he sends home for them looks like being from some African or sometimes Asian country, but the base looks like a solid building, nothing like the usual US-American bases in Iraq and other countries you can see on TV.
"Hi everyone! Hope everything is alright with you. There's been a mail hold-up somewhere, and so we still haven't gotten any mail from home, but they told us our outgoing mail can be proceeded so I decided to try it anyway, because… there's been some development here." Her mother on the other end chuckles, so obviously it's no bad development. But she hates it when some people already know what's coming and simply can't keep from telling her, so she shushes her mother.
"So… I should probably not waste any time anymore… I'd like to introduce you to someone." Huh? HUH? He didn't… did he? The way he's suddenly starting to get fidgety, looking a lot younger than before… like every time he introduced them to his newest girlfriend. She pauses the DVD.
"Let me guess… he's finally got a new girlfriend?" Her mother snorts.
"Wait, it's just getting started. I never thought your brother had that much of a comedian in him." Alright. That's obviously going to be good.
She hits the play-button again, and he turns his head to his left side, whispering loud enough for the camera to pick it up: "Uh, Laura… that was your cue, you know." He turns back to the camera, mockingly rolling his eyes and saying: "Biggest mouth in front of her CO, but afraid of a little camera."
The answer is a pillow that comes flying through the picture, hitting him in the shoulder. That triggers his "Don't mess with me."-face and he half gets up, holding up his index finger. "Be right back." Then he turns to his left and walks out of the picture frame, growling: "Get here this instant, Lieutenant!"
It's answered by an off-camera giggling and a female voice taunting: "Come and get me, Major!" Blinking, she pauses the DVD again.
"Please tell me he's not messing around with a junior officer." Being the wife and sister of US Air Force officers, she knows enough about military life that this can't be good for a soldier's career. And since when is Evan doing something that isn't good for his career?
"No, dear, you have to see that for yourself. You don't want me to spoil you with other stuff, I won't spoil you with this. Just keep watching." Aw, that's not nice. But alas, her mother is right. And so she hits the play-button again.
There are some sounds from off-camera that sound suspiciously like he really has to get her… Laura, that's what he called her. More giggling and some laughter from him, then: "Later, young lady. And only if you say hi to my family." She can hear protestations, but he's obviously used to this. "Nuh-uh, you promised. Now be a good little Marine." A Marine? On the other end, her mother snorts again, because she probably heard her surprised gasp.
"That's how I reacted. And don't worry, I had this fleeting thought that they brainwashed him or something, too. But keep watching, here she comes now." And yes, he's coming in to the picture again, followed by a young woman with a very light limp… who turns around again immediately. She can't see their faces, but she's pretty sure there's this typical "Uh… nope, can't do it, gotta go."-expression on the woman's face. Her brother manages to catch her around the waist and simply drags her down with him on the couch.
The moment, the woman turns her face to the camera – after fussing around a little with Evan and swatting his hands away that he just placed on her thigh to keep her down, of course – she pauses the DVD again, to get a better first look at her. She's a red-head with shoulder-long hair… or maybe a little longer, looking to be in her mid or late twenties – for some reason that irritates her a little, because it would mean that she is even younger than herself – and just not like her brother's type at all. But somehow… she looks familiar… "You're giving her the once over, aren't you?"
Argh. Sometimes she thinks her mother is psychic, and she always does that when she is prepared least for it. She just sighs. "Yes, I did. It's not like I didn't with all his other girls." And usually she was even able to predict how long it would hold. But with this one… maybe she needs to watch her a little longer.
"And I don't blame you, honey. You're his sister and that entitles you to be the greatest critic of his girlfriends." Uh-huh. Yeah. Sure.
"Mom… I won't even pretend I believe a word of that, alright? So… let's just get on, shall we." And with that, the DVD is running again.
Evan is now leaning back comfortably against the couch, and his girlfriend tentatively leans back as well. What surprises her is that she can already somehow see that there's an amount of trust, affection and attraction between the two she hasn't witnessed between Evan and any of his other girlfriends. She wonders how long exactly this is already going on.
"Alright, uh… family, this is Lieutenant Laura Cadman, USMC." Cadman… that name triggers something in her… yes! She's read that name in two or three of his past letters, only in passing, like "Lieutenant Cadman just asked if I accompany her to the mess hall, gotta go." or "Got rid of the sample when I gave it to Cadman who was happy to play around with it.", and only now she realizes that this already should have told her that Evan was on to something.
"Ahem… hi, Evan's family." The Lieutenant blushes a little, tries a little friendly smile and even waves. But then she turns around to Evan, and suddenly the nervousness is gone again. "Alright, I said hi to your family. Can we now…?"
"Honey, not in front of the kids!", he interrupts her horrified and after a shock second, the Lieutenant starts laughing a rich, loud laughter that she likes immediately. And she likes very much how that laughter makes Evan glow. Her own mouth curls into a bright grin.
"He's hooked, isn't he?", her mother asks, and she's surprised to detect a strange wistful note in this. Huh? Is their mother, who always took great pride in being able to cope with her children growing up so very well, suddenly getting all teary-eyed at seeing her big boy seriously in love?
"Yes, he is. He's really got it bad. Head over heels." She can already tell from the way he's delighted with making his girl laugh, or the little kiss on her neck he just sneaked in without even remembering that there was a camera present – usually something he took great care of refraining from in the company of his family – or the gentle, playful way he just won't let go of the hand that was just about to swat him on the shoulder he caught.
"You can be such an idiot, Evan Lorne." And she notices something else. The Lieutenant… Laura's feelings seem to equal these of her brother. She doesn't know Laura as well as Evan – in fact, she doesn't know her at all – but she's been a college lecturer on sociology long enough to be able to read her. It's the fact that as soon as her focus is on Evan, Laura forgets the camera watching them and puts away the mask of nervousness she has displayed only moments before. It's like… she can be herself around him, and that's a dead giveaway that she is as hooked as Evan. She pauses the DVD again.
"You know, I think that girl is as hooked as he is. I don't know what it is, but I've got the feeling that there's more to this relationship than to other relationships I know… including my own." That's bold, and she hopes her mother doesn't misunderstand it and immediately start quizzing her if she's got any problems in her marriage she hasn't told her mother about. But she hasn't… she just has the feeling that those two – her brother and Laura – have had to overcome much more obstacles than most other couples she knows.
There is, for example the issue of non-fraternization, and she knows her brother well enough that it must cause him severe headaches. This one woman has to be something special that he still takes everything upon him that defying non-frat rules means. She's also inclined to think that Laura must be a woman who takes her job very seriously as well – it sounds very unlikely to her that Evan would be in love like this with a soldier who doesn't share his passion and dedication – so that for her it probably isn't easy as well. Suddenly she'd really love to get to know this Marine.
"Anna… just for the record: You know that you can talk to me about everything and…" Aw, no, just like she predicted. She takes a deep resigned breath.
"No, mom, that's not what I meant. I was just thinking about all this non-frat stuff and the fact that they are based somewhere far away and dangerous and that this is just probably a whole galaxy away from a usual stateside relationship." Come on, mom, don't pout now. This is not the place for another discussion about "showing respect to my elders", she thinks. Mostly, because her mother only whips out that line when she's right.
"I was just saying… Anyway, it's not over yet." Sighing, she hits the play-button again.
"You're starting to sound redundant, darling.", her brother answers the infamous exclamation from his girlfriend. She just sticks out her tongue, and that prompts him to lunge at her and kiss her fully on the lips. Probably hide this vid from the kids, she thinks. Last time their uncle had been in a relationship they had been much too young to actually register it and they are just so used to seeing the eternal bachelor in him. Additionally they are still in the "Eww, kissing!"-stage. And maybe hide it from Charlie as well… she just has this feeling that he wouldn't be too thrilled about seeing his brother in law mess around with a junior officer so openly.
On the screen, Evan's momentum propels both him and Laura to the floor and the sound of laughter and giggling can be heard again. Now only their heads are still visible. She shakes her head, incredulously. Had her brother looked a little older than his 35 years at the beginning of this video, then he surely appears much younger now. And then she witnesses something else that looks quite unique.
Because suddenly, she hears a small cry that is something between pained and irritated. Immediately, the commotion on the bottom of the screen stops and she can see a change in Evan's demeanour. Obviously something hurt Laura and he's serious all of a sudden. Tenderly he cups her face with one hand and says softly: "Hey, everything okay?"
She smiles a little strained and holds up her right hand and she can see a brace around Laura's wrist. "Yeah, sure. Just caught the wrong angle. Look, everything's…" She obviously wants to show him that she can put strain on the wrist and uses the hand to push herself upwards. "Okay… obviously not everything." Pain shortly crosses Laura's face, and Evan seems to have seen it as well.
"Maybe you should have one of the docs look at it.", he says frowning and somehow that look tells her that there's more to the wrist than just a training accident.
"No, really. The wrist's okay, the ankle's okay… I'm okay. Everything's okay." Evan looks like he doesn't believe a word, probably because this is not the first discussion of that kind they have.
"Laura…" Before he can say anything else, Laura takes his face in her hands and places a light kiss on his lips. He sighs and puts his forehead to hers. "We've talked about this, remember? No more playing down injuries." In return, she kisses him again and runs her healthy hand through his hair.
"And I'm not. Honestly." She is surprised to see how being touched by Laura soothes her brother. The frown still stays on, but the simple act of kissing him and running her hand through his hair settles Evan down. Suddenly this isn't fooling around anymore, but a very private exchange between two people, and she knows she shouldn't be watching this, but this side of her brother is so new and alien to her that she can't help continuing.
"What do you think, how long this has already been going on, mom?", she asks her mother a little absentmindedly, while the couple in front of her closes their discussion with another kiss and then getting up.
"Well… three or four months tops." Huh? She's surprised at how ready her mother is with that answer, and her mother probably knows it already, because she adds: "Half a year ago he mentioned her name the first time. Five months ago he already mentioned her four times in one letter. And three and a half months ago, there was a sketch of her in his letter." Of course. That's why Laura Cadman looks so familiar to her. Her mother had shown her the piece – very carefully drawn and without any explanation as to who that is and both of them had been a little suspicious – and she has no clue how she could have forgotten about that.
"Mom… you knew, didn't you?" On the screen, Evan and Laura are sitting on the couch again, and Laura has finally lost a little of her camera-shyness, looking more relaxed than at the start. She has drawn up her right leg and lightly leans into Evan, who has put an arm on the backrest behind her.
"I suspected. Now listen, it's important." Well… whatever. She can ask her mother why she suspected and never told her after this.
"Uh, okay… where was I? Oh, right. I know it's been a long time since I've been home, and I'm really sorry for that. But there's been a lot of work and something always comes up and…" Laura whacks him on his thigh, not exactly discreetly, and it makes her snort, because he obeys her immediately, even though he looks at her a little irritated. "Okay, okay, I get it, Lieutenant. Well, long story short: I… we will be going on leave in three months, for six weeks. And we were… thinking about… passing three of them with you. If that's okay with you, I mean."
It throws her so off-course that she has to pause the DVD again. For a moment, she's speechless. Her big brother is coming home. He's really coming home. It's been nearly a year since she's seen him for real the last time, and that had been only for an hour or so, because he had been here on business at Cheyenne Mountain and she had been in Colorado Springs incidentally.
"Mom… he's not joking, right? I mean… he really means that, doesn't he?" That would be… the kids are gonna flip, because it's been ages since they saw their uncle.
"Yes, I do believe he is serious. I've already read the letter, and there he says that they intent to share the three weeks between us and her parents and asks if we'd like to pass at least part of the three weeks with them at the beach." Huh. She grins.
"Good God, if I wasn't already dead sure that he's in love, I'd be now. How many girls has he allowed to the beach? One? Two?"
"Exactly one. The one before that girl…. What's her name? Oh right, Laura. Should really get used to that name." What the…? Their mother isn't starting to get jealous, right? Because she never had displayed this kind of jealousy only a mother can display at the girlfriend of her son before. "Anyway… it's been one girl, and it took him over a year. We're in for the visit of our lives, I just bet." There… the strange undertone again.
"You're not going to give her a hard time, right? Because that would be totally out of character for you." For a moment, her mother doesn't say anything.
Then: "Of course not. Why should I? And continue with that DVD, there's still the punch line missing." Huh, "Why should I?", her ass. Her mother does have issues with Laura already, and that's something they really should talk about before the both of them arrive here. Preferably right after she is through with the DVD.
"There's… a punch line?"
"Oh yes. Come on, just put it on again." She shrugs. Alright.
On the screen, Evan now leans back his head on the couch's backrest. "Well… that was fun." Laura makes a face.
"Absolutely. Well, apart from the falling-off-the-couch-bit, maybe.", she deadpans and Evan raises his head again, pointing his index finger at her.
"Hey, don't blame that on me. You started it." Uh… she begs to differ. It was him who threw them both off the couch, and she already makes a mental note to tell Laura she is totally on her side here.
"Uh-huh, yeah, right." There, good girl. Give it back to him.
And yes, he obviously realizes pretty fast that he would lose if he really chose to fight about it. "Um… how about we just get started with the real vid now?" Wha… wait. Did he just say…?
"Yeah, we better. I mean, imagine anyone got to see this one."
The screen fades to black, and she chokes. The first thing getting out is another snort, followed by something between a laugh and giggle and then she finally laughs out loud. She can't believe this. They never intended to send this. But she instantly decides that she likes this better than any other proper video they could have sent.
"I knew you'd like it. And imagine the fun we'll be having when they are finally here." She can imagine her mother's devious grin very well. Sometimes her mother scares her, because of the underlying evil tendencies. But she's right: This is the best teasing material Evan ever offered them, even better than all his embarrassing childhood videos combined.
"Can't wait for the three months to be over. I'd really like to get to know this girl better." It's a bait for her mother, and she hopes she falls for it.
"I… yeah, me too." A-HA! She knew it. Well then, better she talks to her mother now than with the kids running through the house or Charlie wanting to do a little cuddling, because she has this feeling that this conversation will take longer than a few minutes.
"About that, mom… I think we need to talk."