Disclaimer : As always, I don't own any of this. (sigh)
Valentine's day :
The city of Atlantis was unusually boiling. After several months without any attack on it, its leaders had decided to organize a special event to allow people to relax for good. So there it was: The first Valentine's day ever in the Pegasus Galaxy. Since a week, everybody had been talking only about it, preparing for it. To make sure that anybody had a chance to enjoy it with the same intensity, Dr McKay had proposed a giant lottery with the names of all the people interested put in couples by hazard. To the Major's biggest surprise, it worked, and a good sixty percent of the city's inhabitants participated, the rest being mainly already existing couples. Luckily, the expedition counted roughly as many women as men*, to ensure the living conditions so far from Earth...
Dr Simpson had picked up a Sergeant Wilson, a handsome young officer she barely knew. They were supposed to go together to the mess, where a romantic atmosphere had been prepared by the organizers. The scientist had managed to find a nice dress for the occasion, along with shoes and jewels. She was extremely glad for the opportunity of a romantic date after so long, and even though she tried her best to stay objective, she couldn't help the dreams that came with the event: Who knew what might result of this night? Unfortunately, any romantic thought she had got wiped out almost as soon as she met the guy. The handsome young officer obviously wasn't so happy to date her, and didn't even have the decency to hide his disappointment. He did however propose her to go in his quarter to have a drink before dinner. The invitation surprised Helena, but she went, only to discover what the man real intentions were. He tried not so subtly to put her in his bed, and only succeeded in getting her out of the room really quickly, with one of her precious shoes in each hand and an extremely bad mood on top of that!
Now, she felt like a fool with all her beautiful dreams, she was very upset and beginning to be hungry, but she'd better starve than go alone for the romantic dinner! The beautiful dress was only hindering her, and all the couples she passed by were giving her some pity looks, as she obviously wasn't having a big night. At the end, tired of holding her shoes, she decided to stop at the lab and take her time before going back to her quarter and hiding herself for good. She opened the door and sat heavily on the next available chair, closing her eyes and sighing with relief.
She then realized that the lights were on before her arrival, so somebody must have been there before her. With a bad premonition, she turned on her seat. Right behind her, staring at her with surprise, was Dr Kavanagh. Oh God, not him! She tried her best to regain some composure.
-What are you doing here?, she snapped at him, not in the mood of making any effort to be polite.
Kavanagh looked even more surprised by the aggression. Behind him, Helena saw his computer on. She had obviously interrupted him in his work, and so she should have been the one apologizing, but the man was so annoying sometimes, that she felt the right to consider his unexpected presence as an act of war.
-And what are you staring at?, she yelled again, more upset than ever.
-Sorry, Kavanagh mumbled and turned back to his computer.
Helena was surprised. That wasn't the way Kavanagh used to act around her – or anyone else for that matter. She frowned, her anger instantly replaced by inextinguishable curiosity. Her voice was much friendlier then.
-Why aren't you on some date like everyone else?, she asked.
-You are not on a date yourself, he replied dryly.
The answer wasn't mean enough to stop her.
-Well, I was, but it didn't go so well. What's your excuse?
He looked up at her, surprised by the confession. They usually spoke only of professional matters, and it seemed strange to both of them to have such a conversation together.
-I... I didn't participate to the lottery.
-Because I know that the girl chosen to be with me tonight wouldn't be happy at all, that's why.
Helena hadn't consider it for a second, that people could not participate by fear of other's reactions. If asked, she would have bet that Kavanagh had no idea of the way he made people around him feel, and of how annoying he could be at times. He never looked like he'd give a damn anyway. She swallowed hard, not knowing what to say. With anyone else, she'd deny the obvious to be polite, but she knew Kavanagh too well to take him for an idiot, even by politeness. In the mean time, her stomach chose to manifest itself, she was definitely hungry now.
-Listen, aren't you hungry? Because I am, and I certainly don't want to go to the mess alone tonight. Why don't we go together?
Kavanagh seemed to consider the offer for a minute. The truth was, he was very hungry himself, but wouldn't go to the mess either. Professional arrangement, he thought to himself, while nodding in agreement.
-Sounds like a good idea.
When he stood, Helena saw that he wasn't wearing the official outfit, but just jeans and a white shirt. It made him look very different from the everyday life of the lab. He smiled shyly at her, and it troubled her, to realize that she was going to be seen publicly on a date with him. He saw the hesitation in her eyes and his smile vanished instantly. He sat back.
-See, you don't even want to be seen with me in the mess. Let's forget it.
He had turned his back to her, but she could hear in his voice just how upset he was. Now that she looked, his body language said it all: His head and shoulders low, his body hunched up over his computer, Helena recognized in him all the feelings of shame, anger and mostly loneliness she felt after her missed date. For a moment, she wondered on their common points: Did their colleagues compare them sometimes? And the people outside the lab? Did her name in the lottery had the same effect his would have had? For the very first time since she'd met Kavanagh, Dr Simpson actually had an interest in the man, other than professional.
She sighed deeply. Kavanagh ignored her. So, she tried again.
-Hey, I'm sorry ok.
-You're still there?, Kavanagh said with fake surprise.
-Yep. And I won't leave without you.
-How romantic, he replied sourly.
Helena smiled to herself. Kavanagh wasn't so pissed at her, or he would have pushed her out already. He wanted to go as much as she did, so she accepted the challenge, as she always did with him.
-Look, if you come, I let you present our common results at the next meeting.
That got his attention. Since all his presentations in front of Dr McKay used to turn into a fight, Kavanagh wasn't allowed to present his group results anymore, which totally infuriated him. He turned back on his seat to face her.
-Really? You think it's your decision to make?
-I can certainly put it in a way that would allow you to make your speech.
Kavanagh seemed to consider it for a minute, but Helena already knew she had won, since that was the kind of offer he just couldn't refuse.
-Fine. I'll go to the mess with you. Let's hope there's something left to eat!
A quarter later, they were both sitting face to face at a beautifully decorated table. Each had a plate in front of them, and they could enjoy the calm of that usually noisy place at the light of candles. Intimidated by the place, they hadn't found a conversation subject yet. Around them, many couples were chatting casually, or quietly staring at each other with eyes full of love. Behind Kavanagh, Helena could see Dr Zelenka in a date with a beautiful blond woman she didn't know. Whoever she was, the Czech's charm seemed to be working on her and she put her hand on the scientist's while Helena was watching, causing the man to almost chock on his meal. Meanwhile, Kavanagh seemed more embarrassed than happy.
-Everything's ok?, Helena finally asked.
-Yes. I'm just... not in the mood, I guess.
-Not in the mood for food?, she asked, designing with her fork the plate he hadn't really begun to eat yet.
-No... It's just, you know, the candles thing and all, he replied shrugging.
She knew. She was feeling weird, too, as if she shouldn't be there without a real date. And that sucked, because she had every right to be there and enjoy her evening no matter what, and so did he.
-We should talk about something. She said finally.
-Like what?, he sounded defeated, and it didn't suit him.
-Like... when was your last date?, she blurted out, hearing her question as she asked it.
Kavanagh blushed, and for a second she thought it was the end of their first and last "date", but to her biggest surprise, he answered.
-Two years ago, on Earth, a woman of area 51.
She couldn't stop a chuckle at the thought of an alien specimen going to a date. He smiled wearily at her, not getting the joke but glad to make her laugh.
-Sorry. My turn, I guess? I dated a regular citizen for six months before coming here, and then a stupid military bastard two hours ago,
She couldn't say why, but the thought of this idiot she'd let alone in his room practically with his pants on his knees gave her the giggles. She laughed at the thought, and Kavanagh laughed too, even though he didn't get the joke, again.
The ice was now broken between them. They began chatting about thousand little things going on in the city, like old buddies catching up after too long. Helena found out that the most hated scientist of the expedition had a particular sense of humor, one that would horrify most, but she found it, well, refreshing, and certainly different from all her previous dates.
But it was getting late, and the candles were melted. They were alone in the mess, now, with only Dr Zelenka and his date a little further. When those two left, they both got the feeling that the party was over. Kavanagh stood slowly and came behind Helena to hold her chair. The gesture was one of a real gentleman, and she appreciated it much. After taking a good quarter for a trip that needed only ten minutes, they finally arrived at Dr Simpson's quarter door.
Helena didn't want this evening to end. She hadn't had that much fun talking to someone in months. And the best part was that she could tell Kavanagh was feeling the same. They stood there, in front of the door, one more minute, like teenagers not daring to make their move. She finally proposed him.
-Wanna come in?
-I'm not sure. With us being colleagues and all, do you think this is a good idea?
Helena thought it over, then she smile again, encouragingly.
-I think I don't care. Why don't we play idiots, just for tonight?
Kavanagh looked at her with all the intensity of his blue eyes, and for the first time that night, Helena couldn't read his expression. But he nodded eventually, and they both went in. He stayed at the door, staring at her as she took her shoes off and freed her hair. Then she came closer to him, knowing what she wanted on that moment, but hesitating on how to get there. He didn't let her hesitate for too long, he just kissed her, very gently at first, and then with more and more passion. She kissed him back, just for the feeling, for once with no consideration of any kind disturbing her mind. Then they moved to the bed.
The next morning, Kavanagh was lying on his back on Helena's bed. She was still sleeping, but he'd been awake for a while already. He wanted nothing more than to wake her up and enjoy the early morning with her before breakfast, but he knew he couldn't. It was the next morning, and the magic of Valentine's day had disappeared for good. He wondered how she would react to their crazy night: She would probably want to erase it as soon as possible and go back to normal. He didn't feel the same. Since he'd met her two years ago at their arrival at Atlantis, he'd noticed her, for her beauty, but especially for her brilliant mind. And ever since, he'd knew he didn't stand the slightest chance to ever be with her. And now that, a fantastic night on every aspect, only she wasn't serious about it. She didn't want to be with him, he just happened to be at the right moment at the right place. His lucky night, nothing more. He should have felt glad for it, but instead he felt angry at that luck that gave him all to take it back later. It wasn't fair, really.
With a deep sigh, he quietly stood up and dressed. Then he stared at her, but since she didn't wake up, he took it for a sign and left the room. Outside, everything was quiet, most people obviously weren't awaken yet. He headed back to the lab, after a short stop in his quarter. He didn't want to spend the rest of the day waiting for something impossible, so he just went back to his work.
Meanwhile, Helena finally woke up, stretching her arm on her side only to find an empty bed. She opened her eyes and stared on the room in disbelief. How could he? After a night like that, just leaving like a theft? She couldn't believe it, but there it was : Kavanagh hadn't left any message of any kind behind him. And she was all alone, again. But this time, it wouldn't be so easy. She would find him and tell him what she thought of his inexcusable behavior!
She was furious when she went to his quarter, but he wasn't there. So she was even more furious when she went to the mess, but then again, he wasn't there. She took her morning coffee standing near the door, not wanting to let the anger disappear after breakfast. Five minutes later, Dr Zelenka arrived with her Valentine's date. They both seemed really happy, and Helena felt her heart sink watching how other people managed to find happiness and she couldn't make it work. By the time she finished her coffee, she took a second cup and headed to the lab, where she knew someone was hiding from her.
Dr McKay was in the lab, too. He'd been surprised to see Dr Kavanagh arrive early that morning, but he didn't ask. Then he saw Dr Simpson arrive one hour later, and the look she gave him was explicit enough, even for him, so he left the lab and went back to the mess, for his third morning coffee of the day.
Kavanagh didn't realize Helena was there, until a steaming cup appeared in front of him. The coffee looked good, but the girl looked pissed. Bad moment, he thought to himself.
-Dr Simpson, he greeted her just as he'd done every morning for the last two years.
Helena stared at him in disbelief. The anger came back, and she seriously considered using the steaming cup as a weapon. But instead, she sat on a chair in front of Kavanagh and gave him her best icy look, hoping she wouldn't need to explain.
Kavanagh was puzzled. What in hell did she want from him? He couldn't erase the night they'd spent together even if he'd wanted to, he already did his best to make it look like it was nothing.
-How may I help you?, he said cautiously.
So much for subtlety, Helena thought.
-I think we're both adults, here. So why don't you tell me what the hell is going on in your little head?, she was very proud of herself for not yelling at him.
Kavanagh was even more embarrassed, now.
-I really don't know what you want me to say, Helena.
-It's Dr Simpson to you, it seems, and yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about, except if you come from a parallel universe where we didn't have sex together yesterday.
He blushed, slightly horrify to hear her talk like that. Thank God nobody else was there!
-I was there yesterday, and there is nothing we can do now to erase it, so why don't we just try to forget about it, and act like the adults you said we are?
That hurt Helena. "Erase it", "forget about it", every word was like a knife he used against her. And all the sudden, tears came to replace her anger. She did her best to hide it, though, and retreat honorably.
-I'm sorry you feel that way.
With that, Helena went out, heading back to her quarter, deeply hoping to be able to hold her tears long enough. She even managed a shy smile to Dr Zelenka when she passed by him.
Kavanagh was still staring at the lab door in total disbelief. She wanted him to think otherwise? What would that mean, thinking of her as his girlfriend? He felt like an idiot for letting her go like that. Then he rushed out of the lab, hurrying to join her before she definitely closed her door to him. On his way out, he almost knocking down Dr Zelenka, who looked at him with unhidden curiosity.
"Almost there", Helena thought, longing for her privacy. She was so focused on opening the door, that she screamed in surprise when she felt an hand on her shoulders. Turning back, she saw Kavanagh, totally out of air.
-Wait..., he only managed to say.
They stare at each other, while he made his best to regain some composure.
-I'm sorry, ok? Really sorry. It's not what you think.
There we go, Helena felt the tears coming back to her eyes.
-I got that part when I woke up this morning. I just wish you'd had the courage to tell me to my face.
Kavanagh couldn't believe his hears, he wanted to tell her how much she meant to him, but couldn't get the words out of his mouth. God, he felt like such an idiot for letting her think that he didn't want her for some obscure reason.
-Look, I really don't know how to say this, yesterday...
Helena was still staring at him, and he blushed, looking away to find the courage to speak.
-I didn't think you would ever want this thing between us to be official. I thought you'd be ashamed of yesterday, that you'd like to be as discreet as possible about it.
That admission totally disarmed Helena. She was the one out of words, now, and Kavanagh waited for her reaction, staring stubbornly to the floor.
-I don't want us to be together only because we're in another galaxy, you know. If you don't feel like being with me, I can understand, but I need to be sure that we're thinking the same about that. Take your time.
With that, she opened the door and closed it behind her. No more "maybe", she thought to herself, let see what comes out of this. As she moved to seat on her undone bed, she surprised herself thinking how great it will be if only...
She wasn't inside for more than 2 minutes when someone knocked at the door. She opened immediately. Kavanagh was standing there, as he was before.
-What part of "take your time" didn't you get, exactly?, Helena said a bit too harshly.
-I don't need any time, I've had two years to learn to know you.
Kavanagh smiled shyly.
-I dreamed of yesterday more times than you could imagine.
He was blushing slightly, and Helena had just the time to realize that it was by far the most beautiful compliment ever made to her, before she kissed him again.
Good thing there was no schedule to hold the day after Valentine's evening.