Rating: PG-13 for language
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Characters: Laura Cadman, Evan Lorne
Prompt: "She can handle any champagne brunch, a bridal shower with Bacardi punch, jello shooters full of Smirnoff, but tequila makes her clothes fall off."
Spoilers: Return Part I
Summary: Officially there is no alcohol in Atlantis.
Author's Notes: Thanks to greenconverses for the light-speed beta.
Officially there is no alcohol in Atlantis. It’s not that Dr. Weir is a teetotaler, it’s just that she understands the precariousness of their general situation and doesn’t think that booze and mortal peril mix well.
The problem is that living in Atlantis is one part mortal peril to nine parts mortal boredom. Everyday life in the city is a lot like everyday life in any other city, except with a much higher percentage of Marines, airmen and scientists of all different stripes, and a lot of bizarre architecture.
But eventually you become inured to all that; even the strangest surroundings become familiar given enough time, and if your right-hand neighbor is a quantum physicist from eastern Bangladesh and your left-hand neighbor is a quantitative geneticist – whatever that is – with a belly-button ring and a Boston accent, well, then how is that any weirder than the family of accordion players you lived next to in Georgia or your roommate from college who – well, best just to not get into that.
So officially there is no alcohol in Atlantis, but unofficially it’s like getting cigarettes when you’re thirteen or a fake ID on spring break – if you try hard enough, all things are possible. A couple of guys from the chem labs put together a still, ‘just to see if they could’, but the swill they produce smells like turpentine and tastes even worse.
You can usually pay off someone from the Daedalus to smuggle in something from Earth; a Bud Lite hidden under the Doritoes, maybe, stashed there after the SGC’s customary check for contraband. But there’s a very good chance that it will mysteriously disappear between receiving and your quarters. Funny how these things happen.
The safest way to wet your whistle is to arrange a “visit” to the Athosians. They make a sweet, potent wine that they usually save for special celebrations, but they see no harm in trading for it here and there. They understand mortal peril well and how sometimes the tedium, waiting for danger to strike, needs to be allayed.
But when the Ancients – the Ancestors, the Lanteans – come to reclaim the city, and you return to Earth in a whirlwind of hurt and betrayal and secret relief, nothing says welcome home like getting blind, stinking drunk.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit…”
Footsteps outside the bathroom door halt, and then there is a tentative knock. “Are you okay in there?” asks a man’s voice.
Laura straightens and finds her reflection in the mirror. It’s wildly distorted, a combination of cheap glass, good tequila and the fact that, while splashing her face with water, she lost a contact. It’s not in the sink. Must have gone down the drain.
Damn it to hell. Like most things in life, this can be blamed on McKay. She’s always had perfect vision, 20/20, perfect, until she wound up in Rodney’s head. Ever since then she’s been just a little farsighted – she’s probably lucky that she didn’t wind up with much more bizarre side effects, considering the state of his warped mind - so her first time back to Earth she got fitted for contacts.
She’s got replacements back at her apartment, so it’s probably not worth cussing about. Still… “Shit,” she says again, just for the benefit of the guy outside, who’s just going to have to wait his turn, dammit. Not her fault this place only has a couple of stalls. She plucks the remaining contact from her left eye and hums a few bars from ‘Taps’ as she drops it down the drain after its companion.
Frustratingly, when Laura unlocks and opens the door the guy is still standing there. Everything’s still a little blurry – definitely the Patron, then – but, also frustratingly, she can still tell that it’s Lorne. Major Lorne. Evan Lorne. From Atlantis. She stares at him dumbly for a few seconds. “What are you doing here?”
He raises his eyebrows, more amused than offended. She thinks. “Well, I was going to take a leak,” he says, conversationally.
“Oh.” The hallway is narrow; she edges away and lets him slip past her. “Well, don’t let me stop you.”
The last time she saw him, they were both in another galaxy. Despite the fact that they never had much to say to each other there, despite that inauspicious reintroduction, she finds herself talking with him several times during the night. She’s there for a pre-bachelorette party, he’s hanging out with a group of friends from college, but the place is busy and noisy and they’re former coworkers, and isn’t that a good enough reason to run into each other a couple of times, too and from the bar, watching the twenty-somethings bump and grind on the dance floor, grimacing at each other from across the room and then laughing despite themselves at the other person’s expression. She finds herself thinking about multi-dimensional portals and trans-galactic travel and how all things are possible.
It has something to do with the experience they share that no one else in the vicinity could believe, much less understand. Above and beyond the secrecy of the SGC, which they had both experienced before joining the expedition in their respective roles, there is a camaraderie between them that would have existed even if had been the quantitative geneticist or the quantum physicist and not the blue-eyed flyboy from California.
At least she thinks his eyes are blue. The bar is full of dramatic shadows and it’s hard—
Damn it, why is she fixated on his eyes?
“I can’t do tequila,” he tells her during a lull between songs, gesturing at the fresh glass in her hand and the rum and coke in his. “I had a bad experience when I was about fourteen; I had an unscrupulous aunt who made me margaritas and told me they were homemade Slurpees. I’ve never been so sick in my life.”
She finds this incomprehensibly hilarious.
“If I’m going to get drunk,” she tells him, well aware that she’s well on her way there, that she’s slurring her words just a little, that she’s leaning in as the music starts up again, “I want it to taste like booze. That stuff the Athosians made… it was like liquid licorice, you know?”
He grins. “So I suppose you were a big fan of Stuart and McKlasky’s fine product, then,” Lorne says.
She blinks, thinking, and then remembers where she’s heard those names before. The still. “You knew about that?”
The pre-bachelorette party begins to migrate around eleven. They only have the limo until three and there are a couple of other places that Joy and the girls want to hit.
Laura feels an unexpected pang of regret as the girls pay their tabs and sort out their shoes. Lorne nods at her from the other side of the room, where his gang is gathered around the ESPN feed.
They’ll probably see each other at the SGC, but not often; he’s leading a team now, and she’s still part of Caldwell’s crew. Even though her thoughts of Carson are nothing but fond, she begins to wish she had gotten to know Evan Lorne a little better back on Atlantis.
It was a different place, a different time. Strangely charmed, despite the mortal peril and official lack of alcohol.
A dry city, she thinks, smiling, imagining the ocean stretching out ahead of her for uncountable miles, the neighbors from Bangladesh and Boston, the danger and the strangeness. She misses it so much that it hurts, a little, in ways that the tequila can’t numb.
She steps outside amid a gaggle of girls she feels suddenly disconnected with, and the cold night air bites at her bare arms.
“I forgot my jacket,” she says aloud.
Joy gives her a wry look as the others pile, shrieking and limbs akimbo, into the limo. “Don’t sound so shocked.”
She cuts her eyes back towards the bar. They can hear the music pounding through the walls. “You know how you get with tequila. Besides, that guy? Very hot. I wouldn’t want to leave, either.”
Laura opens her mouth to protest.
Then she decides that Joy’s right.
She likes that jacket. And she likes that song. And she likes tequila.
And all things are possible.