blue flamingos

Getting to Know You

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Gen, PG

Year/Length: 2008/ ~5063 words

Pairing: Cadman + Lorne friendship

Spoilers: set during season 8 of SG1 and the start of season 2 of SGA

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Pretty much since they met, their friendship has a lot of lying for each other to hospital personnel and roughly the same amount of watching each other's backs off world.

Series: Dysfunction 'verse

Author's Notes: For [info]14valentines Day 3: Health; special thanks to [info]dossier and [info]army_rat for inspring the last off-world scene.

Beta: by [info]domtheknight

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.


Laura's first reaction when the door to the infirmary opens and a man in a blood-spattered t-shirt peers cautiously round it is to reach for her radio earpiece, because she's had six months to get used to working in a place where it's actually weird *not* to have aliens trying to take over your work-place at least a couple of times a month, and some habits develop fast.

He turns in her direction when her hand is still halfway there, and shakes his head, pressing a single finger to his lips. Laura hesitates, even knowing that hesitation tends to be what gets you killed around here, but there's something in his eyes that says he's not been taken over by an alien consciousness, and that she can trust him.

She drops her hand and he nods once in thanks, then slips fully through the door, closing it carefully behind himself.

He's dressed in off-world BDUs and boots, a line of stitches running down the left side of his face and his left forearm wrapped in clean bandages, stark white against his muddy skin. His jacket is slung over his other arm, but Laura can still see the tear in the sleeve, and doesn't envy him having to go and beg a replacement from the store keeper.

She can't remember ever seeing him before, but he's clearly on a gate team, given the uniform, and he's older than her by enough that she's fairly confident he's senior. "You okay there, sir?"

"I'm fine, thank you." He looks both ways down the empty corridor again – it's pretty early for most people to be wandering around, but Laura's still on M7Y 412 time after just spending two weeks there. "If anyone asks, you never saw me."

Laura keeps her face completely still, not letting out the laugh that wants to escape. There's a grin playing round his eyes, but she can do deadpan better than anyone else she knows. "Saw who, sir? I definitely didn't see a man sneaking out of the infirmary, probably against doctor's orders, or tell him that General O'Neill is in a meeting down that corridor and would totally turn the man I didn't see in to the medical staff at a later date."

He blinks at her, then gestures in the same direction she was pointing. "O'Neill's down that corridor?"

"Yes, sir. Just, you know, as a passing mention."

"Right. Thanks."

"No problem, sir," Laura said, watching him do a pretty convincing impression of someone who totally has permission to leave the infirmary, before carrying on back to her own quarters.


Gutierrez mentions in the gym that SG-12 is back from P3X 403, traded out for another team after they got caught in a cave in, and Dr Gladwell keeps going on about the young major who got banged up in the cave in, who she just wants to touch (right, just touch, Laura says, rolling her eyes), so the next time she runs into him, she knows she was right to call him sir.

"Major Lorne, sir, see you're needing my help again," she says, raising her voice to be heard over the sound of gunfire.

"Lieutenant," he says, nodding to her, then throws them both down as something explosive screams over their heads. "Perfect timing."

"I try," she says modestly. They're well covered behind a rock near the gate, so she feels pretty safe to crouch there for a second and get her bearings. "I'm ordered to get you safely back to the gate ready to dial home in twenty minutes. Unless you've got something you'd rather be doing."

Another explosive goes by them, but either their attackers have really bad aim, or they're not actually trying to hit anyone, just scare them away. Laura crosses her fingers for the latter, even while past experience tells her to be expecting the former – which is why she has three flash bangs in her vest and is carrying her P-90 and two other weapons.

"I was promised tea, biscuits and a nice easy trade for some Goa'uld technology," Lorne says. "But I guess that's off the table."

"Looks that way," Laura agrees. "Shouldn't have pissed off the nice natives."

"That's good advice, Lieutenant, thanks," Lorne says, and then there's a lull in the attack, so they make a run for the gate.

To Laura's unvoiced amazement, everyone makes it through unharmed and on-time. Maybe the natives really were just trying to scare them off.

Of course, lack of visible bruising has never been seen by the SGC as a reason not to have a post-mission infirmary visit, even if the mission did only last an hour, from gearing up to stepping – well, hurtling – back through the wormhole.

The medical staff are backed up with SG-1, who've met with their usual low level disaster off-world, so Laura pulls up a bit of floor, well out of everyone's way, begs a pen off a passing nurse, and starts on her mission report. O'Neill, in a fit of what Laura can only assume is revenge for every time he's ever had to write one of these things, has instituted a minimum word count for all mission reports. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways of saying, "went through gate, found Major Lorne, returned with him to gate, came home," and none of them are going to take 500 words or more.

She's at 258 when Major Lorne sits down next to her. "That's very conscientious," he says, looking over her shoulder.

"Not really," Laura tells him, glad for an excuse to give up. "A friend of mine's in town for the weekend, and if I write this now, and the post-mission check doesn't take too long, there's a chance I might still manage to catch her before she goes home with whoever has the nicest car." Helena's not actually quite that shallow, but she's shipping out to Afghanistan in a little less than a week, and she firmly believes in making the most of what comforts she has while she has them.

And she really does have a serious weakness for a man with a nice car.

"Ah," Lorne says. "It going well?"

"Not really," Laura says again with a shrug. Medical's still short staffed after losing Dr Fraiser, and she's not optimistic about making a quick getaway. "You know, no-one ever did say what happened to make those people start shooting at you."

"They didn't?" Lorne says innocently, and Laura glares until he laughs and caves. It takes about three and a half seconds. "One of the Chief's sons got a little too friendly with Corporal Andrews there, and didn't take it well when he said he wasn't interested." Lorne gives her a sly, sidelong look. "Apparently, the son was prepared to offer a very fair price for him."

Laura looks at Andrews for a long minute. It's not that he's unattractive, exactly, if you like your men tall and beanpole like. It's more that she's sitting with the rest of the team and she can't imagine anyone picking Andrews as the most desirable of them. "Some boys have all the luck," she says finally.


She runs into Lorne a handful of times in the Mountain after that, and a couple of times when they're both out with the same group of people, celebrating someone's birthday or promotion, and both times they gravitate towards each other before the evening's up.

"Someone's got a crush," Sally teases in the locker room the next day. "Lieutenant Cadman-Lorne, has a nice ring to it."

Laura rolls her eyes – there's no reasoning with Sally, who frequently acts like she joined the Air Force just to meet a husband, and wants the same for everyone else, despite actually being one of the most career focused people Laura knows. "For one thing, no, it really doesn't, it sounds awful," she says because knowing she shouldn't bother and actually not bothering are two very different things. "And for another, please, for the love of all that's holy, and everything that isn't, please stop trying to marry me off to every man I speak to."

"I don't do that," Sally protests, her voice muffled as she pulls on a clean t-shirt. Laura waits for her head to emerge, then frowns at her. "I don't! You talked for five minutes to the chieftain on P9F 417, and I haven't said one word about it since."

"He was married to three different women and didn't have any teeth!" Laura exclaims.

"Don't be picky," Sally says.


Two weeks later, she's wishing that chatting to a guy with no teeth was her biggest problem. Instead, she's firmly chained to a post in the middle of the town square on P2J 596, waiting to be tossed into the river, because apparently this planet's advanced enough to have created chains and some kind of knock-out drug, but not advanced enough to have gotten past the idea that red-haired woman equals witch, and they want to see if she floats.

If it weren't actually happening to her, and if she had some idea of where the rest of her team were, or even if they're still alive, Laura's sure she'd find it a fascinating example of how ideas can spontaneously generate in different cultures, even without the religious context that lead to them in other places. Since neither of these conditions are true, and check-in isn't due for another two hours, she's more worried about getting free, finding her team and getting home than anthropological curiosities.

Sadly, like her witchy powers, her escape plan is pretty much entirely theoretical, since her nice kidnappers have taken her weapons, her radio, and the handy stash of in-case-of-emergencies C4 in her tac vest.

Just her luck to be taken prisoner by a bunch of people who know weaponry when they see it.

Her post is one of eight in a circle in the middle of the cobbled square, and she's trying not to read anything into the fact that the others are empty – it doesn't have to mean that her team members have already been killed, they could just be being held somewhere else. The square is surrounded by houses, but there's no evidence of anyone actually being in any of them; if there hadn't been three people waiting to explain her fate to her when she woke up, she'd be starting to think that she'd somehow gotten tied up by magic.

None of this, unfortunately, is likely to help her to escape, and the lack of people is actually making her more nervous than a large crowd would. She can't help imagining what they might be doing where she can't see them.

She's so involved in imagining it, in fact, that she thinks at first that the sound of the gate activating is just part of that. It's only when she hears the familiar sound of P-90 fire that she realizes they're being rescued.

Oddly, the least surprising part of the whole day is Major Lorne striding through the square, armed with a pair of heavy duty bolt cutters.

"What, did you use your psychic powers to kit up for this mission?" she asks as he kneels by the bolt in the ground which her chain runs through.

"Thought that was you," he says without looking up, and cuts through the bolt. "Here." He hands her weapon up, even though she can't yet raise her arm to fire it. "They should be contained, but just in case."

"I could crush them with my mental powers," Laura suggests. Lorne ignores this, which is probably reasonable – it's not the best comeback she's ever made. "The rest of my team?"

Lorne cuts through another link, a length of chain falling from around her shoulders. "On their way back to the gate. Major Squires managed to escape and get word back to the SGC."

"Are they all right?" Laura asks, distracting herself from the pins and needles sensation of feeling returning as the chain falls away.

"They're fine," Lorne says, looking up for a moment to catch her eye. "Probably grateful for a well-timed rescue, but whatever these people were planning hadn't started yet when we got here."

"Good to hear," Laura says.

When Lorne cuts through the last link in the chain, Laura barely manages to keep from falling at his feet, her balance off from being held in place for so long. Lorne catches her by the arm and helps her take the first few stumbling steps back towards the gate. "Don't read anything into that," Laura warns him.

"I wasn't," Lorne assures her with a smile. "Women fall at my feet all the time."

He might be senior to her, but some things transcend rank. Laura punches him in the arm.


Dr Delaney insists on keeping her in for observation, even after he lets the rest of the team go. "They got the same dose I did," Laura protests. "Why aren't you keeping them as well?"

"It's just a precaution," Delaney says in what Laura assumes he thinks is a soothing tone.

"Great, fine. Shouldn't you be taking it with them as well?"

"Just lie down and –"

"Think of England?" Laura demands, and he goes away, which isn't as good as him letting her leave, but is a slight improvement on his continued presence at her bedside.

She's just starting to doze when someone taps on the railing of her bed. "Go away," she says, not opening her eyes.

"Okay," Lorne says obligingly, but when she opens her eyes, he's still standing there, half-smiling at her.

"Thought you were someone else," Laura explains. She assumes he knows, since he didn't leave. "Thanks for the rescue."

"No problem." Lorne waves it away. "You up for a re-run?"

"Of what?"

Lorne glances to both sides, then leans in conspiratorially. "Of the daring escape." He glances round again, then pulls his arm from behind his back, holding her boots.

"You came to break me out armed with shoes?" Laura asks, sitting up. She's not wired up to anything, and Delaney didn't make her change into scrubs, so it really is that easy. "Thank God you were better prepared earlier."

"Must have left my invisibility cloak in my other pants," Lorne says. "Hurry up."

"All right. I was dosed up with a mysterious anesthetic a couple of hours ago, you know." She drags on her right boot and fumbles with the laces – it'd be just her luck to trip over them and end up in the infirmary for real.

"Maybe I should leave you here, in that case," Lorne offers.

"Nope. Definitely not. I'm all set."

"Major!" Delaney exclaims when Lorne gives her a hand off the bed and heads for the door. "Lieutenant Cadman should be in bed –"

"Sorry, Doc," Lorne says, not sounding completely sincere. "Need her for a briefing." He holds the door for Laura. "I promise I'll bring her straight back if she starts collapsing."

"Major –" Delaney says again, but the door swings closed on the rest of his sentence, and Laura and Lorne hotfoot it down the corridor. Laura wants to laugh, feels like a naughty school kid, but she figures that won't help deflect suspicion, so she swallows it down.

"You don't really need me for a briefing, do you?" she asks, when they're a couple of corridors away from the infirmary.

Lorne shakes his head. "We've all been given the rest of the evening off. Just thought you might like to get out of there."

"Oh yeah," Laura says fervently. She considers for a moment, then decides, what the hell, the man just cut her free from the creepy, witch-burning people, then sprang her from the infirmary. She owes him. "Want to come play pool?"


She found the bar, which is on the next street over from her apartment, one night after a really bad mission, where two of her team got shot and she wasn't sure, that night, if they were going to wake up. It was just trendy enough that no-one paid much attention to a woman on her own, or tried to ask her questions, but not quite trendy enough that she had to drink anything with a weird name, or that they minded when she played pool against herself for an hour. She went back the day she found out her team-mates were going to be okay, and she's just kept going, to the point that, although the bar-tender still doesn't try to make too much conversation, there's a handful of people there who know her well enough that she can feel them glancing at her all evening, wondering, she assumes, what she's doing there with another person.

With a man.

"You know they all think I'm your date, right?" Lorne asks, walking back to Laura's apartment, where he left his car. To her complete lack of surprise, he's not bad at pool, though she still won four out of five games – too much time hanging out with the guys from her advanced chem classes at college.

"Yeah," she says, glancing at him from the corner of her eye as they pass under a street-light. He looks good in jeans and a dark blue t-shirt, but then he's looked good pretty much since the day she met him, and she's never wanted to jump into bed with him. From the relaxed way he's strolling along next to her, hands in his pockets, she's pretty sure the feeling's mutual. "You can stay at mine if you like," she offers, putting the theory to the test, a little. "I wasn't watching how much you drank."

"Me either," Lorne admits. "Which is probably a sign I shouldn't be driving. Thanks."

"No problem. Though you maybe shouldn't say that till you've spent a night on my couch."

There's nothing on his face but mild amusement. "You're talking to the man who lived in a tent on another planet for a year," he says. "I think I can handle your couch."

"Braver men have said the same," Laura tells him solemnly, tossing her door keys from one hand to the other. "But feel free to try."


He does survive her couch, though she catches him wincing when he straightens up, but it's the last they see of each other for a couple of months – Laura's team gets held hostage on a ship belonging to a minor Goa'uld for the better part of a week, then Lorne gets spirited away to be trained on the 302s, and the mission schedule just doesn't sync up for them to be on Earth together for more than five minutes for a while.

When Laura finally does run into Lorne again, he's sitting by himself in the corner of the mess, empty plate surrounded by open files, poking at a bowl of red jello with his spoon.

"I know it doesn't look that way, but I think you're safe to eat that," Laura offers, dropping into the seat opposite him and starting in on her plate of macaroni and cheese. "I really don't think it's sentient."

Lorne makes a face and pushes it away, picking up his coffee instead. Laura flips one of the files round so she can read it. "These are SGC personnel files," she says.

"Yes," Lorne agrees.

"Is mine there?"

"You have no idea what these are even for, and you still want to know if I'm looking at yours?" Lorne asks with a flicker of his usual amusement. It's only when it fades that Laura realizes how tired he looks.

"Well, if it's something bad, I'd rather know," she points out. "And if it's something cool, I need to know if I should start bribing you to consider me for it."

"Neither," Lorne says, taking the file back and closing it. "Trying to pick out a replacement for Jenkins, he's headed for Area 51 next month."

"Good luck," Laura says, but he's right, that isn't especially cool, and she likes her own team just fine. "So I guess that's not the reason you look like you haven't slept since you spent the night on my couch."

Lorne gives her a half-smile, and rubs his eyes. "It's nothing."

"Okay." Laura shrugs and kicks her feet up on the chair next to him. "I was going to offer you my help, but if it's nothing, I'll just save it for next time you need to be rescued off-world."

"Good to know you've got such faith in me," Lorne says dryly. Laura smiles and eats some more of her pasta and waits. She's never tried the pretend-it's-fine-and-wait strategy on Lorne before, but it's always worked on everyone else she's ever tried it on. Lorne, unsurprisingly, is no exception. He looks warily round the surrounding empty tables. "I met a woman at a bar a couple of weeks ago," he says, his voice low, and Laura just manages not to roll her eyes, because they might be friends, but there are still things she just doesn't need to know about a superior officer. Like that he's worn out from too much sex. "Not like that," he adds, apparently catching it anyway.

"Okay," Laura says slowly.

"She thinks I want to date her," Lorne says.

"So tell her no."

"I have. Many times." Lorne sighs. "She won't take no for an answer. Keeps ringing me in the early hours of the morning."

"Okay," Laura says again. "Why?"

Lorne blinks. "She's a paramedic. Works strange hours." Laura nods and makes a circling gesture for him to go on. He shrugs.

"That's it? You look like you've been facing down a small Goa'uld army for the past month or so, because of a woman?"

"Hey, I was just sitting here drinking my coffee," Lorne says. "Which has gone cold, actually."

Laura really does roll her eyes this time, though she's kind of amused that someone who's so competent all the rest of the time is having such problems with a woman. "Fine. Tell me where you met her."


Two days later, Laura meets Lorne outside a bar a few blocks from his apartment. Walking up the street towards him, she sees his eyes flicker up and down her body and cocks a single eyebrow, doing a quick turn. "Will I do?" she asks.

Lorne's eyes fix very firmly on her face, which Laura admires in a male friend, particularly when she's wearing her tightest jeans and a shirt with a couple too many buttons open. "Yeah," he says, and holds out his arm for her to take.

They sit at the bar, and Lorne pays for her beer after she refuses a glass of wine. "Is she here?" Laura asks.

Lorne looks round the bar and shakes his head. "No, but pretty much everyone in here is looking at you," he says, grinning.

"Well, of course." Laura smiles back, crossing her right leg over her left, flicking her hair back.

"And now everyone who wasn't is," Lorne adds.

"I do what I can," Laura says and takes a long drink of her beer.

They've been there an hour and a half, long enough for both of them to be getting a little stir crazy, when Lorne glances over to the door and says, "She's here."

Laura turns slightly to look, and yep, there's a tall, thin woman frowning in their direction. "She's like a foot and a half taller than you," she says, turning back to Lorne.

"I bought her one drink," Lorne says, like that's got anything to do with anything. "Three weeks ago."

"Uh-huh," Laura says, resting her elbow on the bar and leaning on her hand, drawing closer to Lorne, who still keeps looking at her face. She's not used to guys who don't even sneak one look down a low-cut shirt. She bats her eyelashes a little, even though she's got her back to the other woman. "Perhaps you should stop doing that."

Lorne sets his drink down and rests his hand very lightly on her waist. "I'll bear that in mind," he says, looking at her very intently.

"You definitely should," Laura says, smoothing one finger across Lorne's collar, and trying not to feel like a complete idiot doing it. She doesn't even do this with people she is interested in. Lorne bites his lip, just for a second, like he feels as stupid as she does. "Or at least not give them your number," she adds.

"I didn't," Lorne says. "It's not even listed."

"That's a little creepy," Laura says, and Lorne sort of shrugs with his eyes. "You need a better radar for women."

"Guess that explains you then," Lorne says.

"Hey, there's not many women who'd dress up like this for the evening and pretend to be into you," Laura says. She's still leaning into him, and he's still got his hand on her waist, but that's probably all that's fooling anyone watching them.

"That's true, actually," he says, then grins. "Most of them –"

"Do not finish that sentence," Laura says. "There's just no good way to end it."

Lorne laughs and looks over her shoulder, then pulls back. "That was easier than I expected," he says.

Laura straightens up, finishes her beer, and looks at him until he waves the bar-tender over. "Me too," she says. "I was at least expecting a bit of a fight for your affections. Maybe an attempt to toss a drink in my face." She pulls the hair tie from round her wrist and scoops her hair up out of her face, then fastens most of her buttons. "Guess she can't have been that into you after all."

Lorne shrugs. "Guess not."


A month later, her team gets sent with Lorne's to an abandoned planet, scouting it out as a possible alternate alpha site. It's the kind of boring, totally safe mission that gets rotated through the different lower tier teams, almost always paired up according to the skill sets of the different team members; Laura's been on three of these, none of which have required her to blow anything up, to her continued disappointment, but it's the first one she's done with Lorne.

"You do realize," she says during the hike over the rolling hills to the lake, where the biologists want to take samples, "That this is the first time we've been off-world together without anyone trying to kill us."

"I hadn't until you said it, but thanks so much for mentioning it and jinxing us." Lorne actually takes a step away from her, like he thinks something terrible and deadly is going to strike her right there.

"It's an abandoned planet. Nobody lives here. Nothing lives here." She considers for a second. "Nothing lives here other than the purple cows. Which are completely docile and not at all likely to try and kill us."

"You hope," Lorne mutters. Laura's walking on his left, so she can't be totally sure, but she's pretty certain he just put his hand on his gun.

"Seriously," she says, trying to make him laugh. It's not like she doesn't understand the need to keep an eye open for unexpected danger, but he makes her a little nervous like this, ultra-serious and responsible. It's hard to remember that he doesn't have any official status over her. "It's like the set of The Sound of Music or something."

"Except without the Nazis," Lorne says, and Laura thinks that's his mock-serious voice, rather than his really-serious voice. "Or the singing."

"That's easily rectified," Laura tells him. She gives a quick look over her shoulder, but there's no-one in hearing range other than the two biologists, utterly engaged by their discussion of something biological that Laura's not interested enough in to bother following. "I won't even make you skip."

"Lieutenant –" Lorne says warningly, but he's smiling, slightly.

"Come on," Laura wheedles, then shrugs. "Fine. You've probably got a lousy singing voice anyway." She takes a breath, wondering if any of the lines will come back to her once she starts, then figures what the hell and belts out, "The hiiiills are alive with the – oh fuck!"

Which is totally unprofessional, but completely appropriate, because their abandoned planet of purple cows has suddenly become the not-so-abandoned planet of purple cows and, unless she's hallucinating, people clad in lederhosen and small hats.

"If this is what happens when you sing, I guess we should be grateful it was something fairly harmless," Lorne mutters, moving past her to smile winningly at the group.

"It's better than people wanting to kill us," Laura says, and crosses the fingers of her left hand behind her back, just in case.


"So, you get to draw up the personnel list for Atlantis, right?" Laura asks a couple of months later, dropping into the visitor's chair in front of Lorne's desk. She'd put her feet up, but General Landry keeps roaming the halls, and he doesn't seem like the kind of person who'd approve.

Lorne looks at her over a large pile of personnel folders. "Till they decide who's coming as military commander."

"Maybe they'll give it to you," Laura suggests. "Instead of trying to choose between Sheppard and Caldwell."

"Let's hope not," Lorne says with a shudder. Laura can't blame him – she's only heard bits of what Pegasus is like, but she wouldn't want to be in charge.

"So who's on it?" she asks, because not wanting to be in charge isn't the same as not wanting to go, and she's totally prepared to beg until someone lets her through the gate.

"If that's your subtle way of asking if your name's on there, the answer's yes," Lorne says.

Laura's a marine, which means she doesn't bounce, ever, but she can't curb the gleeful smile she knows is spreading across her face. "Cool."

"You think you'd have gotten out of it?" Lorne asks. "I rescued you from Edwards' wrath on the sound of music planet, you owe me. You're not getting out of it that easily."

Laura thinks about every rumor she's heard of what's out there in Pegasus, from life-sucking space vampires to murderous farmers, and all the potential trouble there is for the two of them to get into.

If nothing else, it's going to be an interesting year.


Next: Redefinition

Timestamp: One year later

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