|A Shopping Cart Filled With Cans
It really was an honest mistake -- he hadn't meant to wreck the Orion battling the Wraith. It just sort of ... happened, like so much other stuff in the Pegasus Galaxy (body-switching, possession, his CO getting trapped in a time field and spending six months with wacky religious types) just sort of happened.
When Sheppard said, "... confined to the city for six months, and you can spend it working in the mess and catching up on my paperwork," Evan Lorne had to admit he hadn't really been listening, because he'd been trying to figure out where they could get another Ancient warship so Sheppard would stop glaring at him like Evan had run over Sheppard's dog with the MALP.
"Excuse me, sir, but what did I do?" he asked, and Sheppard glared at Evan harder.
"You broke my space boat," Sheppard said darkly.
"You know, it sounds more impressive when you don't call it a space boat," McKay said from where he was sitting, apparently randomly to Evan's mind, in the corner of Sheppard's office. "You could call it, say, my enormous mid-life crisis penis-substitute Ancient warship."
Trying hard not to think about his CO's mid-life crisis penis-substitute Ancient warship, Evan winced and said, "McKay, what are you even doing here?"
"If you're going to be cooking for the entire expedition," McKay said smugly, "I thought it would be best to give you my list of dietary requirements in person."
"You broke my space boat," Sheppard said.
Evan put his head in his hands and tried not to weep.
The very next day -- his first day working in the kitchens -- Lorne hated, in order, the pale orange onions from MX6-78A, his CO, and his entire life. Onions on Earth were bad enough, but these were the sadistic, cold-hearted cousins of Earth onions. These were onions that could be used as torture devices, and he had to slice up a whole crate of them.
From the doorway, Zelenka said, "Punishment is not worth weeping over. Just today, Rodney called me a monkey's retarded uncle, but I did not weep. I simply told him, Běž do prdele, ty debile hlupáče, and that was that."
"It's not the kitchens," Evan said, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand and smearing bits of onion even closer to his eyes, which thoughtfully started watering even more. "It's the onions."
"Excuses, excuses," Zelenka says, sounding wicked and turning to leave. "Sheppard will forget about this shortly. Buck up. And do not blame the onions."
"I wasn't blaming the onions," Evan said. Zelenka made a rather fake concerned face, Evan gave him the finger, and somehow managed to fling a chunk of onion up his nose. When he tried to sneeze, he was almost positive that he actually inhaled the chunk of onion, but apparently not. He didn't know where the chunk of onion that he been up his nose ended up, and on his first day working in the kitchens, Evan couldn't really be bothered to care.
The only thing that made the day (and the week, and the month, and the next five months, as it turned out) not a total waste was discovering that one of the Marines that Evan had never paid much attention to had a massive collection of hair metal bands on his iPod.
Journey didn't eliminate Evan's horrific life angst, but it helped.
The third week of his second month working in the kitchen (they were listening to Springsteen that week), AR-3 brought five enormous carcasses back through the gate with them and after seven weeks, the kitchen was far preferable to catching up on Sheppard's paperwork, dead carcasses and all. (All Sheppard's paperwork was massively disorganized at best and totally full of lies at worst, and Evan spent two days inventing increasingly disturbing scenarios about why Sheppard's paperwork was full of lies, until he had to just put the paperwork down and do something else for fear of damaging his brain permanently with horrible images.)
Except that the things looked like someone had mated an antelope with a tiger, all horns and long legs and stripy fur, and they smelled vaguely rotten.
When Fitzpatrick and Cates hauled them into the kitchen and dropped them on the floor, even Dex, who'd been hanging around eating slices of American cheese that had come on the last Daedalus run every time Evan turned his back and who was also grossed out by almost nothing, took a couple of steps backward. "Ew," Evan said.
"Yeah," Dex said. "What he said."
Fitzpatrick shrugged. "The natives said they're good eating, despite the smell. Cates bagged two of them himself."
"Maybe you'd be better off ... stuffing them and mounting the heads," Evan said, prodding one with his boot. Cates sniffed sulkily. "Okay, okay. I'm just not much for -- making up recipes."
Lt. Smith, who was in charge of the mess and enjoyed bossing Evan around far too much, marched in, took one good sniff of the dead tigerlopes, and said, "Jesus Christ, get those things out of my kitchen, now."
Fitzpatrick said, "I thought we could have ribs. The people on M7R said they're good over open fire."
Evan bit his tongue to keep from saying, Does it look like we have open fire around here?
Luckily, Smith said it for him. Fitzpatrick glared. Dex, his face wrinkled up against the smell, said, "I'd eat ribs."
"He'd eat ribs," Evan said to Smith, because the longer he had to smell the tigerlopes, the crankier he got.
"I guess everybody would eat ribs," Smith said, sounding dubious. "The natives really said that these things aren't, you know, rotten?"
"Yep," Fitzpatrick said.
"Well, okay," Smith said.
Evan had to hack the tigerlopes up; he didn't really know how to make ribs out of anything, but he at least knew where the ribs were, and the knife that Dex pulled out of his hair when Smith ordered Evan to disembowel the things scared Evan a little, so he did it himself. He ended up covered in tigerlope guts and smelling like rotten flesh, but once Smith tossed the slabs of ribs under a couple bottles of barbeque sauce he'd apparently been hoarding for exactly the right alien flesh and shoved them in the enormous Ancient oven, the stuff smelled pretty good.
When he was done in the kitchens, and after two showers, he still smelled like rotten tigerlopes but the ribs tasted pretty good, too.
And then Colonel Sheppard started throwing up.
Which was pretty gross, in general, but especially gross because for one thing, he was sitting next to Evan, and for another, the ribs smelled even worse coming back up than they did before they'd been coated in barbeque sauce.
Also, Evan was almost 100% positive who was going to get blamed for this, and he was almost 100% positive it wasn't Smith.
It turned out that Sheppard had some sort of allergy, maybe related to his natural ATA gene, to some hormone that was in the tigerlopes, but he barfed for a day and a half before Beckett isolated what was causing the problem and started a course of drugs to neutralize the hormone's affect on Sheppard.
Sheppard was the only one who got sick, and he spent four days hooked up to IVs in the infirmary, rehydrating, before he was steady enough on his feet to get out of bed and come down to the kitchens to scream at Evan.
McKay had already been by to yell at Evan, and brandish his list of dietary restrictions in Evan's face, complete with a fresh entry that said "DO NOT EVER FEED COLONEL SHEPPARD ALIEN MEATS THAT SMELL ROTTEN, OR SO HELP ME, YOU'LL BE SORRY."
Evan had backed up until he was pressed against the walk-in freezer, put his hands up, and said, "Hey, man, I didn't decide to cook the damn things. I thought they should be stuffed and mounted."
McKay had glared and tacked six copies of the list to various surfaces before he stomped out.
Sheppard stopped by five days after the unfortunate tigerlope incident, as Evan was calling it in his head, wearing scrub pants and a black t-shirt and leaning against the doorframe with a groan. "Lorne," he said.
Evan was loading the Ancient dishwasher, and said, "Yes, sir," without turning around. If Sheppard wanted to punch him, he was going to have to work at getting a clear shot at Evan's face.
"Check all the meat that comes in with the scientists from now on," Sheppard said.
"Yes, sir," Evan said.
"McKay already been by?"
"Then I'll save the lecture and the six more months of KP for giving your CO food poisoning," Sheppard drawled. "McKay's got to have been bad enough."
Evan said, "Yes, sir," but when he turned around, Sheppard was gone.
The trouble with Atlantis was that there was no good way to arrange a nice dinner date with someone you might want to have sex with without the entire city finding out, mostly because Smith ran the mess with such an iron fist that you had to go through him to get anything arranged, and in addition to being a real jerk about who got to eat what when, he was also a horrible gossip.
Evan found this out the hard way when he wanted to have a nice, private dinner for two with one of the social scientists in his quarters, and two hours after he asked Smith for help -- and Smith snickered at him for two minutes before agreeing, smarmily, to help -- Sheppard was ribbing Evan about the date in the locker room.
So when Smith was on break and Dr. Weir walked into the kitchens with a determined look on her face, Evan swore to himself that he wasn't going to tell anyone what she was doing.
"Major Lorne," she said.
"Ma'am," he said, nodding. He was up to his elbows in ground beef from MA8, because Smith thought they could make tacos out of it. "What can I do for you?"
"Tacos tonight?" she said, and Evan nodded. "I'd like to have a private dinner with someone tonight, if that's possible."
"Sure is, ma'am," Evan said. What he thought, on the other hand, was, Dr. Weir's dating? Hot damn! I wonder who the lucky bastard is.
"It's a business dinner," she said, which, translated into Atlantis shorthand, Evan knew actually meant, it's a hot date with someone I shouldn't be dating.
At the time, at least, that's what he thought it meant. He arranged a table away from the rest of the tables in the mess and put a sign on it that said "Reserved for Dr. Elizabeth Weir". He found something that looked a little like a vase and that he hoped wasn't going to explode if he put flowers in it, and put a handful of Athosian flowers stolen from the botany labs in it. He traded Teyla 50 cheese slices that he hoped Smith wouldn't miss (and he didn't know what Teyla wanted with 50 slices of American cheese, because she didn't even like American cheese) for one of her meditation candles and set it on the table by the flowers.
There was no good way to make tacos romantic, but Evan found some small bowls in one of the cabinets they didn't use very often and put all the toppings for the tacos in those, and set them on the table.
He was pretty pleased with himself when the taco meat was finished cooking, and he lurked in the doorway of the kitchens, looking out into the mess, to see when Dr. Weir walked in.
She was right on time, with ... Dr. McKay next to her, talking animatedly and waving his hands around like he always did when he was excited about things. Dr. Weir scanned the room, noticed the table set away with the sign on it, and headed toward it, but McKay was trailing her as she walked, and the closer they got to the table, the slower they both walked. Evan ducked further back in the doorway and tried not to feel completely appalled that Dr. Weir was going on a date with Dr. McKay.
Dr. Weir walked right up to the table, looked at the sign, and glanced back at McKay, who'd frozen in place with shock written all over his face.
"Rodney?" Dr. Weir said.
"Ah, Elizabeth," McKay said. "I didn't know you felt -- you're a good boss, I like you a great deal, but I'm not -- I mean. I don't want to date you."
Dr. Weir's face was amused. "And I don't want to date you, either, Rodney," she said. "I think that the kitchen staff must have, ah, misunderstood my request."
"Are there still tacos?" McKay said, and Evan wanted to crawl in a hole and die.
"There are still tacos," Dr. Weir confirmed.
Everyone in the mess was staring at Dr. Weir and McKay, and when Evan scanned the faces of the people already there eating MA8 tacos, they were almost all trying to hide total amusement.
"Well, I guess there's no harm in mood lighting for tacos," McKay said, finally moving forward and dropping down into a chair without pulling Dr. Weir's chair out for her.
Smith snuck up behind Evan and said, "Well, now you've made a tremendous mess," which made Evan jump straight up in the air and turn around to glare.
"She said private business meeting!" he said.
"When anyone other than Dr. Weir says it, it's a date," Smith smirked. "When she says it, she means it."
"No one told me!" Evan protested.
Smith snickered. "You're not going to live this one down, sir, if you don't mind my saying so."
"I mind your very existence," Evan said, and stomped back to the kitchens to sulk.
His peace and quiet didn't last long; by the next morning, everyone in the city knew that Evan had accidentally set Dr. Weir and Dr. McKay up on a date, and the number of people who came through the kitchens to tease him about it.
McKay was the worst. "If you set me up on another date I don't know about," he said, "so help me God, you'll regret it."
Evan tried to climb inside the Ancient dishwasher and kill himself in shame, but he couldn't get the door closed once he was inside. Which, as it turned out later, was probably for the best.
They didn't think the Ancient dishwasher actually used water, so during his fourth month of KP, Evan was surprised when it burped a cloud of soapsuds out of its top, made a creepy rumbling noise, and then started spewing soap, grease, bits of regurgitated pale orange onions, and lots and lots of water all over the floor.
Evan said, as loud as he could, "Oh, shit," and hit the button that theoretically turned the thing off. Nothing happened, so he said, "Oh, shit," again, louder this time.
Smith came out of the freezers, stepped ankle-deep into greasy, soapy water, and fell over. He said, "Oh, shit," and then, "Sir, can you do something about this?" as he tried to struggle back to his feet. He only succeeded in falling over again.
"Call McKay," Evan said.
"You call McKay," Smith spat, crawling to his hands and knees.
"Oh, right," Evan said, and tapped his radio. "Dr. McKay? We're having a bit of a problem with the dishwasher in the kitchens."
McKay's voice, tinny and distant, said, "What do I look like, a plumber? It can wait, Major."
"Uh," Evan said, trying to shove soap back into the dishwasher with his hands. "It really can't, not if you want to eat dinner."
"You have no sense of humor, Major," McKay snapped, and then the comm channel disconnected and Evan had no idea what McKay was talking about, because at that point, the water was nearly up to his knees and starting to pour out of the kitchen into the mess, and the threat of no dinner wasn't an idle threat at all.
Evan heard McKay before he saw him, bitching and moaning at someone who may or may not actually have been with him (the thing about the comms was that people could be talking to themselves when they were really talking to someone across the city), and when McKay got to the doorway of the kitchens -- the sloshing noises and the loud groaning preceded his immediate entrance -- he wasn't alone.
McKay said, "Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, Major, what the hell did you do?"
Sheppard, just behind McKay, said, "Whoa, awesome," and then ran straight into McKay's back, knocking McKay face-first into the still churning, getting-deeper-by-the-minute, soapy water.
McKay came up spluttering, soap suds clinging to his hair and his chin, and he was screaming at Sheppard before he even got his face out of the water. Sheppard looked down, amusement all over his face, and drawled, "Sorry, McKay, shoulda kept moving."
McKay made a horrified noise and scrambled to his feet by scaling Sheppard like a tree, leaving Sheppard as wet as McKay, although McKay looked like an angry cat when he was soaking wet and Sheppard just looked amused.
Evan kept trying to stuff the soap suds back into the dishwasher, with less and less success, and hated everyone in the entire city, and the Ancients, and the people who made Cascade dishwashing detergent, just for good measure, even though there hadn't even been soap in the Ancient machine.
McKay made the cascade of water, soap and grease stop with the push of one button, and Sheppard stood knee deep in the water while Evan and Smith started bailing out into what passed for Ancient sinks. Sheppard said, "Major, you're not having a very good ... month, are you?"
"Sir," Evan said, "pardon my saying so, but I'm not having a very good life at this point."
"Oh, my God," McKay said. "Major, can you turn this horrible racket off? I'm too old to be reliving my youth through Bon Jovi, and so are you."
Evan paused the iPod blaring "You Give Love A Bad Name" and thought about how long it would take to drown himself in two feet of water.
It took McKay four hours to empty the dishwasher -- because he refused to let Evan or Smith touch anything, just in case the flood started again -- and when he finally got it emptied out, he found the problem in thirty seconds: a twisted, mangled fork jammed inside the machine in a place it shouldn't be jammed.
He held it up, shaking it ominously in Evan's face, and said, "I don't know why you didn't call one of the engineers for this. My brain is wasted on retrieving silverware from Ancient technology."
"Uh," Evan said, because he didn't want to say, okay, so I panicked, so what? "You were the first person I thought of."
"Clearly you've had at least one thought in your life, then," McKay snapped. "Next time, try and have a few more and call the appropriate peon to handle this kind of thing for you."
McKay tossed the fork into one of the remaining soapy puddles and stomped out of kitchens. Sheppard, who'd spent the whole four hours McKay was rooting through the dirty dishes sitting on a counter, swinging his legs and saying things that were designed to make McKay's face get red and turn furious, shrugged at Evan and ambled out behind McKay.
"I didn't think it had water in it," Smith said sadly.
"I hate this galaxy so much," Evan said.
It took him three hours to wash all the greasy dishes by hand.
His fifth month of KP, Evan was melting Velveeta over a Bunsen burner that Zelenka had liberated for him from the labs. Dex, who had developed a creepy fondness for disgusting cheese-food products from Earth, wandered in the kitchens of the mess. (Evan had asked Smith once why he didn't throw Dex out like he threw everyone else out. Smith looked frightened and retreated to the enormous Ancient walk-in freezer and stayed there for an hour. Evan didn't ask again.)
"What are you doing?" Dex asked.
"Melting Velveeta," Evan said.
"What's Velveeta? Is it cheese?"
Evan said, "It's sort of like cheese."
"Well," Dex said. "Can I eat it?"
"It's edible, I guess, under your definitions of edible," Evan said.
"Can I have that?"
"No," Evan said. "I'm making fondue for a Mexican astronomer."
Which was true, but not something that Evan had ever thought he'd have to say.
Evan's sixth month in the kitchens was surprisingly, happily uneventful. No one got food poisoning. No one flooded the entire mess by jamming a fork in the dishwasher. No one accidentally went on a date with someone they didn't want to go on a date with.
He cooked, he chopped horrible onions, he washed dishes by hand because Smith had developed a terrible fear of the dishwasher exploding and killing him with flying shards of dishes and alien space meat.
He kept waiting for something to happen, and on the last day of his sixth month, when he looked up to see Sheppard leaning in the doorway while Evan was washing the last of the dinner dishes, he was sure it had and he'd just missed it.
"So," Sheppard said, not moving from the doorway. "You learn your lesson?"
"Yes, sir," Evan said. "I'll never break your space boat again."
Sheppard glared. "My Ancient warship," he muttered.
"Whatever you say, sir," Evan said.
"Active duty starting tomorrow," Sheppard said. "You've got a briefing with AR-2 at 0900. Jensen will be heading up AR-5 after this."
"Thank you, sir," Evan said.
"My paperwork's still not caught up," Sheppard said. "But I guess we'll let that slide this time."
"Thank you, sir," Evan said.
"Stay out of trouble, Major," Sheppard said.
Evan said, "I try, sir." Smith snickered again. Sheppard rolled his eyes, pushed off from the doorframe, and disappeared.
The fork Evan threw at the now-empty door bounced off the wall, rebounded, and hit him square in the face.
"I hate this galaxy," he said to Smith.
"Join the club," Smith said, trying to wrestle an alien carcass of some variety out of the freezer to thaw in the sinks. He misjudged the weight and toppled over, dead alien meat on top of him. "Argh," said Smith. "Fuck this galaxy."
Evan said, "Amen."
He thought, It couldn't get worse than this, right?
author's notes: title from dramarama, "work for food". this story is all pru's fault, in that good sort of way, because she enabled and brainstormed and kept reminding me i wanted to write it. maggie betaed; all remaining mistakes are mine. ln provided the czech. the line "i'm making fondue for a mexican astronomer" is shamelessly lifted from my favorite episode of spin city. lorne's notable absence in the first half of S3 is most likely due to kavan smith needing to film the 4400 at the same time they were filming these sg:a eps, but isn't it funnier to think that sheppard took lorne off his gate team and gave him six months of kp for breaking the orion?
my otp has made lorne an ipod playlist for surviving kp, which you should all go download and tell her awesome she is: i've never met a tigerlope i didn't like.
this one's for the axis, extended. ♥