A Fine Tradition

by Domenika Marzione

The alarm for offworld gate activation and Elizabeth looked at her watch. Sheppard's team wouldn't be back so soon unless something had gone seriously wrong and she wasn't sure which of the other teams were out. Returning to her work, she kept one ear cocked for the discourse in the control room. Lieutenant Eriksson was on gateroom duty; he always blushed when she greeted him by name.

"Major Lorne's IDC, Sir."

"Let 'em in!"

Satisfied, she let herself concentrate on the weekly report from Chemistry, thoughtfully bullet-pointed and translated into layman's terms by Dr. Fleischer. The bulk of the work, no matter how dumbed down, was still above her level of comprehension, but Deborah had listed a group of drugs that they thought they could synthesize with the latest acquisitions from Botany and Geosciences. "NSAIDS" was boldfaced, with a parenthetical sublist of familiar-sounding names. The Daedalus brought whatever they needed in terms of medical care and maintenance, but in terms of the Pegasus galaxy's barter-based economy, a little naproxen would go a long way.

She'd initially balked at the notion of Atlantis becoming the galaxy's drug dealers, coming as the suggestion did not long after their first encounter with the Genii that had seen them trading explosives and nuclear capabalities for beans, but a combined front of Sheppard and Beckett had eventually prevailed. Medical knowledge as well as materials were their most valuable commodities apart from weapons and they did need to eat.

A few of the medical doctors were willing to go offworld -- or, rather, with the exception of Dr. Safir (who always volunteered) were unable to avoid being taken offworld -- to run clinics on friendly planets. The expedition's dentist, Dr. Klass, was in such high demand that he was forced to teach his physician colleagues the basics of tooth-pulling and oral hygiene. The running joke was that their lasting contribution to the Pegasus galaxy wasn't going to be the fight against the Wraith or the rise of Atlantis, but instead the introduction of dental floss.

The gate alarm ceased and the familiar sound of a wormhole closing and Elizabeth could hear the friendly commotion of a team being welcomed back. Lorne's unit had been gone overnight on a visit to a world they'd been trading with for more than a year. The Ipetians were thought to be distant kin of the Athosians and had welcomed Teyla's new friends with open arms and ovens full of bread. The trade had broadened on both sides and while no commerce had been expected on this journey, Elizabeth would be surprised if there had not been gifts sent and exchanged and full baskets returning with Lorne's men.

A chorus of "ooooh!" filled the gateroom, along with at least one call of "Go, Doc!"

"I will sew your lips shut, Reletti!"

Laughter, raucous and loud, filled the gateroom. If the gateroom too often resembled a tense drama on the return of Sheppard's team, it most often resembled a sitcom with Lorne's. Which was a welcome and necessary relief.

"Oh, come on, Doc! It was funny!"

More laughter.

"You will not see me coming," Safir's aggravated voice threatened, changing timbre as he moved through the gateroom. "I will be stealthy and carrying benzodiazepines. Your friends will recoil from you in horror!"

"And that'll be different from every other day how?" Another voice, followed by laughter.

"Grier, Ferdidi, Pence, and Martinez!" Eriksson called down from the control room, rather loudly to be heard over the din. "Pick those up and get them to the quartermaster's. O'Banion, help them out."

Elizabeth gave up the pretext of working. She didn't move from her seat -- any appearance of a reaction on her part to the gaiety would end it instantly -- but she did look up. Eriksson was standing on the control room's tiny balcony, hands on the railing, looking down. He stood up straight and turned as Lorne approached. Lorne grasped his forearm to tell him something quietly and pressed a large sack into his arms. Eriksson accepted it, nodded, and moved past him through the control room toward the stairs. Lorne proceeded toward her office and she folded her hands on her desk to await him.

He paused at her doorway for permission to enter -- a formality all the more precious because John only occasionally did and Rodney never -- and smiled broadly when she gestured him inside.

"Good trip?" she asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"Yeah," he agreed, gratefully accepting her offer to sit. "Yuenthea sends greetings and goodies."

"Is that what you were handing off to Lt. Eriksson?"

Lorne gave her a pained face, which only confirmed that the sack had contained some sort of container of booze. Lorne and Sheppard kept a close eye on alcohol within Atlantis, but officially it did not exist and as such, Elizabeth did not know about it. "After a fashion, Ma'am," he replied with a credible stab at solemnity.

As if remembering something, he opened up a pocket on his tactical vest and pulled out something wrapped in a dark cloth. "Speaking of..." he trailed off. Standing up, he handed it to her.

She unwrapped the cloth to find a large creta, the Ipetians's traditional dessert. It was a sort of baked berry dumpling, but far more exotically flavored than anything she'd had in America. There was something almost Balkan about the Ipetians' cuisine, actually, albeit for a much warmer climate.

"Yuenthea wanted to make sure you got one," he explained. "It wasn't in my vest for very long."

"I trust you," she said with a smile, folding the cloth over the pastry again. She'd eat it later because, most likely, she would not be at the commissary in time to get any from there. They were really very good.

"Everything's hunky-dory with the Ipetians," Lorne began, not sitting down again. "Yoni looked over some babies and pulled a few teeth, Reletti and Suarez and Ortilla helped fix a roof, and they really, really like those double-palm work gloves we brought last time. A lot."

Elizabeth laughed. "I'll put some more on our next request list."

The rest of Lorne's report was in the same vein -- good news, a little interplanetary gossip, and a rough list of what the Ipetians might want in the next set of trade talks. Elizabeth absorbed the information and released a slightly restless Lorne to go about his day.

"Go tend to our treats," she exhorted.

"And my team," he added with a wry frown. "I better go make sure Safir doesn't actually do anything."

"Should I not ask what happened?" Elizabeth understood, both as a woman and as a leader, that there was plenty she was better off not knowing about and alcohol was only the tip of the iceberg.

Lorne shrugged. "One of the Ipetian ladies has always been very fond of Yoni. She got sort of forward last night and he got embarrassed. The boys are just having fun, but Yoni's... Yoni's Yoni and he will take it personally if it goes too far."

Elizabeth nodded. She was sure there was much more to the story, but that's all she needed to hear. "No lip-sewing, Major. Make that a command decision from me if you have to."

Lorne chuckled. "Will do, Ma'am."

Elizabeth never did hear the full story, but it was a week before the gossip among the gateroom Marines surrounding Dr. Safir's "pulling a Colonel Sheppard" died down.

feed me on LJ?

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