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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:50 am 
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21st October 2014, 17:45

"Come on up, it's open," Claire answered down the intercom, the smile firmly fixed in place. She really ought to get Caleb a keycard for the front door, and a key for her apartment. Sure, they had only been together for about a month, but it felt as though Caleb was spending more time at her apartment than in his own quarters, especially since she had been able to align her schedule with his the previous week.

Things between them felt settled and secure, and Claire had found any doubts she had had about Caleb rapidly receding. She was falling for him, hook, line and sinker, and wouldn't have it any other way.

She headed back to the kitchen, chopping the rest of the vegetables for the stir fry she was preparing. The wok was ready to go, a fragrant mix of sesame and garlic oils mingling in the bottom of the pan, waiting to be warmed up and receive the tender chunks of pork that were sat marinading in a dish of soy sauce, ginger, garlic and lemongrass.

She heard the door click open, and called out to Caleb. "Lock it behind you - I'm in the kitchen. There's a cold beer with your name on it in the fridge, if you want it."


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:06 am 
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Caleb felt his stomach twist as he stepped into the apartment, half from the absolutely delicious smells coming from the kitchen and the other half coming from what he had to say to Claire. Stepping around the door, he did as she said, locked it behind him and leant against it for a brief second, two days it had been since he'd been in the Doctor's office offering up blood samples for the trip out to Atlantis. Which he had been told repeatedly was a one way trip, two days that he hadn't said a word about it to Claire, mainly because he hadn't wanted to have the conversation on base despite the security clearance etc.

He wanted to tell her what he had decided, the excitement that bubbled inside of him at the thought of being able to go to a different galaxy and see what he hoped was the most amazing things imaginable. It was scary excitement, and he wanted to share that with Claire, so when she suggested she'd cook for them, he snapped the offer up. He had begun to really enjoy her cooking, it was something to be treasured and enjoyed.

Pushing away from the door, he stepped into the kitchen, stepped right up to her wrapped his arms around her middle and dropped a few kisses onto her neck. It wasn't something he did often, mainly because they never ended up eating if he carried on, but it was something that had become more natural as the relationship progressed. At the end of most of his days all he wanted was to hold her in his arms for a moment or two, something that had become more prominent ever since the mission to Tollana several weeks ago now.

He let go of her, “In the fridge you say, with my name on it as well,” he said stepping back, “You know me too well, sweetheart, too well.”

He took advantage of the fact there was alcohol to hand, he took a bottle opened it and although he took a swig from the bottle, it was the only one he did take. Although one bottle wasn't going to get him drunk – it took much more to have him staggering home – he didn't want alcohol in his system for this.

Leaning against the side, he asked, “How was your day today?” Not something he ever really asked, but he had to open the conversation with something right.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:27 pm 
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Unable to wipe the smile from her face - not that she wanted to - Claire giggled as Caleb's arms snaked around her waist, and he dotted several kisses along her neck and jawline. "Mmmm... and hello to you too," she grinned, resisting the urge to turn in his arms and greet him properly. She'd never get dinner cooked if she did that. There was plenty of time for that later.

Claire relaxed back against Caleb for a few moments, feeling as though she'd come home. The past five years of being alone all suddenly felt worth it. If this was what she got for waiting to test the dating waters again, it made it all completely worthwhile. The last few weeks had seen them developing a deep, warm bond that she couldn't remember having had with anyone else before, and their friendship reached new depths as well. Even if things went tits up - and Claire sincerely hoped they didn't - she had no doubt they could come out the other side with their friendship intact.

Feeling an unwelcome chill as Caleb headed for the fridge, Claire glanced across, giving him a warm, easy smile as he popped the cap and took a swig. She frowned lightly as he asked her how her day had been, something he had never done before.

"It was quiet," she admitted. "The usual pre- and post-missions checkups, no emergencies. I was able to catch up with paperwork, tidied the office, you know, all the mundane shit I don't get to do when people start coming through the gate in bits." She shot Caleb a quizzical look, wondering where this conversation was headed, before firing up the burner under the wok. "You? Had any spectacular adventures today?"


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:23 pm 
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"Nobody in bits, that's always a good sign," he replied smiling lightly at that. It was always nice to know that the other people on base were not landing in too much trouble. Of course he hadn't sent any of the guys he'd been working with that day to the infirmary, he wondered vaguely if when it was quiet like that if it got boring. If there was one time in any Doctor's life where they literally had nothing to do.

"If I'd known you'd been quiet, I would have paid a visit, am sure there was something there that needed my expertise." It was a show of flirtatiousness, although it didn't feel right, it came off kind of flat. He wanted things be as normal as they had been for a while, to come back to this apartment and have a laugh, a joke, a flirt with Claire, but he couldn't. Not then.

Sighing he said, "Same old, same old with us, although speaking of adventures..." he paused for a moment, wondering whether to just burst right out and say it. Instead he chose the more cautionary path. "Have you heard the rumours circling about this trip to Atlantis that's going round? People are getting tested by Doctor Beckett, that kind of thing?"


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:41 pm 
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Claire tossed the onions and garlic into the hot oil giving the wok a shake to get things cooking. The smell of frying onions always made her kitchen smell like home to her. There was just something evocative about that scent that comforted her. "I hope you're hungry," she remarked. "I think I'm about to cook enough to feed half the SGC!" She always overcatered, but this time, she had outdone herself. She had had vegetables that needed using, so she decided she might as well cook them all up.

Casually throwing the pork in with the sizzling onions, Claire turned and grinned at Caleb. "A visit would have been a distraction, that's for sure," she replied, her eyes sparkling. "Remind me to give you a yell next time I get a slow day like that." It would have probably been the worst idea in a history of bad ideas, in fact, but it would doubtless have been fun.

Still, something niggled at Claire. Caleb's mood seemed a little flat, the flirting a little strained, almost as though he was winding up to tell her something that he was struggling with.

It didn't take him long to get around to things, though, and Claire focused on her cooking for a few moments, a cold ball of dread settling in her chest as he mentioned Atlantis.

Atlantis...

It was a subject that she had been largely avoiding and ignoring for over three weeks now, since just before she and Caleb had gotten together. Carson Beckett had approached her and offered her the position of his deputy in the Lost City of the Ancients, and she had avoided giving him an answer until now, almost in the hope that he would forget making the offer, or find a better candidate, therefore taking the decision out of her hands.

"They're more than rumours, e te tau," she murmured, tossing in the peppers, shaking the wok again. "The expedition leaves in three weeks." She avoided looking at Caleb, afraid of what was coming.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:51 pm 
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"Right of course, more than just rumours," he said, giving a half smile. Not that she would see as she had turned away from him, to go back to the food, which was smelling better and better by the minute. His stomach gave a small grumble, despite what he wanted to tell her he couldn't deny that he was actually quite hungry, although whether the dinner was going to end up in him or over his head he wasn't sure yet.

He took another deep breath, both hands placed on the counter as he leant back against it, he looked up at the ceiling for a moment. Part of him wanted for her to turn around to face him whilst he tried to get this out, the other part of him was glad she was turned away because he was so nervous over what her reply was going to be. He took a moment to think back over there relationship the past few weeks, it had been a whirlwind of every emotion he could think of and there was no doubt in his mind, not one shred of doubt that he didn't want to be with her all the time. A thought that made him shiver almost audibly in the small kitchen, because that thought, that one strand of consciousness made him more scared than he had ever been.

"Claire," he started, staring at her back, his voice almost a whisper. "two days ago, I went for the tests to see if I have that Ancient Gene thing they all keep going on about, I was offered a place on the expedition."

That is it, it is out there now, he thought. He wasn't feeling so hungry any more, he was feeling sick, he could feel his hands sweaty against the side and he was pretty sure if he looked in a mirror he would be twice as pale as normal.

"I haven't given my final answer yet, I wanted to talk to you first," he said quietly, although he wasn't sure how much of a softening the blow that would come to her. He'd held this in for two days now, he wasn't sure that would be forgotten any time soon, although hey at least it wasn't him coming clean about sleeping with someone else.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 7:40 pm 
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The tone of Caleb's voice held a weight and a seriousness that Claire wasn't used to hearing, and she was almost afraid to turn around and face him. Instead, she chose to concentrate on the food, at least for a minute. It felt as though Caleb was about to drop one of those bombshells that could only do one of two things: shatter a relationship or strengthen it. She wondered which one it would be.

He paused again, and Claire glanced at him, her expression somewhat pained. "Caleb... just spit it out, whatever it is," she said, her voice soft and wary.

And he did.

She swallowed deeply, tossing the mushrooms into the wok without really noticing what she was doing. If she focused on the cooking, maybe Caleb wouldn't say what she was afraid he was going to say. But of course, that didn't work.

"Oh," she said, the only thing that she could articulate. Of course, she, too, had been offered a place, but she had been doing everything she could to avoid making a decision. She had so much here on earth, and couldn't really think of a good reason to leave her family, her whānau, her heritage.

Until now.

She gave the food a stir. It didn't smell as appetising any more, not to her. "I... ummm... congratulations," she replied, her voice quiet and small. "I know they're looking for people with strong instances of the gene. Looks like you hit the genetic jackpot." She tried on a smile as she turned to look at Caleb, but wasn't surprised to find that it didn't quite fit.

"What do you want to do?"


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 7:51 pm 
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"What do you want to do?"

What does he want to do now? He stared at her shocked for a moment or two, that was not the answer he had been expecting to get from her, nor was it the reaction he was expecting to get from her either. He had expected some kind of anger to cross her, some kind of fire to stir up in her, to demand what he had been thinking about without talking to her first. Not this kind of, acceptance of what he'd done. Maybe he was being silly, they were both grown ups for god sake, both friends and lovers and....and....friends he should know that this conversation could be held as a rational adult would hold it.

He saw that the smile she wore didn't quite reach her eyes, he wanted to reach out to comfort her to make that look go away in an instant, and he almost did reach out to her, his arm making an aborted gesture before he stopped himself. Caleb was sure that it would be worse for the both of them, if he tried to do such a thing. Instead he crossed his arms, almost hugging himself in the gesture.

"I want to go," he said, quietly, his eyes not quite concealing the excitement as he said that out loud. "You've seen what the teams bring back on a day to day bases, the new stuff to discover, the new people. Atlantis would be all of that rolled into one, it's a once in a life time opportunity, Claire..." he stopped again, his voice had been full of passion as he spoke, as though Christmas had come early.

"Claire, will you go with me to Atlantis?" That was the most serious question he had ever asked anyone, it was up there with a marriage proposal in his eyes, and his heart thumped against his chest so loudly as he asked that question he was surprised that she couldn't hear it across the room. Of course he wasn't sure if his heart kept beating like this if it wasn't going to give out on him at one point.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:38 pm 
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Caleb looked at her as though he hadn't expected her quiet question, and Claire sighed, swallowing back on anything else. What had he expected? Her to shout and scream? Or to beg him not to go? Of course she didn't want him to go, but if it was something that he wanted to do, who was she to stop him? The feelings she had for him were intense and all-encompassing, and she couldn't imagine her life without him now. But, if he wanted to go to Atlantis... she couldn't ask him to stay. That wouldn't be fair on him.

Claire turned off the burner, certain that dinner was the last thing on either of their minds now. Caleb stood there like a statue, his arms crossed over his chest, his expression stoic, and Claire wanted to kiss the tension away. She didn't know whether it would be welcome, though.

They stood on either side of her small kitchen, almost as though battle lines had been drawn between them, even though not a cross word had been said. Claire listened, swallowing back emotions she couldn't put a name to, as Caleb admitted he wanted to go.

He sounded like a little kid, excited about going on holiday, and Claire couldn't help but smile. She loved hearing Caleb talk passionately about things, even though this was something that was threatening to tear them apart.

"I understand," she murmured, her gaze holding a depth of sadness that Caleb probably hadn't seen before. They had barely been together a month, and, in that month, was happier than she had ever been. Claire should have known it wouldn't last. "Believe it or not, I'm happy for you." Her voice was choked with emotion. "I'm so proud of you, Caleb."

And then he dropped another bombshell.

Claire's jaw dropped as he asked her to go to Atlantis with him. There she was, having spent weeks trying to avoid making the decision, hoping to have it taken out of her hands by time and circumstance, and the man she had...

Admit it, you stupid bitch, you're in love with him.

...the man she had fallen in love with was asking her to go to a whole other galaxy to be with him. She couldn't quite meet his eyes. "I... I don't know," she admitted, finally giving in and going to stand next to him, letting herself lean against his solid warmth as if seeking comfort. "Carson asked me weeks ago, before we got together. He offered me the position as his deputy." She looked up, her eyes bleak. "I've not given him my answer yet. I... couldn't find good enough reasons to go." Claire gave Caleb a searingly honest look.

"Now... well, it looks as though I have some thinking to do, doesn't it?"


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:54 pm 
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Caleb wanted to plead with her, that he was a good enough reason to go to Atlantis, that if she went with him, they could quite literally explore another galaxy together. The rules wouldn't be as strict - he had heard it was going to be civilian run - they could have their relationship right out there in the open. Not that they hid it at the moment, but it was very much kept just between the two of them and he loved that he really did. But he was beginning to want to show the relationship off, to tell people in the Mess Hall that yeah the person sat across from him was someone he was going out with. That he was hers and she was his, that was what he wanted to do.

He was surprised to hear she had been asked about Atlantis weeks ago, he knew he had no right to be angry at that, hell he was sure that even if they hadn't gotten together they would be having a similar conversation to one now. Claire was his best friend, he would have rushed right over to tell her as soon as he'd got a spare five minutes back then, the reason it had taken him so long this time. Was his answer to the question that had been asked of him, he had been scared to admit it to himself that he wanted to go, he really wanted to go with every fibre of his being. He just didn't want to loose Claire in that process either.

When she said she was proud of him, he had to take a shaky breath, there was something heavy in his throat, that meant he couldn't reply straight away. His stomach tied up in knots, the smell of the dinner almost sickening as she came to stand next to him. He felt her warmth at his side, he slid down a little way so they were pretty much pressed shoulder to shoulder, normally that would have a thrill running up his spine at what would happen next. But that wasn't going to happen, not yet, but looking her in the eye, seeing a sadness in them something he hadn't seen before.

"I love you," he whispered, the words almost sounding as though he'd shout them in the small confines of the room. They also shocked him, he had, had the feeling bubbling away in his stomach for weeks now, one that had taken his breath away the first time he'd slept with her. The first time they went on a mission together as more than just friends. The times over the past few weeks, he had sought her out on their breaks so they could just talk, amongst other things.

It wasn't something he said lightly, it wasn't something he said to make her change her mind. The fact the very words were out there, were terrifying. He had needed to say them, whatever the outcome of this conversation whether Claire went to Atlantis or not, he had to say them, he had to make sure she knew how he felt before he left. He wasn't sure he would have been able to live with himself if he hadn't told her before.

He felt his hands shaking, as the words sank in, his face probably very pale now.


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