scherryzade: (lorne being awesome)
[personal profile] scherryzade
Title: Out of Mind, pt1
Rating: PG
Characters: Lorne/Cadman, various SGA & SG-1 characters (with other possible pairings)
Disclaimer: Not mine (except the mistakes), no harm meant.
Summary: Laura usually works alone. And at every turn of this job, she's remembering why.
A/N: Written for the [livejournal.com profile] major_explosion AU challenge, for [livejournal.com profile] amathela's prompt: Heist AU. "Be specific but not memorable, be funny but don't make him laugh. He's got to like you then forget you the moment you've left his side." I couldn't resist - I love, love, love that scene in Ocean's 11. It always reminds me of the kind of advice people give you for job interviews.
A/N2: The whole thing's grown into this epic AU 'verse, the details of which I cannot reveal for fear of spoilers, and which has large chunks relating to neither Evan nor Laura, so this is this is the start of their story, but not necessarily the whole story.
A/N3: Notice how I'm trying to make that sound intentional? November was - complicated. Fic helps, but only if I actually have time to write it :/
A/N4: Any similarity between Laura and Leverage's Parker is entirely coincidental. Oh, wait, no it isn't.

Out of Mind

This isn't the way Laura usually works. Laura is all about the night-vision goggles and the crawling through impossibly narrow air ducts and the not walking up to the security desk with fake id and a beige pantsuit.

This should be Vala's job. Laura's worked with Vala before, and, little as she trusts her, Laura knows she can switch from sex kitten to executive secretary with little more than a change of earrings.

But they've already used up Vala on Sheppard, and getting to him meant getting into last night's party. It also meant Vala had to be memorable. The security teams won't have forgotten her.

It's not the way Taylor usually works, either. Not by reputation, anyway. The plan was to go in tonight, the way Laura likes, the way she expected, but something's spooked Taylor, and the plan has changed.

Vala would have relished the challenge, but Laura -

It's not that Laura can't lie. She's good at lying. Her record is a lot shorter than it would be otherwise. It's just that she can't act - she can't slip into a character the way Vala does. So Laura may be able to hoodwink the security guys at the front desk, and flash her fake ID without blinking an eye, but it's still Laura who steps into the elevator. She may be wearing Dr Susan Harman's  glasses and her practical yet feminine shoes, but it's still Laura who bumps into Sheppard's head of security on the fifteenth floor.

"You look down, they know you're lying and up, they know you don't know the truth. Don't use seven words-"

"...when four will do. I've seen that movie too, Vala."

"Please. I got that from my father years before that movie opened."

"Sure, Vala. So what is that I'm not, under any circumstances, to do?"

Vala beamed at her. "No-one knows."


And it wouldn't help her, anyway, because when she walks out of the elevator straight into Evan Lorne, he gives her a sceptical look and her mind goes completely blank.

"Are you supposed to be on this floor?" he asks, not unkindly, and she gapes at him for a moment.

"Yes!" she manages to squeak out, and Lorne's scepticism deepens. "I have a - thing. Package! For Dr McKay. Very important stuff. Parts! For - equipment?"

Even casual surveillance reveals that the name of Sheppard's head of R&D strikes terror into the heart of all the company's employees. So when Laura says, "For Dr McKay," she expects it to be her trump card.

But instead of flinching at the name, Lorne's mouth just quirks a little as if he's suppressing a smile.

"Dr McKay wants it ASAP," she manages to say, more firmly, and rolls her eyes to emphasis their mutual disrespect for Dr McKay's apparent implacability.

To her relief, he buys it, and says, "Well, you better get going, then," stepping back to let her pass. She gives him a grateful and suitably longsuffering look, and starts down the corridor.

"Good luck," he calls after her, voice rich with irony, and she can't help but grin.

Then, stupidly, she looks back, and realises he's watching her.

There's this split second where her grin holds, and then she sees his almost-smile vanish, replaced by an altogether more focussed expression. She keeps her own expression neutral as she turns away, and tries to quicken her pace as discretely as possible.

She's almost at the door when she hears his footsteps behind her. She fumbles the passkey, and by the time she's gotten the damn thing the right way round, he's reached her, and stops her, his hand on the door handle.

She schools her expression to stay calm, and raises an eyebrow. To her surprise, he looks almost embarrassed, and he lets go of the door before saying:

"Look, I, uh, know this isn't entirely appropriate, but - could I buy you a drink some time?"

She can feel herself blush, and ducks her head, embarrassed at herself. When she looks up, he's beginning to smile, and God help her, is that a hint of a dimple - I am so screwed.

That's when the lights go out.

There's a brief mutter of exasperated Czech in her ear, quickly cut off. "Shit," she says, and Lorne puts a reassuring hand on her arm.

"It's okay," he says, and taps the radio at his ear. "Stacks, can I get a report on the power outage on fifteen?" He's still smiling at her, but the smile slips as he realises what she's known since the power went - his radio isn't working.

Her own buzzes as Taylor says, "We have had to bring the plan forward. Laura, you are in position?"

She pretends to push her hair back and taps her radio to let Taylor know she can't talk. With her other hand, she slips a sedative from one of her pockets.

Lorne's turned away from her, trying to raise his security team, all traces of his smile gone. She blurts out, "I'm really sorry about this," and he turns to her with a quizzical expression that she doesn't think is cute, dammit, any more than she's endeared by the way his brow wrinkles in confusion as the sedative kicks in.

"Laura?" buzzes Taylor in her ear.

"Okay, okay." Laura finds herself mouthing an apologetic 'Sorry' at Lorne as she pulls his hands behind his back and secures them with a cable tie. "I'm ready."

If she risks a glance behind her as she slips through the door, it's only to check that he's really out cold.

~

"That's her."

"You're sure?" The detective isn't hiding his contempt. He probably sees Evan as a glorified security guard, and a lousy one at that, who got himself sedated by a woman he should have known wasn't who her ID said she was. After the power was cut. After his radio stopped working.

"I'm sure." Sedative or no sedative, he's not going to forget that woman any time soon.

"Her name's Laura Cadman," says the cop, tapping the photograph. Blonde hair, falling loose onto her shoulders. "She's a known felon - done a little time, skipped a little bail." Even in her mugshot, Evan can see her smile lighting up her eyes. "Been off our radar for a couple of years now, but she has ties to people here. We'll find her."

Evan only has to see the bland expression on Sheppard's face to know that John intends to find her before the cops.

Evan's not so sure why he knows he has to find her before Sheppard.

~

"This is not what you said we were going in for." Laura isn't yelling, but she's pretty damn close.

"It does not matter. We were misinformed as to the contents of the safe, and now we have a different product to sell."

"Yeah. We have harddrives instead of diamonds. There's a difference." It's just her against Taylor - even Vala's backed off, and Taylor's pet geek Radek is cowering behind his laptop, pretending to be engrossed in the contents of said harddrives.

"The contents of those drives are worth more than the Sheppard family jewels."

"So why didn't we go after them in the first place? Oh, that's right, because they're traceable. They're only worth something if you know where they came from."

"I know someone very discreet. The files will not be traced to us-" What really pisses Laura off is how calm Taylor is.

"Right, except it doesn't matter whether they're traceable or not, because I had to take out Sheppard's head of security when you brought your plan -" Laura spits out the word "- forward. Jesus Christ, Taylor, of course it makes a difference. You need to find a buyer, make a deal. It takes time. Meanwhile, I've been ID-ed. I have a record. I have a record here. I need to leave now, not in three weeks time after a little light corporate espionage."

"As I said, I know a gentleman-"

"Oh, sure. You know a guy."

"I am sorry, Laura, but you will have to trust me. You will get your money before the week is out."

"Yeah, but it's Tuesday, and she's right," says Vala, finally weighing in, even if she keeps her distance. "Three days is long enough for even the dumbest cops to find her. Or me," she adds, with a moue at her sudden realisation that she, too, will have been recognised. The difference is, Vala isn't a local. This is the first time she's screwed up in this town. It's far from the first time Laura has.

"Then you will have to be discrete, yourself," says Taylor, and she may be hard to read, but there's something in the arch of Taylor's eyebrow that tells Laura to back off.

"Fine. I'll wait." And hope to hell no-one recognises her.

Taylor nods, an oddly formal gesture to end an argument with, and turns away. Laura watches her walk away, and glares at Radek as he bundles up the harddrives. He only shoots her a quick, apologetic glance before he scurries after Taylor, and Laura's left with Vala.

"You have somewhere to go?" Laura asks, and Vala waggles her phone.

"I have elsewheres I can be. You?"

"Yeah." Well, sort of.

~

The cops find the warehouse the criminals were using as their base - empty, scrubbed clean, even the cabling ripped out. They'd probably stripped the place before Cadman had left the Sheppard building.

But Ronon knows a guy who knows a guy, which is how Evan finds himself slouching in his car outside an unconvincingly Irish-themed bar, waiting for a woman he almost hopes won't turn up.

"You told Sheppard about this?" Ronon doesn't bother answering that, just shrugs an expressive shoulder. Right. Results, not possibilities, that's what they should bring to Sheppard. That, and Evan's still hoping John'll have calmed down by the time they find Laura Cadman.

Ronon nudges him, nodding across the street to where a slim figure approaches. She doesn't move like someone on the run from the law, her head held high, pace unhurried. Her hair is starting to twist out from a loose knot at her nape, not that this, Evan scolds himself, is relevant.

Cadman stops at the door of the bar, but doesn't look around. She waits a moment, for the first time looking uncertain, then sets her chin and pushes into the bar. Ronon opens his door to follow her. "No, wait - I'll go."

Evan ignores the pointed look Ronon gives him, and says, "You go in, and they'll all be watching you. Doesn't matter if they know who you are or not, they'll see you as a threat."

"You go in, they'll all think you're a cop."

"Well, yeah. Not a threat."

~

The bar is much as she remembers it, haphazardly decorated, dark and welcoming - to her, if maybe not to others. It's quiet, too early for all but a few hardened drinkers, and the bartender doesn't notice her. She ducks her head to read the title of the book he's buried in.

"Quetzalcoatl, Danny? What happened to Egypt?"

Daniel stares at her, and she laughs at his astonished expression. "Laura? What on Earth are you doing here?"

"Did ya miss me?"

"Of course we missed you, but Laura -"

"Is himself in?"

"Not yet. He should be, but apparently the fish were biting, so..." Daniel sighes, put-upon. "I can't tell if that's a good thing or not." He gives her a rueful smile when she grins at that, and raises a finger when she tries to speak. "Okay. Two things. One, what are you drinking? Don't tell me, I don't want to know. I have a new Weißbier from Weihenstephan I want you to try -"

"Shouldn't you be serving Guinness?"

Daniel scowls at her. "Don't make me throw you out, Laura. Two," he continues before she can protest, "what's wrong?"

"Weihenstephan, huh? That sounds, mm-mm, tasty and nutritious."

"Laura -" Daniel breaks off, gaze flicking to an approaching customer. That's all the warning she gets before she feels the too-familiar cold of handcuffs against her wrist.

She tries to spin away, but she's too late. And when she spins back to strike her assailant, he's ready for her, catching her free hand in his. It's Lorne, mouth quirking in that same panic-inducing half-smile.

"How about I buy you that drink?"


TBC
 

A/NUmpteen: It's quite possible that this 'verse (but not this story, don't worry - yet) includes a not-as-wheelchair-bound-as-he-lets-on Cam Mitchell who spends his nights fighting crime. Someone stop me, please.
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