Title: Adventures at Langford
Characters: Cassie Fraiser
Summary: This had to be the suckiest first day of Spring Break ever.
Author’s Note: Standard disclaimer stuff. SG-1 and SGA characters aren’t mine and never will be, I’m just taking them out for a spin.
Author’s Note 2: So my brother came home for Spring Break and told me about teaching a friend to drive, and somehow that resulted in this. Go figure. Feedback always much appreciated. Much much thanks to my ever wonderful beta, mizz_magenta, without whom this fic would suck big time! Any and all remaining problems with it are my fault.
This had to be the suckiest first day of Spring Break ever, Cassie Fraiser thought.
Okay, so there were probably worse starts to spring break, but this ranked right up there. And it had started so well.
Her mom had brought her to campus to take advantage of the mostly empty parking lots and start Cassie’s driving lessons. But no sooner had they arrived at the university than Janet’s cell phone had rung, and her mother had run off to deal with some mess or other at the clinic.
She dropped Cassie off at the university library along the way, telling her to find a book to read. “It shouldn’t take long. I’ll call you when I’m done and we can meet back at the parking lot. Just stay here and stay out of trouble,” Janet had added jokingly, ruffling Cassie’s hair.
Cassie had just smiled and nodded, not wanting to piss off the woman who controlled her access to car keys for the next six months, but inside she was annoyed. Hanging out at the university when it was full of cute college boys? Always fun. Hanging out there when almost everyone was gone for spring break? Not so much.
She’d tried to find a book to interest her, but she had a week’s freedom from school and really didn’t feel like reading. And so it was that nearly an hour after her mother had dropped her off, she found herself sitting at one of the long tables just inside the library’s front doors shooting rubber bands at a stack of thick sociology books.
She grinned victoriously as her rubber band missile connected with the book she’d been aiming for. She pulled another one from the small pile beside her and started to wrap it around her finger and thumb.
“Ahem.” The sound of a throat clearing made her look up, right into the stern face of one of the reference librarians.
“I think you might have more fun with your game outside,” the librarian said archly, gathering up the stack of books at the end of the table and sweeping aside the pile of rubber bands that surrounded it. “This is a place for research, not a playground”
Cassie sighed but didn’t protest. She’d known it would only last so long before she had to find something else to do, and it wasn’t like the university library was that much fun anyway.
Out front, she stood on the walkway for a moment and stared forlornly at the empty and quiet campus. There were a few students lounging on benches nearby, but to Cassie’s critical eye they appeared to be serious grad students toiling away at research.
Sam! The thought came to her out of the blue. Of all her mother’s friends, Dr. Samantha Carter was Cassie’s favorite. Sam never treated her like a stupid kid and was always willing to explain what she was working on. And, yeah, so sometimes it was way over her head and kinda boring, but a visit to Sam’s office would at least kill a little bit of time.
Grateful that her frequent visits meant she knew the campus layout better than most freshmen, Cassie began walking along the quiet but familiar pathways towards the science building.
The building was quiet, but she saw lights on in a lab at the end of the hallway so she headed in that direction. Looking in through the doorway, she saw one of the professors staring determinedly at some machine or other.
“Recalibrate it with those values? Yes, that might work. Hah! I’ll have this done before Carter gets back from her stupid little lunch meeting. That’ll show her!”
Cassie cleared her throat, and the man looked up, startled.
“Yes? What do you want?”
“Um, have you seen Sam Carter around?” Given his mumblings, Sam probably wasn’t in the building, but it didn’t hurt to ask. Plus, Cassie thought she recognized him as Sam’s nemesis, Dr. Rodney McKay, and thought it would be funny to ask him.
“What? No. Now, you’re interrupting me and I really don’t have much time for...” he trailed off as he turned back to whatever it was he’d been doing.
A little offended, Cassie had started to walk away when he stuck his head out the door. “Wait!”
Turning around, Cassie raised an eyebrow, aiming for her mother’s “I am not amused” look.
“Come here,” he said, disappearing back inside the lab. Pausing for a moment before she realized she had nothing better to do, Cassie shrugged and followed him.
Cassie focused on keeping the two wires apart while Dr. McKay made an adjustment on his laptop. “Just don’t let them touch,” he commanded. “We don’t want the circuit closing.”
By this point, Cassie was finding him rather amusing. From things she’d overheard between her mother and Sam, Cassie had figured that Dr. McKay was nothing but rude and arrogant, but he was so focused on being the best and the first it was actually kind of funny. And, though she’d never tell Sam this, she kind of thought the two of them were more alike than they’d ever admit.
Plus, maybe by being here she’d find out something that could give Sam an edge in their little “physics war.”
Cassie yelped as a charge shot through her. Dropping the wires she’d been holding, she stared at Dr. McKay in horror.
“You shocked me!”
“I did not. I told you not to let the circuit close!”
“My mom’s gonna be so pissed at you for this,” Cassie warned.
He’d obviously been warming up for more yelling, but that stopped him. “Uh, who is your mother?”
He stared at her, fear clouding his expression. Oh yeah, Cassie thought. This guy knew all about her mom and the big needles.
“Uh, how about we keep this just between us?”
Cassie narrowed her eyes. “You just shocked me! Why would I not tell my mother?”
He was clearly searching his brain, trying to find something and failing. Some devilish instinct made Cassie say, “Why don’t you stop whatever it is you’re doing and let Sam finish your experiment?”
Dr. McKay stared at her, mouth gaping. “What?” His tone was indignant.
Grinning evilly, Cassie decided she’d latched onto a good idea. “Yeah! Go get some coffee or scare kids or something, but leave this for Sam.”
“It’s up to you.” She shrugged. “I can call my mom right now to come get me,” she added, taking out her cell phone.
The struggle was clear on his face, and Cassie watched curiously, wondering if he was more afraid of her mom or of letting Sam beat him at something.
“Oh, fine. Don’t tell, and I’ll...I’llletSamfinish.” The last came out in a very small voice.
Cassie nodded and waited.
“What?” he finally barked out.
“If I just leave you here, you might go back to doing what you were doing. I’m not leaving until you do.”
He grumbled and moaned but eventually followed her out of the building. They were barely beyond the front door when he shooed her away. “Don’t come near me! You’re trouble!” He started walking briskly toward the student union.
Left to her own devices again, Cassie soon found herself bored once more. She thought about heading back towards the library or the clinic, but if her mom wasn’t done yet she’d be just as bored there, too.
Ooh! Maybe she should walk towards the athletic buildings. There had to be some teams that stayed over spring break to train, and training teams could mean hot college boys.
Startled, Cassie jumped to the side of the path just as a little motorized cart zipped past her. It screeched to a halt and a young woman jumped out.
“I’m so sorry! Are you okay? I just looked down for a minute to grab my cell phone.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Cassie replied.
The woman stared at her for a moment. “You’re Cassie Fraiser, aren’t you? Janet has a picture of you in her office.”
“I’m Laura Cadman, track coach here at Langford. I tend to see a lot of your mom. Student athletes tend to be a bit accident prone.”
“Oh.” Cassie didn’t really know what to say.
“What’re you doing here, anyway? Isn’t it spring break?”
Coach Cadman was really friendly, and before long Cassie was telling her all about the interrupted driving lessons, her misadventure in the science hall, and her own boredom.
“Hmm.” Coach Cadman pursed her lips in thought. “Well, I know it’s not as exciting as a car, but if you want, you can drive the cart the rest of the way to the gym,” she offered.
“Yeah. I’m just bringing back some old equipment that we had loaned to the theater department, and we shouldn’t go really fast, but it’s sorta the same.”
Cassie’s grin was answer enough.
“Slow down! Cassie, this isn’t the Indy 500!” Laura Cadman had a death grip on the passenger seat of the golf cart as they hurtled down the path to the gym.
“Oops,” Cassie muttered, turning the wheel more sharply than she’d intended. This was hard! There were so many things to pay attention to.
They took the last curve fast, and there was a clattering noise behind them. Cassie looked back to see one of the boxes had fallen off the back of the cart and was lying in the middle of the path.
“Cassie!” Coach Cadman’s shriek brought her attention back to the front and she realized they were at the gym. Like, right there, almost at the front door and it was coming up awfully fast...
“Eep!” Cassie took her foot off the gas pedal and slammed both feet onto the brake. The cart came to a sharp stop and both she and Coach Cadman jerked forward in their seats. Cassie was glad the cart came equipped with lap seat belts.
“Uh, sorry?” she offered to the frazzled looking woman beside her.
Coach Cadman focused on slowing her breathing for a minute before turning a brittle smile on Cassie. “I thought you said you were having driving lessons,” she said.
“Um, well, we really only got as far as Mom telling me about adjusting the mirrors and where the gas and brake were.”
“Now you tell me.”
Cassie climbed shakily out of the cart and hurried back to retrieve the fallen box. As she brought it up to Coach Cadman, the woman gave her a sympathetic look. “You know, I don’t think your mom will be too happy knowing I let her daughter run rampant in a golf cart, so what do you say we keep this just between us for now?”
“Okay,” Cassie replied, relieved.
“And Cassie? No offense, but I don’t think I’m letting you drive me anywhere – in anything – until you’ve had your license for at least a year.”
More shaken than she wanted to admit by her close call with the golf cart, Cassie decided that maybe it was time to head back towards the library or her mother’s clinic. She decided to take the long way, hoping to calm down on the walk there. No sense arriving all distressed and have her mother realize something had happened.
She wandered along the walkways without thinking, trusting that her feet knew the way. Before long she found herself in the quad in front of the big round sculpture-thing. Somehow it looked almost creepy in the mostly deserted quad. No students throwing things through it, no one hanging out at the base of it. Only a few flyers for events and parties fluttering down to the ground as the tape that held them up gave way.
Cassie shuddered and turned her back on it. She found herself facing the law school’s building. Checking her phone to see that her mother had yet to call her, Cassie hurried up the stairs to the big doors and let herself in. She didn't really want to go to the clinic, and given that the librarians had kicked her out of the library, she might as well explore some other empty building.
Plus, she kinda had to use the bathroom and there had to be some in here somewhere.
She wasn’t as familiar with the law building as she was with other campus buildings, so it took her a couple of tries to find the restroom. When she was finished, she walked back down the empty hallway, sticking her head in various empty classrooms. This would be a lot more fun if her friends were here, she mused. She couldn’t help but smile as she pictured them rearranging desks or something.
Heading back towards the stairs, Cassie noticed the nameplate outside one of the office doors. Dr. Elizabeth Weir was one of her mother’s friends, but not one Cassie knew as well as some of the other women from the campus. Still, as long as she was here she ought to say “Hi” if Dr. Weir was in.
The door to the outer office was closed but not locked, so Cassie let herself in. The inner door was closed as well, and Cassie shrugged, figuring Dr. Weir probably wasn’t there.
She started to turn away but stopped when she heard voices coming from behind the door.
“Hello?” she said softly, not wanting to intrude if Dr. Weir were in a meeting.
Cassie started forward intending to knock. She stopped suddenly when she heard Dr. Weir’s voice more clearly.
“There, right there! Yes! YES!”
Startled, Cassie froze in her tracks. What the...?
Dr. Weir’s voice was followed by a distinctly masculine laugh, and Cassie felt her cheeks flame up. Oh, God, was she interrupting Dr. Weir and her not-boyfriend, the oh-so-incredibly-hot Dr. Sheppard?
Not wanting them to know she’d heard anything, she spun around to leave the outer office, but misjudged where she was in the office and knocked over a plant stand instead. Even before it had finished crashing to the ground she was out the door and down the hall, huddling in an alcove by a water fountain.
There was silence for a moment and then Dr. Sheppard said, so loud and clear that Cassie figured he was out in the hallway, “I don’t see anyone, but I swear I closed the door.”
Dr. Weir’s voice was muffled at first, but became clearer as she obviously came out into the hall as well. “...window open? Maybe the door wasn’t latched and the wind caught it.”
“Dunno.” Dr. Sheppard’s voice indicated that he really didn’t care either, and after a moment’s pause, Dr. Weir obviously decided to let the matter drop as well.
Cassie heard their footsteps retreating into the office, and Dr. Weir said, “I can’t believe you talked me into installing and playing a shoot ‘em up game on my office computer on the first day of spring break.”
Dr. Sheppard’s voice was muffled as the door closed, but Cassie distinctly heard him say, “Hey, I’m not the one who’s aiming for a body count of a thousand. You lawyers are so bloodthirsty.”
Letting out a breath, Cassie turned to the water fountain and splashed some water on her flaming cheeks. She couldn’t believe she’d thought she’d heard them...well, she was just glad they’d been playing a computer game. Otherwise she’d never be able to look at Dr. Weir again when Janet had her over for coffee.
As she hurried out of the building, she decided that she’d definitely had enough scares for one day. First being shocked, literally, then the golf cart, and now this? She was sticking to the library until her mom called her.
When she got back to the library there was a student with a laptop sitting on the steps. Cassie was pretty sure she recognized him as some football player or something – someone who’d been in her mom’s clinic enough times that even Cassie, who really only went there when she absolutely had to, had seen him.
She settled on the steps a few feet behind him and to his left, pulling out her cell phone to start texting a couple of her friends. She glanced over at the guy and blinked.
He was playing chess on his laptop, and wow, was he bad. She watched in silence for a bit, but finally she couldn’t take it anymore and walked over to him.
“If you do that, you’re gonna lose in the next five moves,” she warned him.
Startled, he looked up at her. “Huh?”
“I said you’re gonna lose.”
He frowned at the game. “Really? And I thought I was doing better.”
“Um, better than a five year old, maybe,” she said sarcastically, and then winced. That was stupid. College boys didn’t like it when high school girls called them dumb.
To her surprise, he only sighed. “Yeah, I know. I suck. My math professor thought I should learn how to play so I thought I might try over spring break. But I think maybe I should just stick to computer games. I’m good at blowing things up.” He grinned at her, and Cassie thought, whoa. He was cute!
Well, talking to him was going to be a lot more fun than texting her friend about how boring Langford was during break, so she sat down beside him on the steps.
“Why are you still here? I thought everyone went to Florida for Spring Break.”
His eyes lit up. “We do. Or most of us. I’m just waiting for my girlfriend – she had a paper that she wanted to get turned in before we left. We fly down tonight.”
Girlfriend? Oh, well didn’t that suck.
He was staring at her, eyes narrowed. “You look familiar.”
Cassie stuck out her hand and he shook it. “I’m Cassie.” She left off her last name, because knowing who her mom was usually scared most of the guys around her away from talking to her.
It didn’t work. “Hey, you’re Doc Fraiser’s kid, right? I think I’ve seen you in the clinic before.”
Cassie winced. “I wouldn’t let her hear you calling her that,” she warned.
The guy nodded. “I know. I’m Aiden Ford, by the way.”
“Football player, right? I think Mom’s mentioned you.”
Aiden laughed. “Is your mom as scary a mom as she is as a doctor?”
Cassie wanted to say something cool, but instead she found herself telling the truth. “Nah. She’s actually a pretty good mom, except for the fact that she’s turned me into a total dork.”
“A dork, huh?”
Rolling her eyes, Cassie said, “C’mon. I’m stuck here on the first day of spring break and I’m wanting to hang out with Dr. Carter? Dr. Jackson brings me books to read in dead languages and I actually try to get through them. I play chess.”
“Huh.” Aiden cocked his head to the side and looked at her. “Okay, so that’s a little dorky. But you know, smart is sexy.”
Cassie couldn’t help it; she started to blush. Cute, a football player and nice? Why’d he have to have a girlfriend?
“Not in high school,” she replied, thinking of most of the idiots in her class.
“Yeah, but high school doesn’t count. When you get older...well, just look at the people you said you hang out with. Dr. Carter is both smart and sexy as hell. So’s Dr. Weir. And your mom, uh...” he trailed off as Cassie frowned at him and shook her head.
“Please don’t go there.”
Aiden laughed. “And then there’s my girlfriend.”
Cassie wondered if he was going to say more, but he just stopped and got a silly smile on his face, and she couldn’t help but wonder if there was a little bit of dork in him as well.
His face suddenly cleared and he looked startled as he reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a vibrating cell phone. “Speaking of... hey, Cassie, I’ve got to take this, okay?” He stood up and walked down the steps, where he held a quiet conversation.
Not wanting to be rude, Cassie leaned back on her hands and looked up at the sky. She was mentally tracing the clouds when Aiden’s shadow fell over her.
“That was my girlfriend,” he explained. “She’s turned in her paper and wanted me to help her pack. She’s never done the whole Florida spring break thing before.”
“Okay,” Cassie said. “It was nice talking to you.”
“You too, kid,” he replied, picking up his laptop and starting down the stairs again. At the bottom, he turned back to look at her. “Hang in there, Cassie. I promise it gets better. And maybe if I see you around here again sometime you can give me some chess pointers!”
Grinning, Cassie was waving goodbye just as her own phone started to ring. It was her mother, letting Cassie know she was on her way back to the library after clearing up some mess a student office aide had made when she’d gotten charts mixed up, meaning a whole bunch of tests had to be rerun.
Ten minutes later, Cassie was walking back to the parking lot beside Janet. “I’m so sorry that took so long, honey,” her mom said.
“I hope you weren’t too bored. Did you stay out of trouble?” Janet winked at her, and Cassie laughed obligingly, trying not to think about the science experiment, the golf cart, or the incident in Dr. Weir’s office.
“Well,” Janet stated firmly as they reached the car. “Let’s get started on something fun. I know this can’t have been a great way to start your break.”
In her mind, Cassie pictured Aiden Ford saying, “Smart is sexy.” She grinned.
“Nah. It was a great way to start spring break.”
Feedback always appreciated!