Here's mine, written for sugargroupie.
Title: "The Great Canadian Caper"
Fandom: sga rpf, torri/joe ust, cast friendship
Summary: In retrospect, maybe a group vacation wasn't the best idea.
Joe isn't actually sure how it comes up.
Some endless problem with the lighting has kept them on the set after 10 p.m. – "I should be drunk already," Rachel keeps saying – and the collective sanity of the group is deteriorating rapidly. It usually happens this way when their calls run late – David will be amped on caffeine, Rachel gets punchy, Torri starts doing weird things like trying to balance a pen on the tip of her nose. It used to drive him crazy when he thought their antics were further delaying them from getting out of here, but they're in the third season now and he knows that there's really nothing anyone can do to get out of here before midnight anyway.
And it's not like he's staring, but in between games of brick-breaker on his blackberry, there's something a little hypnotic about watching Torri concentrate so hard on something so futile.
When he last looked over at them, Jason and Rachel were play-fighting over a donut and arguing over the merits of Timbits, and somehow they transitioned from that to:
"You don't know how to skate?"
"Dude, Hawai'i," Jason reminds her. "We don't have ice."
Rachel looks like Jason just told her they don't have gravity. "Not even indoors? Didn't you have to learn to skate in school? Torri!"
"Starting in junior kindergarten," Torri chimes in. The pen falls off her nose. "I still have the little snowman badge somewhere."
"Canadians," Jason declares dramatically.
Everyone glares at him. Torri glares at Joe, too, for good measure.
"Hey, hey!" Joe puts his hands up. "I didn't say anything this time."
She smirks at him, rolling her eyes in the casually familiar way that makes him feel warmer than he should when dealing with a woman who isn't his wife. "Well, watch yourself, Mr. Flanigan."
Oh, I do, he thinks.
L.A. is rainy and cold when Joe goes home for the weekend, and he feels a little bit like he never left. Jason text-messages him on Saturday night – well, an hour into Sunday morning – that they're all doing shots in Chinatown and Torri just paid Rachel ten dollars to take her top off. He sends a second text to specify: $10 cdn.
They could never do that in L.A., he thinks. They're not paparazzi famous, particularly, but a stunt like that anywhere near Hollywood would surely catch someone's attention enough to snap photos. (He wouldn't mind seeing those photos, of course, but well, that has nothing to do with whether or not he's having problems handling a long-distance marriage and everything to do with having a pulse, and regardless, it's a good thing there are no photos.)
Not that he does a lot of partying in L.A. His Saturday night has so far been spent aimlessly flicking through TV channels – Katherine went to bed not long after the kids, and nothing about her demeanor suggested that she wanted to continue their evening in bed.
Tell me more he texts.
Jason doesn't respond right away – probably having too much fun – and Joe tries not to feel left out.
The next text comes in at 3 a.m., waking him up where he's fallen asleep on the couch. It's from Torri: I'm crashing in yr bed, which means she's sober enough to put apostrophes in her text messages, but drunk enough that Jason didn't want to send her home alone. Usually Rachel's the one who ends up taking over Joe's bedroom while he's out of town, and she never bothers to text him to let him know.
It doesn't mean anything, and he doesn't think Katherine checks his blackberry, but he deletes the text. He slides into bed (with his wife) and tries not to think about what it feels like he's missing.
Somehow while Joe was in L.A., the argument went from ice skating to skiing to an actual plan.
"I'm booking it in two hours," Rachel is saying, waving her script in Jason's face. "If you don't agree to come along, you're a chicken and I hate you."
"I'm almost afraid to ask," Joe says.
Torri sidles up next to him, handing him a cup of coffee. "We're going up to Whistler for the long weekend to properly induct Jason to the natural wonder of this great nation."
"And drink," Joe supplies.
She nods. "It's an integral part of the Canadian experience."
Jason shrugs. "Rach told me I'd be deported if I don't learn to snowshoe or build an igloo or something."
Rachel swats Jason in the arm, and then looks over at Joe. "Long shot, I know, but want to come? You suck at Canada, too."
Katherine and the boys are traveling over the weekend up to San Jose. He has the time, but it feels irresponsible and not – he's glancing over at Torri without meaning to – just because someone might break a bone on the ski slope. For a second he's sure he shouldn't go anywhere near a vacation with his co-star.
Which is silly. He's been meaning to ski Whistler for more than two years now. They - all of them – spend all week together, and it would be ridiculous to stay in an empty apartment in Vancouver all weekend. It gives this thing, this occasional inappropriate fantasy, too much weight.
"Okay, okay," he says, sighing dramatically. "You twisted my arm."
Torri smiles, her expression breaking open with surprise and happiness.
Rachel points her finger at him. "If you back out, I'll set your trailer on fire."
Torri laughs before he can say anything. "I don't know what's gotten into her either."
Though they're theoretically taking this trek for their benevolent Canadian tour guides to introduce them to the rugged natural beauty of their homeland, Torri's the one snapping pictures out the window of Rachel's car. She let him look the camera over earlier – a birthday gift from her brother.
It's the first clear day they've had since returning to B.C. to film over a month ago, and the views from the Sea to Sky Highway over Howe Sound are just as impressive as the brochure promised, though they're not enough to keep Jason awake in the passenger seat. The higher elevations have been getting snow for months now, and the farther they get from the city, the whiter the surroundings get. They're on the edge of a cliff and he hopes it's not snowing on their way back down.
"They call this the Highway of Death," Rachel says encouragingly from the driver's seat. "Or so the CTV news tells me."
There's a click next to him from Torri taking his picture. She grins innocently.
"I say we sing 99 Bottles of Beer until Jason wakes up," Rachel suggests.
"Or O Canada," Torri replies, guarding her camera from from Joe as he tries delete the photo. "To go with your theme for the weekend."
In the end, Torri and Rachel settle for trying to remember the words to the Canadian version of This Land is Your Land - which, apparently, exists - loudly, for almost an hour.
In retrospect, maybe a group vacation wasn't the best idea.
Even after the brochure and the drive up, it surprises him a little how beautiful Whistler is. It's substantially colder than Vancouver, and he's not quite prepared for the way the wind bites into his cheeks as he steps out of the car.
It doesn't surprise him at all that neither Torri nor Rachel have been skiing in nearly a decade. It's been a while since college for him, too, but downhill skiing isn't something he'd forget.
"I'm not saying I won't take a helicopter up the mountain with you," Torri is saying, "but you'll have to explain to Brad on Monday how Doctor Weir is unavailable for filming because I died on the way down."
"So much for your hardy Northern pedigree," he says.
"I was always better at the beer-drinking part of the Canadian oeuvre," she shrugs. "Not all of us can be world-class competitive skiers." She smiles. "I read your resume."
Joe rolls his eyes. "My agent wrote that."
"Suuure she did." Her cheeks are already red in the cold and he can't wait to see her on the slopes. Her family used to vacation at Banff, she said. She can't have forgotten everything.
"It's fucking freezing," Jason announces. "Can we go inside and start drinking yet?"
They do hit the slopes before drinking. Rachel and Torri decide to skip skiing to take snowboarding lessons with Jason ("So we can all suck equally," Jason explained) and by the time Joe gets back to the lodge, his companions are already enjoying the après-ski.
"You people are crazy," Jason says as soon as Joe sits down. "In an era of indoor heating..."
"He's actually pretty decent at snowboarding," Torri fills Joe in, passing him the drinks menu. "Rachel fell more than he did."
Jason shakes his head. "If I'm on a board, there better be water under it."
"There is, technically," Joe points out. There's something nice about seeing his friends like this, outside of Vancouver, relaxed.
"It really is unfair that you two are better at winter sports than we are," Rachel complains.
Torri puts her drink down. "Hey, hey, speak for yourself."
Joe smirks. "Just goes to show the inherent superiority of Americans in all things."
Rachel and Torri glare at him in unison while Jason laughs.
"Fine, then," Torri says. "You two can enjoy your superiority. The music doesn't start at Garf's for another two hours. Until then, the Canadian contingent is hitting the hot tub."
"And you're not invited," Rachel adds.
They clink glasses.
The music is loud, the club is crowded, and they're all drinking way too much. They end up at a VIP table when one of the bartenders recognizes Jason, and Torri jokes that the curious people looking over at them are probably wondering who the heck they are. They sign a few autographs on cocktail napkins – one excitable young man even charms Rachel enough to earn a lipstick kiss mark above her signature – but for the most part, they're ignored.
It's too loud to really hold a conversation. He finds out what's happening on the other side of the table only when Torri repeats snippets for him, her mouth nearly touching his ear. Rachel and Jason are daring each other to try winter bungee jumping and drink the most bizarre-sounding drinks on the cocktail menu, and somehow Joe's hand ends up on Torri's thigh, and she doesn't push him away.
It's a crowded room, he thinks, and they're drinking and can barely hear each other and it's not like he's really touching her through her jeans, and the excuses cascade through his mind until they drown out the feeling that he's doing something wrong. Her lips brush his cheek when she says, "I'm glad you came this weekend," and his hand squeezes her leg without his permission. He's kissed her in character before, and thought about it for too long afterwards. This can't be worse than that.
So he leaves his hand there. Nothing will happen. He's not that kind of guy, no matter how far away his family home in L.A. feels right now, and besides, they're not here alone.
It's snowing as they make their way back to the hotel and they're all drunk. Despite how many times his feet slip, Jason keeps trying to throw Rachel over his shoulder while she laughs and pretends to struggle, and Joe wonders, if he weren't sharing a room with Jason, if Jason would have brought Rachel to bed with him. The two of them have always been more physically affectionate with each other than makes sense to Joe's more conservative world view. Jason has been with Lisa for at least a year and Rachel has been linked on and off with one of the guys on the stunt team, but neither of them seems to feel any guilt for their occasional extra-curricular activities.
"We've got an agreement," Jason told him once, about Lisa. He has a way of making everything seem uncomplicated. "It works for us. I don't know how you stand it, personally."
At the time, Joe argued the merits of fidelity, even long-distance, even when it seemed like he and Katherine hadn't had three nice words to say to each other in months.
Torri has her arm wrapped around Joe's for balance, leaning her head against his shoulder as snowflakes fall on her wool hat, and he wishes he were that kind of guy after all.
The next day, Torri switches to skis and joins him on Blackcomb. She sticks to the open slopes rather than attempting the wood-lined black diamonds – "If it has the word Doom in it, I'm not going" – and though he has to try a few of the more legendary double-diamonds, he mostly joins her.
He teases her when she wipes out and isn't surprised when she retaliates later with a mitt full of snow to his face. He laughs more than he has in what feels like years.
"I'm going to regret this tomorrow when I can't get out of bed," she tells him dramatically on the chair lift. The lift stops for a few minutes every so often, and she swings her skis beneath them even after he warns that she might lose them, peering over the edge at the acres of snow below. "You don't have to stick with me if you want to ski something more exciting. I might go check on Jason and Rachel soon."
"I'm sure they've already bailed for the lodge," he says. Despite Rachel's sudden patriotism, she usually refuses to go outside if the weather even approaches freezing. She and Jason are both serious athletes – he's never seen either of them even break a sweat training for their on-screen fight scenes – but he's pretty sure they both came up here more for the nightlife than the snow.
"That's what I meant," Torri replies. Suspended this high up, when neither of them are speaking, it's shockingly silent. He misses that about skiing more than the adrenaline. There's something wonderfully calm about the snow, like it's insulating them against the outside world.
They're anonymous like this, hats and tinted ski goggles protecting them from being recognized as well as from the elements. It almost feels – and it's funny only because of what they do for a living – like he's on a different planet from everything he's responsible for.
He's actually disappointed when Torri brings up next week's episode. They run lines from memory on the lifts and chase each other down the trails long after she first threatened to call it a day. The trail lights have come on against the darkening sky, and the white-covered landscape feels even quieter.
"I'll give you a massage," he even jokes when she complains again about her ill-prepared muscles, and she shoots him a curious expression in reply, half-flirting, half-serious, that makes his heart pound from more than exercise.
"You know," he backpedals, "buy one for you. At the spa place they have."
She rolls her eyes behind yellow-tinted plastic, not quite letting him get away with his quick save. "You're too good for me."
It feels like they're other people out here, not quite the Joe and Torri they are in real life, not quite their characters. "I'm really not," he says. He doesn't even know what he means – that he's a married man who can't stop thinking about his co-star, that he came on this trip knowing it was a bad idea, that he'd really, really like to disappear somewhere on one of these trails long enough to kiss her. To take off his gloves and her goggles and feel the cold skin of her face, to touch her off-camera, with no one watching.
Just to see. Maybe that's all he needs to do, to see that it's not some magical forbidden thing, that she's not the answer to all of his problems, that touching her once won't mean he'll have to touch her again.
"Joe," she says, because he's staring at her, and they're nearing the end of the lift. She pushes up the bar and checks her poles before letting the chair push them onto the ramp below. He skis after her until they're clear of the ramp, and then watches while she fusses with the straps on her poles.
"I think after this it's time to get warm." She's smiling and he's still thinking about it, so it sounds like an invitation.
His body feels like it's pulling towards her, like gravity, and he needs to catch his breath. "I've got a few more in me. Catch up with you later?"
She nods and skis off towards her run before he can tell if she's disappointed.
He regrets it the whole time he watches her go.
Rachel pitches the idea of a frozen pub crawl through Whistler Village, but managing all their outerwear layers derails it by the second stop. They all end up in his room doing shots from a selection of bottles Jason thought to pack. Rachel's still wearing her pom-pom'd hat ("Toque," she insists they call it), and Torri tells her she looks more like a fictional character than usual.
Torri's leaning against Jason, who's leaning against the foot of the bed. Joe's jealous of his roommate, of how easily he can throw his arm around Torri or tickle her side, like it's no big deal. He doesn't want to think if she's been a beneficiary of Jason and Lisa's agreement. With Rachel it bugs him only on a moral superiority level – with Torri...
He knows he's drunk when he thinks If anyone gets to have her, it should be me.
"No, no, no!" Torri's saying to Jason as he makes some kind of chemistry experiment in a glass. "Stop mixing that crap together. Rachel, don't you dare drink that."
Rachel turns up her nose. "I prefer to keep my Mexican and Russian drinks separate, thank you."
"It's not for her," Jason says, and holds it up in front of Torri, who makes a face. "I dare you."
Torri rolls her eyes, looking over at Joe, maybe for help. "Truth," she chirps.
Jason pinches her. "Nope. This or the Schnapps you hate. Death is not an option."
"Ugh. I hate you," she says, and takes the mystery liquid from him. She downs it in one gulp and grabs for a can of coke. "You are disgusting."
Jason laughs. "I didn't think you'd do it!"
"She never says no to a dare," Rachel tells Joe. "David made her flash Main Street once."
"At 4 am!" Torri says, still making faces over her coke. "No one even saw it except you pervs."
Rachel gives Joe a smug look. "You miss a lot going to L.A. every weekend."
"So I gather," he says. He grins. "So what should we dare her to do next?"
Jason's smile is dangerous as he looks between them. "Kiss you," he says, and winks at Joe, like he's doing him a favor. Like maybe Joe hasn't been nearly as good at keeping things under wraps as he'd like to think. Jason's pretty much his best friend – he's never said anything, but he must know.
When Torri looks at him, she seems far more sober than he knows she really is. "You can say no," she assures him, her lips quirking up in a smirk.
He's watching her mouth, and he can't remember how to argue against it or even why he would. She moves on her knees toward where he's sitting on the floor. We're drunk, he reminds himself, already filling out the excuses he'll need in the morning when he comes back to himself, and soon even that much logic fades from his brain.
"It's like on the show," Torri says, grinning, and she leans toward him, lips pausing just a breath away from his.
He kisses her, and something unexpected breaks.
He hears Jason cheering, but the self-consciousness doesn't kick in, drowned out by her. Joe's fingers are on her chin, holding her to him, and her mouth is warm and sweet and it's just a kiss, just a momentary lapse, but he can feel in the way her tongue brushes his exactly how she'll feel and look and smell stretched out next to him, and he wants that, again and again.
They break it off, and it feels like he's re-learning how to breathe. Other sensations are coming back – Rachel laughing, his heart racing, the smell of too much booze for just the four of them – and when he meets Torri's eyes, he knows with a hundred percent, terrifying certainty that if he asked, she'd say yes without even hesitating.
Fuck, he thinks, and plays it cool for only a few minutes before shutting himself in the bathroom and splashing icy water on his face. He closes his eyes to keep from looking in the mirror, though he knows what he'll see – chapped skin, cheeks red from hard liquor, and not nearly enough guilt. He's not thinking about why he shouldn't; the only thing in his head is how he can and how, if he's not careful, they will. He's thinking how they could do this, here, back in Vancouver, how Jason manages it, how his wife is thousands of miles away, how if it feels – god – anything like that, he won't regret it. He'll become that guy he never thought he would be if it means getting her.
When the knock comes on the door, it's Rachel. "You okay?"
He opens the door, and the room is quiet.
"They went downstairs for beer," she explains, and then cuts to it, "It's just a game, Joe. You're having a good time. Don't over-think it."
He's clearly not much of an actor when he's drunk, because apparently his face tells her everything she needs to know.
Rachel squeezes past him in the doorway, sits on the edge of the tub and looks up at him. She's still wearing her pom-pom toque.
He has no idea what to say, so he settles on, "I'm too old for this shit."
"No, you're not." She shrugs. "Well, we all are, but we're actors. It's a lifestyle choice."
Most of the people he's ever worked with have used that rationale. He's never seen anyone drink as much as the SG-1 cast, and that's including college fraternity parties. He's still not sure it can excuse everything. "Is Torri okay? I guess-" he waves a hand, "-I guess you guys do this all the time."
He hopes it's different, though, because he can't be the only one with his heart racing like this. He's spent hours over the past two years sharing coffee with her, playing with her dog, being silent together while the others are clowning around, selfishly relishing the smiles she saves only for him. If he weren't married, they probably wouldn't have made it to the first season hiatus.
This group vacation was a really bad idea.
"She's fine," Rachel says definitively. "I'm checking up on your crazy head right now."
He wishes he were just a little bit more drunk, so he could ask Rachel what he should do – knowing, probably, what she'll say. As it is, he can't get the words out.
She answers him anyway. "You're not a bad person for doing what you want," she advises, with the overly dramatic gravitas of two hours of solid drinking.
"You just want me to be as debaucherous as the rest of you." It took him a long time to sort out his friendship with Rachel. Despite outward appearances, in many ways she's the most like him of everyone in the cast. She's certainly the only one close to as stubborn.
"Jason will probably let you kiss him next time if you're looking to catch up," she suggests.
That gets him to laugh, at least. "That's a whole different thought I don't need in my head."
Rachel stands up. "Come on. You don't get to do this very often. Have fun." She punches him in the arm. "Next time, you dare her to kiss you."
He does, but only because Rachel and Jason already spent seven minutes making out in the closet, and they're all so sloppy drunk that none of this will matter in the morning.
He knows with the sensation of his best intentions falling away that it won't be the last time.
"This was the worst idea," Rachel says, after thanking God aloud that Whistler Village is prepared for people spending most of the day hung-over and has places that serve brunch in the late afternoon. "I'm never going on vacation with any of you again."
"Agreed," Torri replies, popping a bite of french toast into her mouth. Joe has known her for two years now, and though she always complains about being hung-over, she never looks or acts any worse for the wear. "I also think my legs are going to fall off. Weir needs to start fight training with the three of you."
"I don't even like any of you," Jason chimes in, "but pass the rolls."
Torri drives on the way back. The Sea to Sky feels even more terrifyingly close to the cliff edge on the Southbound side of the road, so Joe finds it actually less nauseating to look down at the script in front of him. Most of his scenes this week are with David, but Rachel does a passable McKay impression and he's only halfway invested in memorizing his lines. Usually, he's on his way to LAX at this point of the weekend. He's used to pulling his scenes together early Monday morning. He used to think of that as slacking, now he considers it a professional talent.
"I'm not sold on this Canada thing," Jason says, interrupting the middle of a scene.
"Too much cold?" Rachel suggests.
"Not enough surfing."
Torri laughs. "It's okay. I'd rather vacation at Jason's old stomping ground anyway."
Joe smiles. "Surfing in Hawai'i? I'm in."
"I'll watch from the beach," Rachel says. "The nice, warm beach."
"I thought we weren't doing this ever again," Joe reminds them.
Torri looks at him through the rearview mirror. He can only see her eyes, but he knows that she's smiling. "Every good mistake deserves to be repeated at least once."
"Or twice," Jason adds.
"Or..." Rachel holds up her hands like she's counting on her fingers. "How many times now have we gone with David to karaoke?"
"Too many," Jason and Torri reply in unison.
"He does lead a great O Canada, though," Torri points out.
Jason puts his hands over his ears. "If you start singing, I'm never going anywhere with you again."
Rachel reaches into the front seat to hit him with her script, and Torri smiles again in the rearview mirror, and Joe decides he's got to find a way to spend at least a few weekends in town this season, threat of bad karaoke or no.
Some mistakes are worth repeating.
Author's Note: sugargroupie gave me a great challenge, havocthecat provided moral support, and phrenitis helped me come up with sgarpf fanon on the fly and beta'd! This is the most Canadian thing I've ever written. I still have my ice skating snowman badge from the Ontario public school system.