Author's Note: Okay, so as I'm taking a break between "Someone Like You" and "Icicle," this one-shot story decided it wanted to come out and play. It figures. Set in the Academy days, it tells the backstory behind the infamous piece of ink on Morgan's back - something that a certain Keith Kogane would know everything about. ;)
I own nothing except my characters, and I do this solely for fun and stress relief, not profit.
"WHOO!" Ginger screeched down the hallway, practically cartwheeling out of excitement. "It's Morgan's twenty-first birthday! Man, I so wish I was already twenty-one so I could come out and party tonight, too!"
"Girl, you party enough, and you're only twenty," her roommate Lisa deadpanned. "I shudder to think what it'll be like when you do finally become legal." She grabbed Ginger's arm. "Come on, let's grab Cinda and Kelly and see if they wanna go down the hall to give Morgan one big birthday greeting."
Ginger and Lisa stopped by Cinda's and Kelly's dorm room. Cinda was at her desk, studying something on engineering that they all knew she would need Hunk's help with. Kelly was sprawled out on her twin-sized bed with a magazine, eagerly catching up on the latest celebrity gossip. "Hey girls," Lisa whispered into their room, "you wanna come with us and surprise the heck outta Morgan?"
"Heck yeah!" Kelly replied. "Come on, Cin. Put the engineering down and get on it."
Sighing, Cinda flipped the book upside down on her desk. "Whatever. It's not as though I'll understand it without Hunk's help, anyway." She smiled a secret smile. The other five girls on the floor could tell she had a huge crush on Hunk, but she kept it to herself and never spoke of it. That was probably the reason she'd taken such an interest in engineering; she was fascinated from watching Hunk build things up, tear them apart, and then put them back together again.
"Come on." The four girls wandered all the way down to the end of the hall, to the last door. The coveted corner room. Morgan's dorm room that she shared with Lenora.
"SURPRISE!" Ginger shouted, busting through the door without warning.
Stunned, Morgan almost dropped her curling iron. "Ginge! I'm gonna kill you!" she shrieked, shutting the power off and setting the iron down. "I almost burned the heck outta my skin for that!" Then she shot them a naughty grin. "The only red marks I want on my neck tonight are the ones I get from Keith."
"We only wanted to wish you a happy birthday," Ginger replied with a false tone of innocence in her voice, repeatedly blinking her blue eyes.
Wow, my roommate has been spending way too much time with Lance, Cliff, and Aidan, Lisa thought, rolling her eyes internally.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Morgan motioned to the twin beds with the curling iron. "Sit down, ladies, and keep me company while I get ready for tonight."
Ginger and Cinda sprawled out on Morgan's bed, while Kelly and Lisa sat down on Lenora's. "Where are you guys going?" Ginger asked, jealousy slipping into her voice.
"Not sure yet," Morgan replied. "I know Keith, Jeff, and Sven were thinking about taking me bar-hopping, but I don't know if I'd rather do that, or if I'd rather go to a hot new club and just stay there. It's supposed to get really cold tonight." Satisfied with the way her long black hair, shot with threads of aubergine and cerulean, turned out, she shut off the curling iron and put it down. "I wish I knew for sure what we're gonna do, though. I have two outfits in mind."
"Cool," Kelly said. "Show and tell, Feld!"
Morgan opened her closet door and pulled out the two outfits. The first outfit was a brand-new pair of True Religion skinny low-rise jeans in a dark wash, coupled with a lacy dark-purple tank top. "This one's for bar-hopping." Then she held up a Hervé Léger knockoff bandage dress, black with a square neck. "And this one's for clubbing."
"Ooh, that dress is hot," Lisa uttered. "I don't think Keith will be able to resist you if you wear that. Especially if you wear it with those strappy purple heels of yours, the ones that I swear I'm gonna steal out of your closet someday."
Morgan grinned again. "That's the idea, Lis. And you'd better not steal those shoes. I'll know where to find 'em if they go missing."
"You guys are too funny," Ginger laughed. "So, where's your roommate?"
Morgan grinned. "Wifey's down the hall. She's baking me a birthday cake."
In the community kitchen, Lenora Stensson was helping her boyfriend of four years, Sven Holgersson, study for his Advanced Navigation quiz while waiting for the Guinness cake in the oven. She took a swig from the bottle of Guinness Extra Stout in between asking him questions.
"Hey! You're underage," he pointed out, swiping the bottle away from her.
"Oh, by a few months. Big frickin' deal." She stuck her tongue out at him as he took a sip. "Gimme that back."
She sighed. "Then answer this question: in order to skip into hyperdrive on a planet where the gravity is 2.73 times the amount of the gravity on Earth, what speed does a 1.18-ton fighter ship have to be at?"
"Gah. Remind me again, why did I go into navigation?"
"'Cuz your roommate's got piloting and shooting covered." Lance entered the kitchen and swiped the bottle of Guinness, also taking a sip. "Mmm, Extra Stout."
"Hey, you're underage too, McClain."
"Yeah, like that's really gonna stop me."
Lenora made a face. "Maybe not, but the amount of backwash in the beer should. You know how many mouths have been on that bottle?"
Lance looked about to crack up. "Well then, it's obviously more mouths than have been on Sven's -"
"Stop," they both cut him off.
"Sheesh. Can't take a joke, either of you." Lance shook his head, mildly appalled. He decided to change the subject. "Whatcha got in the oven, Sis?"
"A Guinness cake. It's for Morgan's birthday."
"Hence the Extra Stout."
Sven sighed. "I am never going to pass this quiz at this rate. And if I'm taking Morgan out tonight, then I'm really never going to pass. I might as well just flunk out now and change specialties while I still can."
"Uh, I think it's too late to change specialties, Friend," Lance shot back at him. "But it's okay, you'll be fine. Your girlfriend here is probably gonna graduate as the top systems analyst in our class. Then she'll most likely get promoted to Tech Sargeant and get an Alliance job right away, and you can ride her coattails for a while."
"Thanks, Lance. Now I feel much better." Sven buried his face in his hands.
The timer went off, and Lenora jumped up from the table to grab her oven mitts. She took the cake out of the oven and tested it for doneness with a toothpick, then set it on top of the oven to cool. "Okay, Bro, you help Sven study while I make up the cream cheese frosting," she instructed as she opened the refrigerator door. Then, to herself, she added, "So that's where he put the rest of the Guinness..."
Keith hadn't been sure of what to get Morgan for her twenty-first birthday.
There was a running joke on their floor about their tumultuous relationship. He and Morgan had broken up and gotten back together so many times since their first year that even they laughed at the absurdity of it. But they had made it a whole six months now without so much as an argument. That was a record as well as a minor miracle.
Keith felt he was actually starting to open up a little. It had been almost ten years since his parents' deaths, and the horrifying event still left him emotionally stunted. He could admit it, and admission was always the first step to recovery, but Keith Kogane was nowhere near recovered from his intimacy issues.
In any case, he finally decided on a piece of sterling silver jewelry for his girlfriend. A necklace. It was a simple silver chain with an entwined floral pendant dangling from it. For some reason, he saw it and thought of her. It looked like her.
To round it off, he bought her a bouquet of flowers. White roses were her favorite, so that's what he bought - a dozen long-stemmed white roses tied with a purple ribbon. Purple was her favorite color. It matched her violet eyes.
"Wow. Roses and jewelry. You came through for her all right, Keith." His roommate, Jeff Aki, glanced over at the bouquet of flowers sitting on top of Keith's desk. He nodded in approval. "Nice work."
"Thanks, Jeff." Keith knew that his roommate was fond of Morgan - too fond, really. They were like brother and sister most days, and she referred to him as Amigo more often than not, regardless of her relationship status with Keith. "I hope she likes them."
"Dude. She totally will. Knowing Morgan, she's gonna go crazy over 'em." Jeff flopped down onto his bed. "So, while we're on this subject, are you giving her any other gifts tonight? As in, slipping her something that'll require me to make other sleeping arrangements?"
Keith grinned. "I don't have anything planned, but you might want to make sure that Lance's beanbag chair is available, just in case."
"Cripes." Jeff looked amused. "At the rate I'm going, I might as well just date Lance and Sven. I spend way too much time sleeping in their room."
The comment made Keith laugh. "So where are we going tonight? Have you thought about it?"
"Dude, she's your girlfriend," Jeff pointed out. "I thought you were supposed to have all of this planned out."
"Do I look like I go anywhere? No. What do I know about New York City nightlife?"
"Hmpf." Jeff leaned back on his pillow and closed his eyes. "I heard there's this club called Cielo somewhere on 12th Street. How about we try that? It's supposed to get really cold tonight, anyway. It might be better to hit up a club than go bar-hopping."
"Good call. I'll let Sven know."
Back in the kitchen, Lenora was icing the Guinness cake while Sven sat at the table and decided that both he and Morgan were going to flunk the Advanced Navigation quiz. "This is ridiculous," he muttered, followed by some cursing in Norwegian. "If Instructor Bailey doesn't allow us to use calculators, we're screwed."
"Cheer up, Beloved." Finished with the icing, she took the spatula - covered in cream cheese frosting - and brought it over to him. "If I remember correctly, Bailey drops your lowest quiz grade at the end of the semester. That's what Morgan told me." Using her index finger, she cleaned the spatula of excess frosting and plopped it into Sven's mouth. "Mmm. How's that?"
"That," he replied mischievously, licking the length of her finger, "makes me want to skip Morgan's party tonight and take advantage of your empty dorm room."
"Geez. You two make it so uncomfortable for a guy to make dinner."
They looked up to find Aidan Dalloway standing in the kitchen doorway, staring at them disgustedly. Sven narrowed his slate-blue eyes back at Aidan's sapphire ones. Aidan always carried a chip on his shoulder over the fact that Lenora picked Sven over him, and any time he saw them display their affection towards each other, he made his disapproval known.
"Sorry, Aidan," Lenora offered finally, backing away from her boyfriend. She wanted to keep the peace; it was important that no arguing broke out. Lance was friendly with Aidan and his roommate Cliff, and she needed to make sure there was no tension on the floor.
"It's okay, Sweetie. I'm not mad at you." His pointed comment made Sven want to slap him, but out of respect for his girlfriend and his roommate, he did not. Aidan then moved to the refrigerator and pulled out his pan of leftover Italian sausage and peppers. "Are you done with the stove, Sweetie?"
"Quite." She picked up her cake plate, resplendent with the Guinness cake and its cream cheese frosting. Aidan moved his pan to the stove and fired up the burner to reheat his meal, shooting Sven a dirty look all the while.
"I think I'm done here, Elskede," Sven said pointedly, more for Aidan's benefit than his girlfriend's. He packed up his navigation book and his notebook, his cheeks aflame with anger. "Come on, let's bring Morgan her birthday cake. Then you'll come back to my room with me and help me get ready, ja?"
"Of course," she answered unsurely, afraid of what Aidan might say in response. Mercifully, he said nothing, he only rolled his eyes as he tended to his dinner on the stovetop. That was better than the alternative, so neither Sven nor his girlfriend decided to press the issue.
Once they were down the hallway, Sven's eyes hardened to ice. "I don't understand what his problem is," he muttered angrily. "We've been together for four years now, Elskede. You'd think he'd be over the fact that you picked me over him by now."
She sighed. "Drop it, Sven. Just...don't worry about it." She put the cake platter down on the floor, then embraced him. Taking his face in her hands, she said, "I love you, and that ticks him off."
He kissed her, hard.
"Come on," he said when he finally released her. "We've got a cake to deliver. And then I've got a date with a bar."
Ginger laughed as she brushed up against Lance. "Geez, how many more people can they possibly fit in one dorm room?" she asked him playfully, wiping stray cream cheese frosting off the corner of his lip. "It's like a clown car in here."
"And noting the people in here, that's a pretty fair description," Lance countered, naughtiness glowing in his eyes. "Hey, did you know that Keith, Jeff and Sven are all taking the birthday girl out tonight?"
Ginger read between the lines - it meant that he would have his dorm room all to himself this evening. God, she wished that she and Lance could just come right out and admit that they were seeing each other exclusively. "As a matter of fact, I did. And Morgan showed us her outfit choices. What she wears depends on where they go."
"Nice. I wonder where they'll pick." His voice trailed off, and he shot her a discrete wink. "So, that Guinness cake was pretty good. I think Len needs to bake another one."
"That's what I'm thinkin', McClain!" Morgan replied, her voice verging on a scream. "I want another one! Best birthday cake ever!"
Lance, Sven, and Jeff simultaneously shot Keith an alarmed look. "Dude," Jeff whispered to his roommate, "how much has your girl had to drink?"
"Umm..." Keith looked thoughtful. "She had a Guinness. One of the six-pack that Sven bought so Len could bake the cake."
"Man," Lance mused, "she's that drunk off of just one Guinness?" He clapped Keith on the shoulder. "Lucky you. She's a cheap date."
"Shut up, Lance."
"Oh my God, that cake was delicious!" Morgan screeched happily, standing up from the bed and dumping the crumb-laden paper plate in the garbage. "My Wifey is so good to me!" Grabbing her roommate's face in her hands, Morgan placed a kiss on Lenora's black lips. "First girl kiss of the night! Woot woot!"
"I am so glad I didn't miss that," Aidan announced.
"Me too," Cliff agreed.
"I only wish I'd gotten photos," Lance mumbled.
Sven shook his head, amused. "Morgan, if that's just the first girl kiss of the night, then how many girls do you actually plan on kissing?"
Morgan smiled back at her fellow navigator as she wiped stray black lipstick off her own lips. "Nothing's set in stone yet, but a few." She winked at him. "Besides, I'd even be willing to sleep with Instructor Bailey tonight if it means I'll pass that freakin' quiz tomorrow."
Sven laughed. "I might even be willing to sleep with Instructor Bailey if it means I pass."
Lenora, sitting on her bed, laid her head back against the wall and laughed. "Wow. Both of my significant others sleeping with this Instructor Bailey? He must really have the goods."
Sitting on Morgan's bed, Lisa giggled.
Jeff cleared his throat. "So," he announced to the everyone in the room, "we've gotta get going soon. Keith, get yourself ready. You too, Sven. And Morganza, it's a good thing you did your hair already. If you were just starting to get ready now, we'd never make it to Cielo before one a.m."
She tossed her hairbrush at him. "Get outta here, Amigo."
"And that's our cue to leave before we get kicked out," Cliff told Aidan and Lance. "Come on. I'm sure there's some piloting or shooting stuff we can check out."
Cinda raised her eyebrow innocently. "Hunk? I was studying my engineering, and there were a few things I didn't understand. Would you mind explaining them to me?"
Hunk shrugged, feeling awkward. "Um, sure thing."
Pidge looked up at Lenora. "You want to get a head start on the Extended Analysis mid-term, Len? I can call Chip and the three of us can study together."
Lenora nodded. "Sounds good. Just wait 'til after the birthday girl and her crew head off to Cielo. That way we'll have my dorm room to ourselves to study."
"What?" Sven plopped down onto the bed next to her. "You've got a hot date tonight?"
She smirked at him. "Yeah, with a set of smart twins. Lucky me. All you've got is booze and a birthday girl."
He didn't look like he wanted to go. "For some reason, I think you're going to have more fun."
Morgan threw herself on his lap. "Come on, Viking, you know you're gonna have fun with me. Now get outta my room. I've gotta get dressed."
Because all of the boys wore their metrosexual finest of dark jeans, leather shoes and button-down shirts, Morgan also chose to wear her True Religions with the lacy purple top. On her feet she wore black high-heeled Cole Haan boots, and around her neck, she wore her silver entwined floral pendant from Keith. They left the dorm with little fanfare, hailed a cab, and waited outside to get into Cielo. Fortunately it was still early - not quite 2200 hours - so the club wasn't too packed.
"Well, this place isn't so bad," Keith remarked as they took a seat at one of the leather banquettes by the dance floor. "It's pretty nice in here."
"What's everybody drinking?" Sven asked politely, pulling his wallet back out of his pocket. "First round's on me. Happy birthday, Morgan."
"Thanks, Sven!" She flashed him a grin. "Anybody know what they want to drink?"
Keith and Jeff look at each other and shrugged. Morgan shook her head, embarrassed.
"Gods," Sven muttered, followed by something in Norwegian that sure sounded like cursing. "Don't worry, I'll take care of it. Be right back."
"Touchy," Jeff grumbled.
"Oh, leave him alone." Morgan dismissed Jeff's comment. "Tonight's for me, boys. No arguing about drinks or girls or music or how lame this club is or anything else. Got it?"
Keith placed his hand on Morgan's thigh. "Anything you say, birthday girl."
She leaned in and kissed him. "Thank you for being the best boyfriend a birthday girl could ask for." Jeff raised his eyebrows in surprise; Keith rarely allowed public displays of affection.
Sven returned to the banquette, carrying four vodka tonics. "Here you go, sissies. Ciroc and tonic. You're welcome."
"Sheesh. I didn't know Norwegians had such tempers," Jeff quipped, taking his drink.
"No temper," Sven replied. "I just know how to pick a drink better than the rest of you."
They sat quietly and the banquette and began to sip their drinks, trying to pretend they were having fun. But really, they weren't. As the deejay began to set up at the head of the dance floor, people began to crowd in, making the small room claustrophobic and hot.
"Hmm," Morgan thought aloud between sips. "I wonder if the underage crew back home is having as much fun as we are."
Lenora wasn't an alcoholic, and she didn't particularly like the taste of beer. However, she felt left out. Her birthday wasn't for another six months - technically, five and a half - so she wasn't old enough to go out for her best friend's birthday. Her boyfriend was, but she wasn't. Story of her life.
So she did the next best thing. After Pidge and Chip had returned to their dorm rooms, she wandered back down to the community kitchen to swipe the four remaining bottles of Guinness.
Opening up the refrigerator, she found them in the exact spot that Sven had left them: in the vegetable crisper. Not the most innovative of hiding spots, but she supposed it was better than leaving them out on the kitchen counter. "And they're already cold," she murmured to herself.
"My thoughts exactly."
She looked up from the refrigerator to find Aidan standing there, staring at her. "You again, Aidan? What are you doing, stalking me tonight?"
"Hey, Stensson, I've got every right to be in this kitchen." He gazed at the beer bottles with his sapphire-blue eyes and whipped his blond ponytail behind his shoulder. "But since you've got four bottles of Extra Stout, how about we make nice and share 'em instead of arguing?"
Keep the peace, Len, keep the peace. "Sure. If you want to go down to the lounge, we can check the Giants score on the viewing screen."
"Or we can go back to your room and watch. Cliff's studying, and let's face it, if we hang out in the student lounge drinking beer, we're bound to get caught. And I'm not planning on getting in trouble this close to the end of the semester."
She sighed. "All right, Aidan. You've got a point."
The beautiful boy followed her back to her empty dorm room, holding two of the beers. In her room, she allowed him to sit at her desk while she sat at Morgan's. Turning the viewing screen on, she popped the cap on her beer and took a long sip. Blech. She hated the taste, and Aidan seemed amused by it.
"What's the matter, Len? You don't like dark beer?"
She shook her head.
"Funny. The guy you love bought it for you."
She sighed. "Aidan, why you gotta bring Sven into this?"
"Because." Knocking back nearly half of the bottle in one gulp, he answered directly and unnervingly. "Len, you and Sven have been together for four years, which is great for everybody except me. But that's not the point. Point is, he's a navigator and you're the top systems analyst in the class. Let's face it, once we graduate, you're gonna get some desk job in the Alliance, and he's gonna be on some starship, plotting courses. Do you really think the two of you are gonna make it after graduation?"
Horrified, Lenora knocked back her Guinness almost as well as he had. "Shut up, Dalloway."
"It's true, Len. I've seen the way Space Marshal Graham studies you. You're bound for a desk job, girl. And your Viking is gonna chart courses for some cruddy starship for the rest of his career. The two of you probably aren't gonna stay together after graduation, I'm just sayin'."
"Well, I'd like for you to stop sayin'."
He finished his Guinness in the second gulp, then proceeded to open up the other. "I know you two love each other, but I care enough about you to let you know what's probably gonna happen. In a year from now, the two of you probably won't even know each other."
As calmly as she could, Lenora opened up her second bottle of Guinness. "Hey, Aidan?"
"What is is, Babe?"
"I'd like for you to get the hell outta my dorm room."
"I cannot believe this is my life," Jeff groaned to Sven as they watched Keith and Morgan make out on the dance floor. Their ears were being accosted by horrible house-slash-techno music, which only made them drink more. He and Sven were halfway to plastered at this point. "As much as I adore Morgan, this is the worst night of my life."
"Same here, on all counts," Sven replied, attempting to drain every last drop of Ciroc out of his glass. "And the bartender here is being stingy with the alcohol. That's so wrong, especially considering how much we need it to get us through tonight."
"Yeah." Jeff looked around at the dancing couples and, more importantly, the single girls. "Dude. I need you to be my wingman tonight. I've gotta pick up a girl and make it look good. Otherwise I'll never hear the end of it from your roommate and his friends."
"Herregud, Jeff. Why do you even care what they think?"
"'Cuz I can't close the deal to save my life."
"Like they can?"
"Apparently, yeah." Jeff shrugged. "Sorry. Forget I even said anything. I should never have brought it up to the guy who has the best girlfriend in the universe." He dropped his eyes back to his glass.
Sven stayed silent for a moment, contemplating what his friend had just said. "I'm going to tell you a secret, Jeff. It probably won't make you feel any better, but what might make you feel better is that you're the only person I trust enough to say anything to."
"Spill it." Jeff desperately wished he had more alcohol in his glass, but he didn't feel like fighting the throngs of people at the bar to get another drink. And he really didn't feel like shelling out an exorbitant amount of money for a watered-down drink, either.
"I'm going to propose to Lenora for graduation."
"WHAT?" Jeff couldn't believe what he was hearing out of Sven's mouth. Well, the music at Cielo was ridiculously loud. Maybe he hadn't heard him right. Maybe he just couldn't hear him correctly over that hideous thump of an excuse for music. He made a mental note to never listen to house, techno, or electronic music ever again after tonight.
Watching Keith caress Morgan's face on the dance floor, he wanted to kill himself.
Sven also watched Keith and Morgan on the dance floor, almost as though he was studying them. "I said, Jeff, that at graduation, I'm going to ask Lenora to marry me."
"Dude, you're twenty-one! Why on Earth would you wanna get married that young?"
"Who said we have to get married right away? We can be engaged for a couple of years."
"You're in the prime of your life! Your twenties is too young to get married! You should experiment. See what else the world has to offer." He looked over at the Norwegian with a dire urgency in his eyes. "What if you two don't get stationed together? Then you'll feel like a huge jerk if you can't marry her."
"Not going to happen. She's the only one for me."
"Speaking of crazy, here they come now."
Morgan dragged Keith off the dance floor and towards them, clearly drunk, and Keith was only one or two drinks away from being completely inebriated himself. "Hey, how do you guys feel about gettin' the heck outta here?"
Jeff said a silent prayer of thanks, knowing that the Norwegian felt the same way about getting out of that blasted club. "Morganza, are you sure?" he asked carefully. "There's no re-entry, so if we leave, we can't get back in." He said it out of obligation, but he really wanted to get the heck out of there.
Morgan looked back at Keith and nodded, her lips curling into the biggest smile Jeff had ever seen. "Yeah, Amigo, I'm sure. Keith and I have an idea as to what to do next."
Next to Jeff, Sven buried his face in his hands.
At nearly midnight, the winds were howling. It was so cold out that they were cursing themselves for not taking a taxi, but the walk was short and not worth the cab fare. When they finally arrived at their destination, Morgan took Keith's hand and squeezed it.
The Tattoo Emporium. Open twenty-four hours.
"Okay, this is the point where the sober man is supposed to tell you that this is a bad idea," Jeff joked to Morgan. He looked over at Sven. "Problem is, both of the sober men are not exactly sober at the moment."
Sven snorted next to him.
"Shut up, Amigo, this is a great idea! I wish I'd had it earlier!" Morgan was on the table, laying on her stomach, jeans pulled down around her knees. "I should've done this when I turned eighteen!"
Keith sat on a stool next to her, gripping her hand and laughing. "Are you sure you like the design I picked out?" he asked, tipsy from the vodka. "Remember, you have to live with it for the rest of your life."
"Keithy, I love it!" she slurred in reply, kissing him.
Jeff sighed. "Why do I have a feeling that this is not gonna end well?"
Sven snorted again. Jeff found it truly amusing to be hanging out with a not-quite-sober Sven; the Norwegian's snorting in place of laughter was hilarious. "Because it's not going to end well, Jeffrey."
The tattoo artist - a short, burly man with a scraggly beard and a shaved head - was blessedly ignorant of their drunkenness. He placed the needle swiftly and meticulously, even as Morgan cried out in pain and ground her hipbones into the table. In a few short moments, it was over, and she had her tattoo on her lower back.
It was a "K" in block script, surrounded by a small, trailing vine of leaves, reminiscent of the pattern that made up her new pendant. There was no color, only a black outline. "When I'm a little more sober," Morgan informed the tattoo artist, "I'll come back and get it colored in."
"Whatever you say, Doll," he answered. "Just don't forget to pay."
Once she'd paid for the tattoo, Keith took her arm and drew her in for a kiss. He kissed her hard, not even caring that their friends were watching. "Come on, Cinderella, it's past midnight. Your birthday's over."
After a cab ride where Sven rode in front and Jeff uncomfortably sat in the back next to Keith and Morgan - who were making out with drunken abandon - they were back at the dorm. On the third floor, their floor, Keith dragged Morgan down the hallway to his bedroom, where he barely stopped kissing her long enough to unlock the door. As the door slammed shut behind them, Jeff sighed. "Your room," he told Sven. "Beanbag chair, here I come."
"My room, yes," Sven replied, "but you can sleep in my bed."
"Dude, where are you gonna sleep?"
He only got a raised eyebrow in response. "Never mind." Jeff opened the door to Sven's dorm room, only to find Lance passed out in bed. Well, he would definitely have a good story to tell him tomorrow. Provided he didn't freak out when he realized that Keith's roommate was there instead of his own.
Sobering up, Sven made his way back to the corner room and turned the knob. The door was unlocked, and he was surprised to see Lenora sitting up in bed, sipping a mug of chamomile tea. "I thought you guys might have come home," she said as he closed the door behind him. She reached over to place the mug on top of her desk. "I heard a door slam."
"Yeah, that was Keith taking Morgan to his room for the night."
She grinned. "So I take it neither one of you is passing that quiz tomorrow, huh."
"No." Kicking his leather shoes off by the door and draping his jacket over her desk chair, Sven sat down on the bed next to her. "I missed you tonight, Elskede. I really did."
She nuzzled into him, thinking about her earlier conversation with Aidan. "I missed you too."
Looking around the room, he noticed the four empty bottles of Guinness. "Did you drink all of those yourself?"
"No. Aidan helped."
"I see." He looked over at her. "What was Aidan doing in your room?"
"Besides drinking two bottles of Guinness? He was trying to convince me to break up with you. Because apparently we're not going to make it past graduation."
"He told you that?"
"Yeah." She sighed, unable to lift her head off Sven's shoulder. "Something about me becoming an Alliance desk jockey and you being stationed on a ship. He said it'd never work."
"Remind me to beat the crap out of him."
Wrapping his arm around her, he laid down and felt his body relax against the mattress. She kissed his shoulder, settling in with him for what was apparently going to be the rest of the night.
"I love you, Lenora. Always and forever. Don't ever forget that."
She nodded, feeling herself begin to doze off. "Always and forever."
With a small smile on his lips, began to doze off as well. Before he did, though, he mentioned, "By the way...tomorrow morning, remind me to tell you about your roommate's new tattoo."