Title: The Entrepreneur
Characters: Radek, Elizabeth, Miko, Sheppard, Kavanaugh, Canadian gate guy
Relationships: Zelenka/Weir with slight references to McKay/Beckett and Kavanaugh/?
Warnings: Nothing really other than some French
Summary: Elizabeth decides to check out Zelenka's newest scheme.
Author's Note: This just came to me this morning, so I wrote it. I'm assuming Miko's family name is Kusanagi, who is mentioned as being a scientist with the ATA gene but never seen. They may turn out to be separate characters. Also, Canadian gate guy is called Lenoir in this fic (and in the Broken series) since, so far as I know, he doesn't have a name in canon and I needed one.
Disclaimer: The characters, the setting, etc. are NOT mine, even if I wish they were.
ETA: This got second place in the Weir/Zelenka category of The Isis Awards. Thanks to those who voted for it. I'm honoured.
She hadn't known what to think when Kavanaugh had come to her with the accusation. Why in the world would Zelenka and Kusanagi be hoarding food anyway? But when she'd questioned the supplies clerk, she'd been dismayed to discover Kavanaugh's wild story was true.
So, here they were, neither looking particularly contrite.
"It isn't like that," Zelenka said, adjusting his glasses.
"Then tell me what it is like, doctors, because I am, very frankly, flabbergasted at your behaviour," Elizabeth answered.
Dr. Kusanagi Miko looked to Radek. He sighed. "Let me explain."
"All right. I'm listening."
"Some months ago, I asked Miko out on a date. She accepted."
She wasn't sure what this had to do with missing food supplies, but nodded her head.
"But, when we tried to come up with what to do, we ran into difficulty. The old standby dinner and show doesn't work on Atlantis. You have choice of eating in cafeteria-- not terribly conducive to getting to know each other better-- or you take cafeteria food to one of your apartments-- which in most cultures is a bit forward for first date. Likewise, there are no playhouses or movie theaters or concerts and no bars or coffeehouses to go to afterward to discuss movie or play or what have you. It was very disconcerting."
"Okay," Elizabeth said, nodding. "I can see that as a problem."
"So, we settled on meeting on a balcony. I brought food from cafeteria. Afterward, we took a long walk on west pier. It was pleasant, but we both agreed that lack of social venues makes dating rather uncomfortable. And then, between us, we came up with idea."
Miko, apparently emboldened by Elizabeth's attention to Radek's story took over. "We thought why couldn't we start up something to make it easier for couple to get to know each other?"
"It would have to be private and discreet," Radek continued, "where the couple wouldn't be disturbed and could get to know one another without worry about rumour mill."
"Of course," Miko added, "it should have good food, in variety of styles."
"Good, but quiet service and pleasant atmosphere."
"Choice of entertainment for after dinner."
"And coffee or drinks to wrap up the evening," Radek finished.
Elizabeth blinked. "So, you two created a..."
"Combination restaurant and movie theater," Radek answered. "But private. Only one reservation at a time."
"So only one couple at a time?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Usually. But some people double-date or have private party."
"And you do your own cooking?" she asked.
"Sometimes, if it's a style Miko or I can do. Other times, we bring in others to cook."
"And what do you get out of it? How do they pay you?"
"Favours. Chocolate. New books to read. New movies," Radek answered.
"Better quality food," Miko added.
"Oh, yes. We often make or have made enough that we can have some as well, if it's something we like," Radek agreed. "But mostly, it's about providing a needed service and seeing our work associates happy."
"Which makes some of them much easier to work with," Miko said, smiling.
Radek grinned back at her, obviously sharing a private joke.
"So, you already have an established clientele?" Elizabeth asked.
"Oh, yes," Miko answered.
"Anyone I know?"
"Yes," Radek answered. "But we would rather not share names. These people come to us expecting privacy."
"Okay. My initial reaction is that this is probably a good thing, but I'd like to look over your facilities and see this operation for myself."
"We would be happy to show you," Miko said, "but..." She looked at Radek.
"It might be easier for you to understand if you could have whole experience," he said. "I would be honoured to have you as my date for an evening."
Elizabeth considered the offer for a moment. "Okay. I could do with an evening off. How does this work?"
Radek smiled and turned to Miko. "When is next free day?"
Miko produced a datapad and pulled up a page. "Mmm... tomorrow night."
"Is Fournier available?"
The Japanese scientist nodded.
"Good. Then we will have French food. Is that acceptable, Elizabeth?"
She nodded. "French would be excellent. I've always loved visiting France."
"Then we'll follow the theme through entire evening."
Miko nodded. "I'll make arrangements. If I may be excused?"
Elizabeth nodded. "That's all for now."
Kusanagi nodded at the two of them and stepped out.
Elizabeth turned back to Radek. "So, you and Miko?"
"Business partners only," he answered.
"I'll pick you up at your quarters at seven tomorrow then?"
She nodded. "I'll see you then."
She'd never realised how handsome he was until the moment she opened the door to her quarters and he stood there, dressed in a navy blue jacket over a charcoal turtleneck and slacks, hair combed neatly. The jacket seemed to bring out the blue of his eyes, which lit up at the sight of her.
"I hope I'm not too casual," she said.
His eyes slid down her wrap-around top and charcoal slacks in appreciation. "No. You're perfect," he answered.
She wished she'd thought to wear flats. In her heels she had a couple inches on him.
He offered her his arm. "Shall we go?"
She felt strangely giddy as she slid her hand into the crook of his elbow and set off down the hall to the transporter. It had been a while since she'd had a first date, a thousand potential futures before them.
Sheppard stepped out of the transport as they approached and quirked his eyebrows at them. "You two look nice tonight," he commented.
"Thank you, colonel," Radek answered, completely unruffled, as they stepped into the transporter.
She wondered how likely John was to talk and whether she cared. On the one hand, dating anyone on the expedition could cause problems-- favouritism or conflict of interest or at least the appearance of them. On the other, she was human and had as much right to a life as anyone. Yes, she could definitely see where Radek and Miko's little service could help, especially the more senior staff on Atlantis.
"I don't suppose you'd tell me if John was one of your clients," she said as he entered their destination on the map.
He smiled at her. "No, I wouldn't. But I will tell you he is one of our chefs."
She blinked. "John? Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard is one of your chefs?"
"On very rare occasions, yes. It seems his mother fell ill when he was in high school in California and they hired a young, pretty Mexican-American cook. He took a sudden keen interest in cooking." The doors to the transporter opened and they stepped out. "His tamales are to die for and, considering ingredient substitutions, quite authentic-tasting, or so I've been told."
She shook her head. "You learn something new every day."
They walked down the hallway a short distance and then he palmed a door open. Lenoir, dressed in crisp suit, stood inside. It took her a second to place him, since she was so used to seeing him at the gate controls. Inside, she could see a room tastefully decorated, the lights pleasantly dim, with a few tables covered in tablecloths with candles flickering on them. Classical music played very quietly.
"Bonsoir, mademoiselle, monsieur. Bienvenue à Chez Jean. Comment allez-vous ce soir?"
"Très bien, merci," Radek answered. "Et vous-même?"
"Bien, monsieur. Suivez-moi, s'il vous plaît."
Elizabeth turned to Radek as Lenoir showed them to a table, already set for two. "You speak French."
He nodded. "I studied for two years at École Polytechnique in Paris. One doesn't do that without speaking French very well."
She smiled. "I suppose not." She'd tried out her rather hesitant Czech on him a time or two. Now it appeared there was another language they shared in common.
"Kir?" Radek asked.
She raised her eyebrows. "Naturellement."
Radek nodded to Lenoir, who disappeared into the back.
"Any other languages I should know about?" she asked.
"A bit of Spanish," he admitted.
"Remarkable. I wish we Americans would encourage multi-lingualism in our children."
Lenoir returned with two wine glasses of kir as well as a selection of canapés and crudités.
"I think it has to do with size of your country. In Europe, another country with different language is right there," he said. "You get exposed young to people speaking different languages. It's only natural to learn several."
She nodded, dipping a cucumber wedge into the dip.
"Also, of course, your schools start too late. Children should be learning young, not in their teen years," he said, gesturing with a canapé. "But, you have one advantage."
"What's that?" she asked, plunging some Athosian vegetable into the dip and eating it with delight.
"Once you have mastered English, any other language is easy."
She chuckled, taking a canapé. "So, why is it Chez Jean rather than Chez Radek or Chez Miko or something? These are excellent, by the way."
"Thank you. The restaurant's name for evening is up to the chef, with some variation. Since Jean is cooking, it's Chez Jean. If it were, say, Colonel Sheppard, it would be Casa del Juan or something similar. He likes to play with the name. Fournier generally goes with Chez Jean."
"Pardonnez-moi," Lenoir interrupted. "Vous voulez le vin avec le dîner?"
Radek looked at Elizabeth.
"Oui, merci," she answered.
Lenoir looked at Radek. "Qu'est-ce que vous voulez boire?"
"Ce qui est le plat principal?" Radek asked.
"Emincé de volaille sauce Roquefort."
"Hm. Je pense que le Schlumberger 1997 Cuvee Anne Gewurztraminer serait excellent."
"Très bon, monsieur."
Lenoir walked off. Elizabeth smiled at Radek. "You really go all out. Should I ask where you got the wine?"
"Trade," he answered.
"So, I take it from your question that there's no choice on the menu?"
"The menu would be arranged ahead of time or you can let the chef surprise you. Of course, we take into account preferences, allergies, limited diets, that sort of thing. In this case, Fournier has free rein."
Lenoir arrived with the wine and salade Niçoise. He efficiently filled their wine glasses and left the rest of the bottle on ice, then slipped away again.
"He's a very efficient waiter," she commented, taking a bite of the salad.
"He worked his way through college as a waiter. Also, he speaks French."
"Yes. That definitely adds to the experience."
They chatted for a while, sliding from English to French and back easily. She found herself relaxing and genuinely enjoying herself. He was quick-witted and had a grasp of world politics that few Americans had. Soon they were discussing adventures in France, funny stories from childhood, and a few foibles of their fellow Atlanteans. It had been some time since she had laughed this hard.
"I'd forgotten you had children," she said, taking another bite of the tender chicken-like animal that was standing in as chicken in the dish before them.
"Three, actually," he answered. "Eleska is freshman at Charles University, studying biochemistry. Damek is sophomore at CTU in electrical engineering." He took another bite of sautéed potatoes. "And... Claude is a pharmacist."
"Claude?" she asked, surprised by the French pronunciation of the name.
"Yes. Claude Moreau. He is twenty-two and a French national."
She did the math. "Ah. I see."
"I didn't know about him until a few years ago. Oh!" He dug into his back pocket and produced a billfold and flipped it open to a baby picture. "Rodrigue, my grandson."
"Claude's son, I take it?"
He nodded. "I haven't got a more recent picture. He's... hm... eighteen months now."
"He has your eyes."
Lenoir arrived with the cheese course at that point. "Voudriez vous avoir le cours de fromage tout en observant le film?"
"Oui, merci," Elizabeth answered.
Radek stood. "Through here." He led her through a side door and into a room with a few chairs and couches scattered about. A projector stood at the back of the room.
"Do you know what we're seeing?" she asked.
"Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain," he answered. "I thought we'd stay with the theme."
"Oh, Amélie! I've wanted to see that for some time now."
"You'll like it, I think."
And she did. And it didn't seem at all unnatural when he slipped his arm around her shoulder as they watched.
Afterward, they enjoyed crème brulée and coffee and talked about the film.
"I actually knew someone who stole their neighbour's lawn gnome and took him on vacation with them," Elizabeth said. "He got pictures with it every place he stopped."
Radek laughed. "A bit heavy to be carrying around."
"It was worth it. Those pictures were priceless."
And before they knew it, it was midnight. They bid good night to Lenoir and Miko, who had shown up to clean.
The touch of his hand in the small of her back as they walked felt good. The whole evening had been good, in fact.
Too soon they arrived in front of her quarters. "Well, thank you for the lovely evening, Radek."
"You're welcome," he answered. "Perhaps... in a week or two, we could do it again?"
She smiled. "I'd like that. Maybe next time we could try Colonel Sheppard's tamales."
"I'll see what I can arrange."
They both stood for a second, feeling strangely like teenagers, then he reached out and cupped her cheek and leaned up, his lips meeting hers. His kiss was warm and sensual and full of promise. He pulled back far too soon, a finger tracing her cheek gently. "Good night, Elizabeth."
"Good night, Radek," she answered. She stood in her doorway and watched as he walked down the corridor to the transporter, an extra spring in his step.
Kavanaugh gave him a glare as he walked into the labs, then proceeded to ignore him for most of the morning, till the other scientists left for lunch.
Seeing the empty lab, Radek said, "Thank you for complaining to Dr. Weir."
"No problem. How'd it go?"
"So, is it open, by any chance, next Tuesday?"
Radek pulled up the schedule and saw the notation Beckett/McKay. "Sorry. Already reserved."
Radek looked. "Yes, is open then. What food did you want?"
"I'm thinking Chinese."
Radek made a notation. "Anything special?"
"Something hot-- Szechuan or Hunan."
Kavanaugh chuckled. "It's going to sound silly, but can you get hold of any animated Disney?"
"Mulan? To go with Chinese food."
"That'd be great. Thanks."
"No problem. One good turn deserves another, after all." Radek smiled and made a note to check with John about when he could cook next.