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TITLE:  The Courage of Putting Pen To Paper
FANDOM: Stargate Atlantis (sheafrotherdon's Iowa 'verse)
CHARACTERS: Katie Brown
RATING: PG for language
WORDS: 1,154
NOTES: This was written for the SGA Saturday prompt, "trash".  It's set in sheafrotherdon's beautifully written, "Iowa 'verse" set of stories, which is an AU that you can find & read here.  This missing scene takes place in Chapter 7, "A Big Stupid Glory of Being Wrong All The Time".  When I read the prompt for this week's SGA Saturday, this was just one of a few items that jumped in my head - but it's also one of the ones that hasn't let me go.  (This is also not the only SGA Saturday story I'm writing for this prompt - elderwitty and I have a "Citrus Hill Moment" coming, and I also have at least one standalone story to finish.
WARNING: NOT BETAED.  This is also unlike anything else I've ever written, and I hope my original intention comes through.  Also, the dialogue in the last sentence isn't mine - it's straight from the story that inspired this.
SUMMARY:  After a visit from her mother, Katie looks to write Rodney a letter to inquire about Finn - if she can muster up the courage.

~*~*~

Katie closes the door behind her, turning and resting against it as her mother's footfalls draw fainter down the hallway.  She's got a tightness in her chest that she can't quite shake loose, even as the stress of her mother's visit slowly begins to fade.  Something in her mother's tone shook her to her core; she's not sure why it's affected her more this time than any other over the past three years, but there's an uneasiness resting in her chest this time that's demanding her attention, like an insect that darts in and out of her line of sight, challenging to be acknowledged.



As she pushes a shock of long, red hair behind her ear, she sighs.  That's yet another thing that her mother wasn't happy with; how long Katie's let her hair grow.  But her work at Berkeley has been so busy, and her free time so precious, she doesn't feel like wasting time with something as inane as a haircut.



She finally lifts herself away from the door and looks at the pad of paper, envelope, and pen that her mother left on the table.  Taking a deep breath, she avoids even a second glance at the table, and instead turns her attention to the philodendron that sits on her far bookcase, desperately in need of repotting and a little TLC.



Katie spends a good 90 minutes getting the soil, the planter, the fertilizer, and the plant situated just right.  She goes through, trimming off some of the growth in need of being removed, daring a look at the offending tablet every once in a while, just to make sure it hasn't tried to make a break for it.  As she pushes the plant to the back of the shelf and into the last rays of the day's sunshine, she hears her neighbors leave their apartment, their toddler in tow, voice singsong but happy - which brings her mind right back to her mother's lecture, the voices becoming faint as Katie crosses to the sink and washes her hands.



Steeling herself with a deep breath, Katie moves to the table and reaches for the pen.  It's just out of her grasp as her stomach grumbles, and she takes advantage of the bodily distraction to avoid picking it up.  She traverses her small kitchen and opens the door to her refrigerator, though nothing looks appetizing.  Sighing, she pulls out what she needs for a sandwich - cheese, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, mustard, and some deli sliced ham - and sets them on the counter.  She pulls out a plate, then goes to grab her loaf of bread from the top of the refrigerator, only to remember that her mother'd used the remains of the loaf that morning for breakfast.  She instead pulls out a ciabatta roll and slices it in two, then puts together her dinner.  Plating the sandwich, she decides she needs something a little more (and there's that pen, distracting her again) so she strides across the room to her pantry and pulls out some crackers, though her eyes again make their way back to the table that she's still trying to avoid.



Satisfied with her humble dinner, Katie pours herself a glass of white wine.  She takes a sip, then picks up her plate and turns - facing the table, and the waiting pad of paper that might as well be giving her the same accusatory look that her mother did throughout her visit, for all the discomfort it's giving her.



"Shit..." she mumbles, then turns back to the counter, where she puts down the plate and takes another long drink from her glass, wishing for the buttery Chardonnay to give her a little liquid courage.  Sighing again, she puts down her glass and picks up her sandwich, taking a bite as a slice of cucumber comes loose and drops into the sink.  "God dammit," she mutters as she slams the sandwich back down on her plate, a slice of tomato sliding out from underneath the ham, clinging by a corner of the crusty bread as she runs her fingers through her long hair.



Normally something as small as the loss of an errant vegetable wouldn't even faze her.  But after the weekend she's had, with her mother's continual pressing her with "what ifs" all weekend, she's surprised she's not more emotionally unsteady.



Taking a deep breath to steady herself, Katie closes her eyes - and suddenly all she can see is the image of that newborn son, the shock of dark hair covering his head as Rodney reached out for him in the delivery room.  It's an image she's carried with her since the birth of Finn, and one she's not likely to escape from any time in the next hundred years or so.  Though her plants and experiments and research papers have kept her busy, she always manages to see the face of the child she carried, then immediately gave to Rodney to raise.



She takes another bite of her sandwich, leaning over the sink as even more contents fall away from the loose grip she has on the bread.  "Fine," she says, abandoning the detritus of her meal into the sink.  She grabs her glass of wine and trepidatiously approaches the table, reaching out and putting her hand on the back of the chair where the pad of paper and accusatory pen sit.  She takes another sip of her wine, then sits down and picks up the pen, which feels almost too heavy to hold in her hand.



Closing her eyes, Katie grips the pen tightly and then opens her eyes, glaring down at the empty page.  "Dear Rodney and-" she starts - and then immediately stops.  She knows Rodney moved to Iowa to be with someone else - a man - but can't remember his name to save her life.  She glances down at the page, then puts down the pen and tears out the paper and tosses it towards the kitchen.  She can't just put 'the guy', so she decides to start again.  But the blank yellow legal pad stares back at her, harsh and stark against the delicate message that she hopes to convey.



After staring at the blank page for a good 30 seconds, Katie gets up and goes to her bedroom, where she pulls out a stack of warm, cream-colored paper, then comes back to the table and sits down, moving the insolent yellow legal tablet to the side and pulling the warm, cream paper in front of her.  She finishes her glass of wine and is about to get up for another, when she closes her eyes and grasps the pen firmly; the time for distractions is over.  She reaches down, her trembling fingers hovering over the page until she takes another breath to steady herself.



"Dear Rodney," she starts.  "I've been thinking about Finn, and wondering if...

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
melagan
Apr. 13th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
You always hit the tone of Iowa'verse dead on. This was a lovely Katie perspective. Thank you.
squidgiepdx
Apr. 15th, 2014 06:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!! That means so much - Iowa 'verse itself means so much to me, and to hear that I got the voice right means so much! And yeah, I really, really wanted to see something from Katie's perspective about how that letter came about...
esteefee
Apr. 13th, 2014 10:13 pm (UTC)
great POV, squidgie. her procrastination thoughts and her turmoil were really vivid. stupid condiments. :|

(I've added a Katie Brown tag for you.)
squidgiepdx
Apr. 15th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
I knew that letter was going to be hard for her, so I really wanted to explore that. I'm glad it came through! And thanks for the tag!! :)

::tumblyhugs::
em_kellesvig
Apr. 13th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so wonderfully written! You made me feel so much for Katie: the parental pressure of her mother, the quiet avoidance, the building frustration and turmoil, all of it so real and and so her. Thank you.
squidgiepdx
Apr. 15th, 2014 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad that it came through; as I was writing it, there were a few things that I knew I had to add, to make her own internal struggle that much more real - like the yellow legal pad versus the warm, cream colored paper, etc. If Katie was going to do it, it was going to be on her terms, not her mothers.

Thank you!
fififolle
Apr. 14th, 2014 08:18 am (UTC)
Oh my! I don't know the 'verse, but this was very moving and beautifully crafted. I hope she sends that letter.
squidgiepdx
Apr. 15th, 2014 06:19 pm (UTC)
Oh Iowa 'verse is one of my absolute favorite McShep AUs out there. It's actually what got me into SGA in the first place! I'd only known about John & Rodney peripherally - until my friend elderwitty said, "Here. Read this now!" and I did. And I loved it.

The letter makes for an integral part of Iowa 'verse, so I'm glad that this story conveyed that!

Thank you!!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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