Everyone You Know (Someday Will Die)
Summary: Katrina brings a friend home for Christmas, and she’s not sure whose reaction to dread more: her dysfunctional family’s or Gabriel’s.
A Christmas gift for all the Cornwell x Lorca fans, and especially @theadmiralslegion.
Characters: Cornwell, Lorca, Original Characters
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Discovery universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Note: The title is from The Flaming Lips’ Do You Realize?
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“Kat, relax.” Gabriel slings her pack over his shoulder and gestures her onward, out of the transporter station and into the wet city streets. “Maybe I’m the one who should be asking you that.”
Katrina hunches inside her coat and quickens her step, though she’d much rather be turning tail and heading straight back to San Francisco.
“Give it up, Doc,” Gabriel orders her, catching up. “Why are you so reluctant to spend Christmas in New York?”
“It’s not New York,” Katrina admits reluctantly. “It’s my family.”
“You’ve met mine,” he points out. “How bad can it be?”
“Let’s put it this way,” Katrina mutters, “it’s no coincidence that I became a mental health professional.”
Gabriel squeezes her hand. “It’ll be fine. And if it really sucks, we’ll sneak out a window and go get drunk at the Chelsea Hotel. Okay?”
“Okay,” she smiles.
She slows them to a halt in front of an imposing brownstone.
“This is your place?” Gabriel asks.
“This is my parents’ place,” she corrects.
It’s an impressive building. Even she has to admit that, and she grew up here. It’s as familiar to her as her own reflection – and, just like the image she sees in the mirror, sometimes she feels like what’s inside is foreign and unfathomable.
The urge to flee is strong.
Maybe it’s her Starfleet training, maybe it’s Gabriel’s presence at her side, but Katrina marches right up to the front door and pushes it open.
“Mother,” she calls into the empty hallway, “I’m home.”
“You have a butler?” Gabriel hisses as he hands his coat to the stiff-backed, black-coated man who leads them along the hall.
“They have a butler.”
“Kat …” Gabriel shakes his head. “How, in this automated day and age, is it possible for anyone to have servants? I mean, nobody has to work for money.”
“There are people who choose to serve at bars and restaurants. Why not serve in a private home?” she points out, then stops short. “Oh God. Am I seriously defending this? Quick, Gabe, get me out of here before I start asking my mother for tips on how to embroider a goddamned sampler.”
His laughter buoys her as they enter the drawing room to find her mother and father draped either side of the mantelpiece, looking for all the world like artfully posed cake toppers. Katrina takes stock of her mother’s elegant silk dress and perfectly dressed hair, and suppresses an inward sigh.
“There you are.” Her mother breaks the tableau to glide in their direction, and Katrina finds herself standing straighter and wishing she’d combed her hair. Her mother air-kisses her on both cheeks and then turns to Gabriel, hand held out as though he’s expected to kiss it. “Sophia Radcliffe-Cornwell,” she announces. “And you must be Katrina’s latest boyfriend.”
Boyfriend? Katrina can all but see Gabriel mouth it, but instead he offers her mother his most charming smile. “Pleased to meet you, ma’am. I’m Gabriel Lorca.”
“And he’s not my boyfriend, Mother,” Katrina insists. “We’re just friends.”
“Oh.” Sophia manages to imbue the word with a universe of longsuffering disappointment. “Well, I suppose I’ll have Mary make up a separate bedroom for you then, Gabriel.”
“No need,” Katrina cuts in defiantly. “I never said we weren’t sleeping together.”
Sophia’s lips tighten, but she maintains her bland expression. “May I offer you a drink, Not-Katrina’s-Boyfriend?”
Gabriel shifts his feet, but Katrina reads merriment in his eyes. “Thank you, ma’am. That would be … extremely welcome.”
“Call me Sophia,” she replies, linking her arm into his and leading him over to the couch.
Katrina stands in the doorway, alone and fuming.
“You’re sleeping with my daughter?”
“It’s not as sordid as it sounds, Dad,” Katrina cuts in before her admittedly enormous and terrifying father can scare Gabriel right out of the house and back to Starfleet HQ. “We’re friends, okay? We have an arrangement.”
“Actually, sir,” Gabriel offers smoothly, “I’m still hoping she’ll make an honest man of me someday. I keep asking.”
Katrina whips around to stare at him. “What the hell, Gabe?”
“In fact,” he carries on, “the first time I met Katrina, I knew no other woman would ever be good enough. I sent her flowers every day for a month before she finally agreed to go out with me.”
Gordon Cornwell switches his glare to his daughter. “Is this true, Trina? I didn’t bring you up to make a fool of a boy who genuinely cares about you.”
“It’s not true!” she splutters. “Gabe, would you stop?”
Gabriel sighs, gazing moonily at her, and Gordon makes a tutting sound, filling up Gabriel’s empty glass with his finest whiskey.
“Yoo-hoo,” a high feminine voice echoes from the hallway. “Anybody home?”
Katrina’s eyes go wide. “Oh God,” she blurts. “Mother, tell me you didn’t.”
“Don’t be unkind, Katrina. Genevieve’s divorce just came through. She has nowhere else to spend Christmas.”
“How many does that make now – five?” Katrina mutters, then tries to hide behind Gabriel as her worst nightmare flounces into the drawing room.
“Katie!” squeals her aunt, descending upon her in a flurry of kisses and perfume. “You look so skinny. My, who’s the honey?”
“Gabriel Lorca, ma’am,” answers the honey, proffering a hand. “I’m Katrina’s boyfriend.”
“He is not my boyfriend!”
“Oh, well in that case,” Genevieve links arms with him, “would you believe I’ve just recently become single? Come sit by me, Gabriel Lorca, and tell me all about yourself.”
Katrina holds out her glass and her father obligingly refills it.
“How did you two meet?” Sophia asks politely when the meat course has been served.
“Oh, she saved my life.” Gabriel sips his wine and rests his free hand on Katrina’s knee beneath the tablecloth. She stiffens.
“She saved your life?” Gordon chortles. “That’s my girl.”
“Yes, I would have been stampeded by a horde of rampaging Klingons if not for Kat. She threw herself in front of me and shot every last one of them down.”
Sophia looks mildly horrified.
Katrina throws down her fork. “Gabe, it was a simulation. Mother, don’t listen to him.”
“That’s how I knew she was my one and only,” Gabriel goes on blithely. “For our first date, I took her to Casperia Prime –”
“Oh, I went there for my third honeymoon!” Aunt Genevieve trills. “Or was it my second? Anyway, it’s so romantic. Katie, how on earth could you not fall for him after Casperia Prime?”
Katrina grits her teeth. “He took me to the observation lounge between shifts as our ship passed the Casperia system and pointed out the planet. There was nothing romantic about it!”
“Kat, you wound me.” Gabriel turns soulful eyes on her. “I took you stargazing. How can you say that wasn’t romantic?”
Genevieve cups her chin in her hands and sighs.
“Stop it,” Katrina hisses at him, “or you’ll be sleeping alone tonight.”
Gabriel moves his hand further up her thigh and grins at her.
“I like your not-boyfriend better than any of your other boyfriends,” Genevieve stage-whispers in Katrina’s ear. “You should marry this one.”
Katrina slugs the rest of her wine and wonders what appals her more: getting marriage advice from a woman who’s been divorced five times, or the idea of marrying Gabriel Lorca.
“Your aunt can’t keep her hands off me,” Gabriel declares, coming into the kitchen where Katrina has been hiding for ten minutes. She’d insisted on helping Mary clear the dishes, but really she’s taking the opportunity to help herself to the cooking sherry.
“I have no sympathy,” she retorts. “You called her Viva. In her mind, that’s a marriage proposal.”
Gabriel leans a hip against the counter beside her. “Actually, it’s your fault.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Well,” he trails one finger down the side of her neck, “you keep telling people I’m not your boyfriend…”
“… so how come you’re all upset?”
“I’m not upset.” She twitches away from his touch.
“Really,” he drawls. “Why are you hiding in here then?”
“I’m not hiding!” she shouts.
“I don’t believe you,” he whispers, leaning in close.
Katrina shoves him away. “I never should have brought you here,” she seethes. “In fact, I shouldn’t have come at all. This was such a stupid idea.”
“What, spending the holidays with the people who love you?” he asks pointedly, moving back in close. “You realise some people would give anything to have what you have, don’t you?”
“An overbearing snob of a mother, a father who sees me as his property and an aunt who could put a distillery out of business faster than she can say ‘let’s get married’?”
“People who love you,” he repeats emphatically, taking hold of her hands. “No matter what you do or become, they’ll always love you. And they won’t be around forever, so you should appreciate them while they are.”
She’s about to take a breath to rip shreds off him when she realises.
“Oh Gabe, I’m so sorry.” Her palms cup his face. “You must be missing your mom so much at this time of year.”
“This time and every other,” he shrugs. “Just because today is the anniversary of her death, doesn’t mean I don’t feel her absence all the time. Which is why,” he wraps his arms around her loosely, “I hate seeing you so angry with your mom.”
“Don’t let her hear you call her that,” Katrina jokes. “It’s been ‘Mother’ as long as I can remember.”
He gives her a pointed look.
“Okay, okay,” she sighs. “I’ll apologise. And I’ll try to be nicer.”
“Good.” Gabriel’s smile turns devious as his hands slip under her sweater. “Not too nice, though, I hope.”
“Oh, you like me better nasty?” Katrina shifts closer, letting one finger trail downward over his shirt buttons.
He stoops to grab her under the thighs, lifting her onto the kitchen counter and stepping between her legs. “Let’s find out just how nasty you are today,” he teases, one hand sliding up under her skirt. She wriggles impatiently, hooking her ankles behind his back, and his grin widens in delight. “Why, Lieutenant Cornwell, are you trying to seduce me?”
“Are you telling me I have to try?” she smirks back.
“Nope,” he murmurs as he leans in to kiss her, “I’m easy.”
They pull apart at Genevieve’s startled exclamation, Gabriel’s hand moving as unobtrusively as possible from under Katrina’s skirt. Not subtly enough; Genevieve doesn’t miss it.
“Sorry,” she snickers, backing out of the kitchen, and as the door swings shut behind her they hear her calling, “Sophia? I wouldn’t bother making up that extra bed. I don’t think Gabe is going to need it …”