Characters/Pairing: Lane Pryce/Joan Harris, Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell
Word Count: 613
Spoilers: Through 5x12: "Commissions and Fees"
Five times Lane imagines going somewhere with Joan, and one time he doesn't.
It'll be an adventure, he says. Very exotic.
Joan's never been on a plane. Though she tries admirably to hide it, she is nervous. She grips his hand tightly in the minutes before takeoff. But when the craft roars down the runway and its wheels finally leave the ground, her mouth drops open in wonder.
There's a swooping sensation in his stomach, the kind Lane normally associates with flying. Each glimpse of her delighted expression multiplies the feeling tenfold. He's done something right, for once.
The tension's disappeared from their clasped hands, but she doesn't let go.
He loves that.
2. new york
They get a room at the Pierre, for old time's sake. Lane makes a show of mapping its former layout, ushering her to a table near the window: “Your desk was here.”
Joan leans against the table's edge, coy. “Remember where you were?”
Lane sits in a nearby armchair, miming a bit of writing.
She laughs. “I'm surprised you got anything done.”
Six months of Roger's pranks, Don's chain-smoking, and Peggy and Pete's constant rows. He'd looked over at Joan, one day, and rolled his eyes. She'd smiled back, understanding.
Well. Obviously, he's been useless ever since.
They don't stay long in London.
He'd prefer not to bump into former colleagues. Or worse, certain relatives. But she wanted to see the city, once.
He takes her to Brighton. On the first day, they picnic on the beach in a quiet corner. She reads aloud to him from one of her books. He falls asleep by the time the Bennets get to Netherfield and wakes to Joan's hand edging up his thigh.
The thought is terrifying; the execution, utterly exhilarating. Afterward, Lane holds her, and they're quiet. She settles her head on his chest. He strokes her hair.
Joan wants to see the volcanoes. He tells her to bring Kevin, so she doesn't spend the week worrying. He'll bring Nigel.
The children are fascinated by the island. Lane walks the beach with Nigel, shows him colorful plants and strange-looking animals. Kevin's taken with the native girls in the grass skirts. (Just like his father, Joan quips.)
Mid-week, Nigel makes a game of substituting aloha for proper words. They pick it up quickly. Hello. Surprise! Fantastic. Aloha.
Joan touches his face one night as they're settling into bed, palm cupping his cheek.
“Aloha,” she whispers.
He kisses her.
5. new york
It's seven p.m. and they're still in the office, poring over the books. Suddenly, Lane pushes the work from his lap: “Why don't we go to dinner, hm? Upstairs, if you like.”
She doesn't argue.
They drink too much, and barely eat a thing. There's a band in, and once Joan excuses herself to the ladies', Lane bribes the conductor with a crisp tenner.
When she returns, they play his request: La Vie en Rose. Her favorite. He and Joan dance cheek to cheek beside their table, and she hums the tune against his skin.
He closes his eyes.
6. and one time he didn't
Nobody talks after they read the letter. They just drink. Roger tries to fill the silence, but the first thing he says is You think he--? and Don shuts him up.
She cries. Pete stares at her, glassy, like she's supposed to explain how this happened. She can't. All she can think is bon voyage.
The coroner arrives, puts Lane's body on a stretcher. Before they take him away, Joan goes into his office and returns with something small. She places Lady Liberty on Lane's chest, brass gleaming gold against the white sheet.
Her throat tightens. It's not enough.