If you asked the Director of Project Freelancer what his plans were for New Year's Eve, then he would have told you, in a very grumpy and Texan voice, that he had been roped into a UNSC function in New Alexandria. He would've muttered to himself what a waste of time it was and how he had to leave the Mother of Invention and go to Earth to do nothing but drink eggnog and glare.
If you asked any of the agents in Project Freelancer what they were planning to do on New Year's Eve, then you probably would received one of two answers: Either 'No plans' (if you asked the Boarders) or 'Get drunk' (if you asked pretty much anybody else).
However, if you asked Agent Louisiana what her plans were for New Year's Eve then she would tell you that she was planning on getting drunk and annoying the hell out of everybody else.
If you also asked Louisiana if she'd planned on pretty much instigating a ship-wide mutiny, then she probably would have laughed in your face. As it was, she had not planned on the fact that her blasting music and drinking booze on the training floor would encourage everyone else to join her.
And by 'everyone else', we mean everyone else.
After her fourth round of whatever it was in the little red plastic cups and God only knows how many shots of Smirnoff, Louisiana finally gathered enough presence of mind to wonder where the hell the disco ball had come from.
She knew the 21st century music was coming from her own stereo system, and she knew that she herself had helped a few other agents construct the makeshift bar out of crates lying in the storerooms. Hell, she even knew where most of the alcohol had come from; the answer being from her own private stash and that of her friend Dan, a Standard Issue Soldier on the ship.
But, she could not, for the life of her, remember when the disco ball had popped up.
She peered around the dark and flashing room, around the dozens of bodies bouncing to the techno-pop trash that was definitely not from her playlist, searching for her SI friend Dan. She was intent on asking him to help her solve the mystery of the magically appearing disco ball.
But she couldn't remember where he was.
The last time she could remember seeing him was about an hour before. They had both been over on the other side of the room, in the corner opposite the bar, cheering on Ada (Agent Nevada) as she faced Maine in an epic battle for supremacy.
She remembered thinking that it was the most pumped thumb-wrestling match she ever seen!
Then she'd turned excitedly to Dan, having seen South and Agent Michigan (more commonly known as Mitch the Snitch due to his habit of tattling) making out a few meters away, but he had disappeared.
Aha! Louisiana remembered where she was now!
She had headed off to look for him when some of the other troopers distracted her with a contest of who could take the most shots before falling over!
Happy with finally figuring out how she had ended up standing on top of a makeshift table with an empty bottle in her hand and dancing victoriously, she clambered down and headed to the bar.
Maybe Agent Washington would know where Dan was.
In her hazy state of mind, Louisiana completely forgot the fact that Washington had never even met Dan, and that Washington was probably still pouting over the fact that she had beaten him in hand-to-hand training. "Eh, rookie's luck" as he'd put it.
Nevertheless, Louisiana made her way across room. Albeit slightly unsteadily and with the room spinning dizzily.
About halfway through the crowd, she got distracted when a loud chorus of cheers arose as the aforementioned techno-pop trash morphed into LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthem'.
Louisiana cheered right along with them and abandoned her quest in favor of dancing with South, done with shoving her tongue down Mitch's throat, and a rather boisterous and pink-faced Connie.
Seeing who had joined them, the smiling brunette took the opportunity to yell at her.
"This is actually pretty fun!"
South nodded in agreement, her bitterness and seething resentment having been seared away by the multi-liquor-filled punch.
Louisiana shouted over the music, confused, "Why would you come if you didn't think it was going to be fun?!"
Connie looked at her like it was obvious; the consumption of a ludicrous amount of alcohol seeming to have lightened her mood considerably.
"What would you rather do?" She questioned loudly, still bouncing to the music. "Sit around in your room, bored off your ass and getting drunk by yourself, or heading into the raging party right down the hall and dance 'til you drop?"
Louisiana nodded in understanding. "Good point! But I didn't mean for it to get this out of control! I just wanted to dance and get a little tipsy!"
Then she added, as an afterthought, "By the way, you guys look really nice! I barely see anyone out of uniform, let alone everyone on the ship in civilian clothes!"
South grinned at Connie before answering,
"We've never really had a good reason! We're always training or on missions! We never have any time to relax!" Then she nodded at Louisiana's ensemble and said, "You'd don't look too bad yourself!"
Louisiana smiled in appreciation, thinking to herself that she never would have guessed South was capable of relaxing, and looked down at her outfit.
Her black, V-neck shirt was made out of a stretchy, shimmery material and the fluttery little sleeves tickled her mostly bared shoulders. The tight, ragged jeans she was sporting were the same deep fuschia as the streaks in her dark grey hair and one of the rips in the right pant-leg showcased a thick, age-whitened scar on her thigh. She was also very grateful for the worn leather of her "fashionable" (read: fake) combat boots, because she'd been bouncing on the balls of her feet for hours.
All in all, Louisiana thought she looked pretty good.
After determining that the compliment was deserved, she yelled back a South, "Thanks! I've got to go now; I'm looking for a friend!"
The two women nodded and Louisiana left just as the 'Party Rock Anthem' slowed down slightly and changed to Dev's 'In the Dark'.
Louisiana smiled, happy that whoever was controlling the music had finally stumbled over her personal tunes.
About halfway through to the song, she made it to the bar.
Wash was there, of course, talking to the bartender, who happened to be North.
"Hey, guys," Louisiana didn't have to yell to be heard, like she did with the girls, but her voice was still raised above normal. "Have you guys seen Dan? He's a little taller than me, he's in a pair of faded black jeans with an old 'Avenged Sevenfold' T-shirt, and he has a scar on his left cheek!"
The blonde-headed North shook his head but Washington, his blonde hair mussed and piercing blue eyes fixed firmly on his drink, barely acknowledged her.
Louisiana sighed in defeat, and turned around to lean against the bar as the music volume decreased and everyone started counting down from ten, following F.I.L.S.S.'s lead.
North looked at Washington then nodded to Louisiana pointedly.
Washington shook his head emphatically.
North rolled his eyes and mouthed 'coward'.
Washington flipped him off.
Louisiana looked at both of them curiously.
North gave him a look that said 'Just do it already!'
Wash looked up at the ceiling, as if asking 'Dear God, why me?'
North adopted a smug expression, sensing that the silent battle was won, and poured Washington a shot of tequila.
Washington sighed and downed it.
Louisiana opened her mouth to ask what the hell all that had been about (she may have been completely smashed but she knew when people were keeping things from her, and they weren't being very subtle), but she was interrupted by everyone blowing out her ears with a big,
"HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!"
In any event, she completely forgot what she had been about to say because Washington had taken a quick step towards her, pushed her against the bar, and firmly pressed his lips against her own.
To say that Louisiana was surprised would have been the understatement of the century.
She was nineteen (though most people didn't know that), and while her old friend Teri had stolen a few kisses over the years, she had never been kissed like that. Intimacy wasn't really Louisiana's strong-point.
His rough lips were gentle against her own, not so weak that she could pull away, but just so that she didn't pop him 'purely out of reflex'.
After a very long moment, he pulled away a fraction of an inch and whispered a soft 'Happy New Year' in her ear, his breath tickling her neck.
Then he placed another quick, lingering kiss on her lips, and disappeared into the crowd.
Louisiana stared after him for a minute, shocked at his strange behavior. Then she turned helplessly to North, hoping for some answers.
"He's insane," she stated simply, utterly incapable of coming to any other conclusion.
North shrugged and poured a glass of Scotch for her. "Maybe," he answered noncommittally.
Louisiana turned quickly when she heard her name being called by two male voices.
There stood her very own red-headed and Irish Dan, laughing hysterically at her embarrassed face, and York, who was wearing a troubled expression.
Louisiana gathered that they had both witnessed Washington's sudden burst of affection. She could feel herself blushing harder.
"Happy New Year, girl!" yelled the snarky son of the Emerald Isle. "Glad to see you're finally getting some action!" He said, grinning cheekily.
She rolled her eyes at his antics then replied in a fair impression of his accent. "I have absolutely no idea what that was about. Did you make a bet with him or something, Danny Boy?"
The ginger young man looked offended and shook his head.
"Whatever," Louisiana sighed, back in her own northwestern American voice. "Happy New Year."
"Happy New Year," repeated York, somewhat dejectedly. Louisiana noted his mood but couldn't come up with a reason for it.
She shrugged, very North-like, and downed her glass, very Washington-like.
Then she pulled her two friends over to South and Connie.
They had dancing to do.
If you asked Agent Louisiana what she thought of that night, she would think of everything that had happened.
She would take into account the pounding collective headache the entire she shared the next morning (which made for a very snippy and bad-tempered day) as well as the excellent pizza selections that night.
She'd think of how much fun everyone had and how everyone had smiled at her for weeks later. Of course, she'd also think of Wash's out of the tequila kiss.
She would smile in memory of the Director's face the next morning when he found almost the entire crew of the ship, including every single one of his precious Freelancers, cuddled up together and sleeping in a giant heap on the training room floor. With red plastic cups, a lot of pizza crusts, and hundreds of empty bottles scattered across the ship. And how he'd found her snuggled up to Maine with Dan using her stomach as a pillow.
Even considering the fact that she could never again wear her favorite outfit and that she, and she alone, was tasked with cleaning the whole place up, Louisiana would still grin mischievously and say,
"Totally worth it! Best. Party. Ever."
Then she would smirk and add,
"Of all time."