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Category: Beckett/Cadman established, Cadman/McKay friendship, Angst, Drama
Spoilers: Episode 02.13 - “Critical Mass”
Summary: Something came up, so Laura has to find a way to tell Carson just why she didn’t return to Earth on the Daedalus. And she finds herself confiding in last person she’d expect to.
Warnings: Snarky Rodney, a bit of language, that’s about it.
Author’s notes: This was a response to a challenge I found on Wraithbait a while back ago and now it’s gone. I don’t know what happened and I know I’m not mental, for the most part anyway. Someone wanted a fic where Laura was pregnant and that was the “something came up” reason for the episode. She confides in McKay before she can tell Carson. There will be a sequel to this one as well. And lots of love and thanks to tularia for her beta assistance and support.
Disclaimer: They aren’t mine, I don’t own them, don’t make any money from them, just playing, honest.
“A Critical Mess”
Laura sat on the edge of the infirmary bed, clutching the piece of paper in her hands.
“Crap,” she murmured. Laura had never been lucky, not one damn day in her life. It wasn’t enough that she’d ended up in McKay’s body. McKay! Fucking Rodney McKay! It also threw her whole body off cycle. Literally. And unfortunately, the cycle that mattered the most was going to be void for the next nine months.
There was a rustling of papers and Laura looked up as Dr. Biro cleared her throat, “I’m going to give you some vitamins and iron supplements. Unfortunately, we don’t actually carry prenatal vitamins here, but I’ll put in a request with the Daedalus for their next trip back.” Dr. Biro eyed Laura as she continued to write notes on her clipboard, “As for gate travel…”
“I know, I know. Suspended. As well as any travel of any kind. In a word, I’m stuck.” Laura sighed and put her head in her hands, crumpling the sheet of paper holding her lab results, “What am I gonna tell the Colonel? I am so screwed.” And how am I going to tell Carson, she thought silently.
Now that she was grounded from leaving with the Daedelus, she had to figure out a way to explain her presence and buy herself the time to tell Carson. Biro had only given her a 48-hour reprieve, telling Laura that she would “accidentally” misplace Laura’s file.
Carson ran the infirmary with an iron fist. He knew about everything, and that meant every thing that went on in the infirmary. Carson signed off on every patient and every lab test that went through the medical area. That meant he would see her chart and see the test results. And when he saw hers… Laura felt her stomach flip-flop at the thought, though it could have been morning sickness, she wasn’t sure.
Laura took a few deep breaths and blew out, before raising her hand to knock on the door. A few moments later a sleepy-eyed Colonel Sheppard peered out at her.
“Lieutenant?” Subordinates didn’t generally visit his personal quarters unless it was something important. And judging from the apprehensive look on her face, this was going to be a doozy.
“I… uh, I was wondering if I could speak to you.” Laura cleared her throat and quickly added a ‘sir’.
John nodded and stepped back, gesturing for Laura to enter his quarters. Laura did a quick survey of his room, noting the rumpled piles of clothes and massive amount of magazines strewn across the floor. She’d never figured Sheppard for a packrat.
“So, I assume this isn’t a personal call Lieutenant, what can I do for you?”
Said packrat’s voice broke her out of her thoughts. Right. Down to business. Laura straightened her posture as she looked at her Commanding Officer, “I need to ask for a favor, Sir. I would like to have my orders extended to stay here on Atlantis.”
Sheppard eyed the officer before him. It wasn’t uncommon for personnel to request a change in orders or to even ask for delays, but he sensed there was more. And he suspected it had to do with Carson, “For how long?”
Laura blinked at his question. She’d been expecting to answer the ‘why’ and not how long. “Oh, um… well, sir….” She shuffled her feet as she shoved her hands into her pockets, “Um… about nine months.”
“Nine months?” John had heard of extensions, but that was asking for a lot. Nine months, that was a long… Ah, crap. He closed his eyes and moaned, “Cadman, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“If you’re asking if I’m pregnant, then yes sir, I am.”
He shook his head, rubbing a hand over his hair, “I assume Beckett is the father.”
“And what does he say about this?” John was pretty sure he’d hear the dull thud of the CMO’s body hitting the floor.
“He doesn’t know yet.” Laura watched the Colonel’s eyes widen, “I just found out myself, I haven’t had time to tell him.”
John was still trying to wrap his brain around what was happening. Pregnant? Beckett was a doctor! Didn’t he know about birth control? “Look Lieutenant, I can’t make this kind of decision.” He watched Laura’s face pale rapidly and he was beginning to wonder if she was going to puke right in front of him, “And by that, I mean, I can’t authorize you that long of an extension on your orders. I can buy you some time, at least until the Daedalus returns again. You’ve got until then to talk this over with Carson as well as Elizabeth.”
Laura sighed in relief. For a brief moment she thought he was going to tell her she was as good as out the door. “Thank you, sir. I will, I promise.”
Laura was trying to stay focused on her work. Carson was on duty now and that meant she wouldn’t be able to talk to him for several more hours. She turned her attention back to the panel before her. Colonel Caldwell had only been briefed that she wouldn’t be departing, due to some vague reason she wasn’t even sure Biro had come up with. But it still left her with confronting Carson as well as Dr. Weir.
She entered a series of commands on the small input device in her hand. Since she wasn’t leaving on the Deadalus, she had taken to finding whatever work she could; besides staying busy, it would help make the time pass more quickly. Laura had just started running some routine maintenance on the power grid of the city, when she heard a very familiar but somewhat irritating voice coming closer her way.
“Cadman! What are you doing here?”
Crap. Could the day get any worse? Under normal circumstances, she’d love the chance to mess with Rodney. But not today, not with all she had to think about. She turned to find him approaching with Colonel Sheppard. “Well it’s good to see you too, Rodney.” Avoiding the question was always a good start.
“No, I thought you were leaving on the Daedalus.” Rodney appeared to be flustered at her presence.
“I was, but something came up. I asked Colonel Sheppard if I could stay around a little while longer.” She glanced at the Colonel, wondering if he had kept her secret.
“Oh, well, that’s fine.” Apparently he had. Rodney seemed clueless.
“You okay with that?” Rodney really seemed upset that she was staying. Was she that intolerable?
“Yeah, of course, why wouldn’t it be?” Rodney was trying to remain much more passive than was necessary.
Laura decided that he was still uncomfortable after their little incident together. She grinned a bit at the thought, and then nodded towards her C.O., “Colonel.” He acknowledged her as she passed by and Laura glanced over her shoulder at Rodney before she took off for the nearest bathroom. It was going to be a long day.
The day was longer than Laura could have ever imagined. News of a possible bomb on Atlantis spread quickly and all personnel were called up to help with the investigation. After the initial briefing, Laura was tracked down by McKay and Dr. Weir. Colonel Sheppard had informed them both of her expertise in explosives and Rodney seemed a bit shell shocked.
“Explosives expert, huh?” he asked again. It was the third time now, and Laura was pretty sure nothing had changed since the last time he asked.
“High temperature and energetic materials technology,” she replied. Then she turned to give an all out grin, “And I can tap dance, too.” That gave her just the reaction she’d hoped for as Rodney rolled his eyes. Yup, just what she wanted. It was all too easy to bait the scientist.
She’d been helping out in the control room when word of the Daedelus’ arrival came through. “I’ll go tell Dr. Weir,” Laura offered to Chuck. He nodded as she stood up, a wave of nausea washing over her. She gripped the side of the table, steadying herself before she attempted to move.
“Are you okay, Lieutenant?”
“I’m fine.” She forced herself to breath deeply, hoping to God she didn’t puke right there in front of everyone. If this was what she had to look forward to…. ugh, it just made her more nauseated to think about it.
Satisfied that she wouldn’t lose her breakfast right there on the control room floor, Laura headed towards Dr. Weir’s office. She could hear McKay’s voice floating into the corridor and she absently rolled her eyes as she approached. She could see him looming in the doorway of the leader’s office. It wasn’t until she was about ten feet away that she heard her name mentioned, causing her to halt her progress.
“What?” The Colonel’s voice sounded shocked.
“Hear me out. She’s an explosive expert. She was all set to leave on the Daedalus, but, uh, asked to stay when “something came up”? She’s always around when things happen. When the distress beacon started...” What the hell was McKay insinuating?
“She’s one of the most trusted people in my command. Not to mention the fact that she was stuck in your head for some time.” At least Colonel Sheppard believed in her.
“Do you always have to keep bringing that up!” Rodney snapped.
“I keep bringing it up because you of all people should know she’d never do something like that.”
“Well, maybe she was brainwashed, huh? The Goa’uld are very clever when it comes to things like manipulating…” Okay, it was time to put a stop to this crap! Laura moved forward and approached the doorway, “Excuse me, Dr. Weir.”
“Yes.” Elizabeth looked over the two men before her and gazed at Laura.
“Flight just confirmed that the Daedalus has landed alongside the East Pier.” Laura could feel the unease radiating off of McKay.
“Thank you,” Dr. Weir nodded and gave a terse smile.
Laura considered saying something else, letting all of them know she’d overheard their conversation, but decided to let it go. She gave Rodney a stern look behind his back before returning to the control room.
It actually hurt that Rodney didn’t believe in her. Hell, he was right there when the alarm went off! Lots of people were. So why would he believe that she was involved? At least the Colonel had some faith in her. She wondered briefly if the only reason he believed in her was because he knew she was pregnant.
Laura had to prove she wasn’t working with the Trust or the Goa’uld, but how? She grabbed the laptop and began scrolling through the system command logs. If someone wanted to trigger an overload of the ZPM, it was the best access point. Trying to physically tamper with the device would be foolish, not to mention possibly lethal. Whoever was working with the Trust must have a pretty big security clearance, even by Atlantis standards.
She quickly began scrolling through the city’s operating system looking for anything that might give a clue as to what was happening. Everything in Atlantis was run by the OS. Wherever the saboteur got their Intel they had to know it all began with the base code. Assuming this whole plan started from Earth, the person would have probably initiated something on their end. The Data Streams were the best possible way. Everything was immediately downloaded and stored on the Atlantis systems without ever scanning for possible viruses or threats. It was just assumed that if it came from the SGC, it was good. That may change from now on….
“What are you doing?” Rodney’s voice drifted over her shoulder.
Laura glanced over at McKay as he approached, “I was going over the systems command logs for the past few months.”
“Why?” Rodney folded his arms, waiting for her reply.
“I noticed a gap in one of the data stream sequences from several weeks ago. It’s probably nothing but I thought it might indicate a…”
“A deletion point, yes.” Rodney interrupted, looking exasperated. “Believe it or not, I have had some experience with these systems; more, say, than a tap-dancing explosives expert.”
Ouch, that hurt! Laura hid her discomfort while trying not to murder the man at the same time, “I was just trying to help, Rodney.”
“Hey, here’s a thought – failsafe code. Why don’t you help with that?” Rodney’s voice seemed more sarcastic than usual.
Laura felt her gut clench with his words. Besides his usual condescending tone it held something else, something she didn’t want to think about. She recalled the conversation she overheard as McKay fingered her as a suspect. Part of her wanted to jump up at yell at him for that, but that probably wasn’t the best solution. She was about to reply when he looked away and activated his headset. Laura watched as he walked away, talking to Elizabeth, gesturing towards the consoles.
After everything they’d been through, Rodney still didn’t have any faith in her, not to mention trust. Laura blinked her eyes rapidly, focusing on the code scrolling before her as a lump began to rise in her throat. It wasn’t like her to be so damn emotional over things, particularly a snarky astrophysicist. Hormones. Yeah, it had to be those damned hormones.
Laura took her tray to the corner of the mess hall and dropped it on the table with a resounding thud. It pretty much sounded like she felt as she slumped down in the chair. She’d made a beeline out of the conference room once the debriefing was over, not wanting to listen to everyone congratulate Rodney, once again, for saving the day.
It was childish and petty even, and Laura hated herself for feeling that way. But dammit, she’d been the one to find it! She had discovered who the Trust operative was, even after Rodney had berated her for going through the system logs. Part of her wanted to stick her tongue out at the arrogant man and say, “Nah! I told you so!” Of course this was just one thing in a series of events that Laura wanted to call the scientist to the mat for.
After Laura located the deletion points and tracked down the access code, she was amazed to discover who it belonged to. She had stared at the screen in disbelief as Colonel Caldwell’s name flashed back to her. Maybe Rodney had been right, you just never knew who you could trust. Laura never would have suspected the Colonel.
She grabbed the fork off the tray and began to push the brown rice pilaf around the plate. Her stomach rolled at the thought of food and she tossed the fork down, pushing the tray away from her. Laura sighed as she gazed out at the ocean from the window. Now that the current crisis was resolved, she needed to focus her attention back to her own problems. Or, problem. Instinctively, she lowered her hand to her belly, her fingers splaying across her shirt. She was pregnant! She was really pregnant. Her stomach churned again and Laura moaned as she lowered her head into her other hand, clutching her stomach slightly.
“Uh, Cadman?” There was a rustling next to her table, “Are you okay?”
Laura straightened her posture as she looked into the face of Rodney McKay. He was holding a tray of his own, laden with jell-o, pudding and fruit, looking like a frightened cat, ready to bolt at any moment. “Yeah, I’m fine Rodney, what do you want?”
A look of hurt flashed before his eyes, but then it was gone, “I, uh, I was just wondering if you were okay, that’s all. You looked a bit pale there for a moment.” He was still standing there, like he was waiting for something.
She contemplated telling him to fuck off and mind his own damn business, but decided she didn’t have the energy or the will at that moment. Laura settled on being polite. “I’m fine, McKay.” Laura shifted in her chair, picking up her fork, “C’mon have a seat. I won’t bite.”
He seemed to relax a bit at her invitation and he slid into the chair across from her. Rodney tapped on his tray for a few moments as Laura began to cautiously eat her meal. Satisfied that the first bite wasn’t going to reappear she relaxed back into her chair, grabbing her glass of water.
Rodney cleared his throat, “Uh, good job, by the way.”
Laura sipped the water cautiously then put the glass back down, “For what?”
“You know, with the, uh…” Rodney gestured with his hand, spinning his fingers around in the air.
Laura did know, but she really wanted to hear him say it, “No, I don’t know. Tell me.”
Rodney rolled his eyes, “The code, Cadman. For, for tracking down the access code and exposing the Trust operative so that we could override the failsafes and save the entire city from certain annihilation.” He paused for a moment, then shifted in his seat, “Well done.”
Laura was moved by how sincere his last words were. Even now she could still see that he meant it. A compliment from Rodney McKay, who would have thought? “Wow, Rodney, I don’t know what to say…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s not make a big deal out of it or anything.” Rodney plucked up a cup of blue jell-o, “It’s not as though I couldn’t have traced it down myself.”
Laura nodded, “Yeah, I know, McKay.”
“And, uh,” Rodney began to talk while eating, “Dr. Weir and Colonel Sheppard both agreed they were going to put in a request that you receive a commendation for your work.”
“A commendation? Really?” She was truly surprised.
“Why not?! You deserve it. After all, if it hadn’t been for you, we might be vaporized right now.” Rodney mocked.
Laura grinned, “Why Rodney, are you saying you needed me?”
“Hmpfh.” Rodney tossed down one empty jell-o cup and reached for another, “Hardly.”
“I think you aaaarrreee!” Cadman singsonged.
“Oh that’s real mature Cadman. How old are you again?”
Laura was about to tease him again when a wave of dizziness washed over her. She gripped the edge of the table, taking slow and deep breaths.
She could hear the concern in his voice, but Laura didn’t trust her mouth to speak. She simply shook her head, only adding to the dizziness. At the moment she was more afraid that she’d lose what little food she had managed to keep down. She felt Rodney’s hand on her arm, before her vision dimmed and darkness fell around her.
“Help!” Rodney hollered across the mess hall as he lowered Laura out of the chair and onto the floor. He’d barely made it around the corner of the table before she completely blacked out. The mess hall was relatively empty, save for a people in the back of the room. He was about to call out again when he heard Laura moan and begin to move.
“Laura? Laura?” Rodney shook her arms, trying to revive her.
“Rodney?” Laura blinked against the harsh light of the room. She managed to sit herself up, despite his protests. She looked around, grateful they didn’t have an audience. “What happened?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing.” Rodney had never seen her look so pale or weak. “Come on, we should get you to the infirmary, have Carson check you out.”
The infirmary? Carson? Laura shook her head, “No!” Instantly she regretted the movement as the dizziness returned. She moaned, closing her eyes and leaning against the leg of the table.
“Laura, don’t be an idiot! You just passed out, something is obviously wrong.”
“Nothing is wrong, Rodney.” Laura took deep, steady breaths.
“And you just happen to pass out on occasion?” Rodney knew he tended to be a bit overzealous when it came to health issues, but this truly warranted concern.
“No.” Laura felt the dizziness begin to fade and the nausea subside a bit. She continued to breathe as she had before, not wanting to risk a repeat. “I think I can get up.” Before Rodney could protest she’d managed to hoist herself back into her chair, and straighten her clothes and hair.
Rodney plopped back down into his chair and stared at the Lieutenant. She wouldn’t look at him, her eyes downcast at her tray. “Alright Laura, spill it.”
A look of horror crossed her face, then she was impassive, “Spill what?”
“This, this whatever it is that’s going on with you. You obviously know, and you don’t want Carson to know. I got that.”
There wasn’t any real point in hiding it from Rodney, he was either going to make her talk or drag her to the infirmary. She looked across the table and squared her shoulders, “I’m pregnant.”
Rodney stared for a moment then started laughing, “Oh c’mon Cadman! You can do better than that.” He snorted, “Pregnant, please!”
Laura looked at him like he was crazy, as he continued to laugh. He looked back up at her and realization dawned, “Oh crap. You’re serious aren’t you?”
“Yes, Rodney. I am.”
He still seemed shocked, “But you…. And then you…. And you and Carson, you were just… and then….you guys, um….” Rodney wasn’t sure what to say, “Wow. Pregnant, huh? The first Atlantean-Earth Pegasus kid. Cool.”
Laura nodded, “I dunno, maybe. Depends on what Dr. Weir says.”
“Oh, well I’m sure she’ll be thrilled.”
“I don’t know, Rodney. Atlantis isn’t exactly the place for a kid.” Laura looked around the mess hall, gesturing to the city in general, “Not really any kid friendly daycares around either.”
“Yeah, true.” Rodney hadn’t really thought about it all that much. “I’m sure Dr. Weir will work something out. I mean, after all it is you and Carson we are talking about.”
Laura’s eyes flashed, “I don’t want favoritism Rodney!”
Whoa, mood swing? Rodney shifted in his seat again, “I wasn’t implying that you..”
“Yes you were!” Her eyes narrowed.
Oh boy, definite mood swing. At least an 8 on the Richter scale, not good. Damage control, McKay, damage control. “I just meant that it would be a good thing, you know. A baby might be just what this expedition needs.”
Laura slumped back in her chair, her mood shifting once again, “I won’t get to go off-world, I can’t do anything that might possibly be dangerous or life-threatening to the baby. That’s all there is in Atlantis. What will I do?” She sounded afraid, even lost. Rodney noticed her eyes beginning to moisten as she gently gnawed at her bottom lip.
Rodney was trying to decide what to say. He could see she was upset, but he wasn’t good with this kind of stuff. Emotions were so unpredictable. People didn’t follow equations or any set of mathematical laws that he understood. He was still searching for something to say when he heard his name called across the mess hall.
“McKay! There you are!” Colonel Sheppard sauntered up to the table, followed closely by Ronon, “I thought you were going to wait for us.”
Rodney had never been so grateful for a reprieve, “Oh, Colonel. I was just having a snack.” He looked over at Laura who was staring intently out the window. “And I ran into Laura, so I thought I’d come over at tell her the good news.” Rodney loved beating the Colonel to the punch on anything.
“Rodney, I was gonna tell her!” He whacked the scientist upside the head. “Can’t you keep your big mouth shut, just for once?”
John sighed, and turned to Laura, “Good work, Lieutenant.”
Laura turned to her C.O. and gave a nod and slight smile, “Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. For everything.” She nodded again, hoping he understood.
“Of course.” John wasn’t sure what else to say, so he stood there, silently. A few moments ticked by in an awkward silence. And then, “Oh! Hey, by the way. I think Carson is back from helping Teyla transport Charin back to the mainland.”
Laura had heard about Teyla’s friend during the ordeal. She also heard about how Carson had stubbornly wanted to treat the ailing lady, landing himself and Teyla in a serious disagreement. She wasn’t sure what kind of mood Carson would be in after all of that, and wondered if she should wait. She looked up into the face of her C.O. and realized waiting probably wasn’t a good idea. “I guess I’ll go see him then.”
John nodded as Laura gathered her tray. She glanced at Rodney before she left, “Thanks Rodney.”
“Oh, sure.” Rodney nodded back, “And, uh, good luck!”