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Category: Beckett/Cadman established, Cadman/McKay friendship, Angst, Drama
Spoilers: Episode 02.13 - “Critical Mass”
Summary: Laura tells Carson why she won't be leaving on the Daedalus and together they confront Elizabeth about their life changing sitation.
Warnings: a bit of language and perhaps a bit of sap, that’s about it.
Author’s notes: This is the sequel to A Critical Mess. You really need to read that story first to understand what's going on.
Disclaimer: They aren’t mine, I don’t own them, don’t make any money from them, just playing, honest.
Laura walked slowly towards the infirmary. Her mind was wandering, trying to decide the best way to approach Carson. By now he knew the Daedalus hadn’t departed, so her presence wouldn’t carry the surprise it would have earlier.
She hated goodbyes, all her life she tried to avoid them. She had given her farewell last night, in a tangled, sweaty, sticky mess. Carson had begun to drift off to sleep and Laura had given him her usual spiel about not liking drawn out goodbye’s and tears.
He’d mumbled something that sounded vaguely Gaelic, which had caused her to smile in the darkness of his quarters. Laura kissed him on the forehead when she was satisfied that he was down for the count and began to slip out of bed. It startled her when he grabbed her wrist and pulled her back towards him. “No you don’t lass, not like that,” he’d told her as he wrapped his arms around her once more. “I want a proper goodbye.”
Laura acquiesced and slipped her arms around him, her head buried in his shoulder. She wouldn’t cry, she couldn’t cry.
“Promise me you’ll be back,” Carson whispered as he rocked her.
Laura nodded, afraid to actually speak. It was a promise she couldn’t make and they both knew it. She’d been called back to fight the Ori in the Milky Way. She wasn’t sure which enemy was more frightening, life sucking aliens, or all-powerful ascended beings. It was a toss up really.
She’d already resigned to the fact that she wasn’t going to have a say in her assignment. There were too many battles going on, and personnel were already spread too thin between two galaxies. Things had begun to settle down in the Pegasus galaxy, so that meant returning home.
But she was home. That was the thought Laura didn’t want to admit most of all. It frightened her how quickly she’d fallen for Carson and for Atlantis.
Laura rounded the final corridor and made her way towards the infirmary. Her stomach began to churn and she felt her pulse quicken. She’d been in more difficult situations than this; surely she could handle telling her boyfriend she was pregnant.
Laura stopped in her tracks as the thought registered in her mind. They hadn’t really discussed what their relationship was up to that point. Friends for sure, friends with more, absolutely. Laura didn’t do casual relationships and she didn’t think Carson did either. But neither of them had actually discussed the whole ‘relationship’ aspect of things. It was almost as if after their first encounter through Rodney that events were set into motion and a date, a real honest to goodness date, was just the next natural step. Then another, and another, until here they were, a few months later and expecting a child.
The infirmary was quiet, save for the lingering personnel who were putting up supplies. Laura stepped through the doorway off the main corridor and looked around cautiously. She spotted Carson off the side of the main ward, a stack of charts scattered around him, as he sat in a chair at the edge of a bed. His head was down, his pen scribbling against the paper files.
Carson’s voice filled the air and Laura stopped in her tracks, certain he’d heard her arrival, but relaxed just as quickly as she found the source. A small black tape recorder was just to his left, his thick accent blasting through the tiny little speaker. It seemed odd that he even used such a dated device. But it was the same one he’d carried through medical school, he’d told her one afternoon. Rodney had modified it with a hard drive so he wouldn’t have to use analog tapes any longer, since supplies were scarce. The one sacrifice he’d made in lieu of his many other stubborn quirks.
“Natalie?” Carson dropped his pen on the bed as he heard Dr. Biro’s reply come from the other side of the infirmary, “Have you seen the file on Sgt. Wilson? I can’t find the bloody thing anywhere….” He spun around in the chair, and surveyed the room, as though he expected to see the file materialize out of thin air. His eyes swept over her once and then back again as they locked in on her figure, “Laura!”
Carson grinned as he shot up from his chair, the charts all but forgotten. “My God lass, how long have you been standing there?”
“Not long,” Laura lied. She’d been there long enough to know she’d be a fool to admit it. “I didn’t want to interrupt your work; I could see that you were busy.”
“Oh please, no bother at all. You know I always love a visit from you.” The smile radiated across his face all the way into his eyes. Laura’s chest tightened as she watched the mischievous grin that began to grow out of it, “And I cannae’ say I’m all that disappointed that the Daedalus has been delayed.” The grin faltered a moment, “I’m saddened of course, for Colonel Caldwell, but I’m glad they found out and he will be fine after they remove the symbiote.”
Laura suddenly found her hands very interesting, she clasped them together as she tried to give her best ‘hey I’m relaxed’ stance.
“Laura? Love? What’s wrong?”
Laura shook her head and brushed her hair behind her ear, “It’s nothing. I’m just tired.” She gave a small smile and began picking at her fingernails. It was a nervous habit she’d never seemed to quite break herself of.
A pair of gentle hands grasped hers and gave a small squeeze, “He’ll be fine, I promise you, lass.”
Laura nodded and straightened her posture once again, “Look, can we talk?”
“Of course,” Carson’s brow furrowed and she could see the concern wash over his face.
She looked around and spotted Dr. Biro across the room. The woman was unpacking some supplies but she looked up and locked eyes with Laura briefly. Dr. Biro stopped briefly before nodding and resuming her duties.
“Can we talk somewhere a little more private?” Laura watched as the concern on his face skyrocketed as she felt like kicking herself. So much for easing into the conversation.
Carson nodded, “Sure, love.” He guided her to his small office to the side of the main ward. It wasn’t even really an office, Laura thought. It was more like a closet. There was barely enough room for a desk and two chairs. Laura heard the familiar hiss off the ancient door sliding shut and the click of the lock as Carson willed it to obey. Her stomach rolled once again and Laura tried to will that to obey as well.
She sat down in one of the chairs and forced her eyes forward across the desk. Laura had assumed he would sit in his usual spot, so she jumped slightly when she felt his hand on her knee beside her. “Laura? What’s wrong?”
It was the moment of truth. She’d put it off as long as she could. Laura turned her chair to face him, shifting in the seat, trying to find a comfortable position. His face was a mixture of apprehension and concern. Best foot forward, here goes…. “Carson, what do you think about us?”
“What do you mean?” Laura watched as a veil fell over his eyes, covering his emotions.
“I mean, us. Together.” When he simply shook his head, Laura continued, “I need to know Carson, I need to know how you really feel about me.”
“Are you trying to break up with me?” His voice cracked at the end and Laura realized he did, in fact, believe she was calling things off.
Laura panicked, “Oh God no! Carson, no!” She shook her head vehemently and watched as his posture relaxed a bit, “No, not at all. I just want to know where we stand, that’s all.”
Carson’s face contorted again, only this time it was in confusion than anything else, “Laura, you know how I feel about you.” He reached out and cupped her cheek, “My God woman, I’m mad about ye, you know that.”
Laura trembled slightly under his touch and she felt the tension ease with his words. She hadn’t realized how much she’d wanted to hear that until he said it. Laura sagged against his hand, nuzzling his skin.
“Laura? Look at me?” Laura blinked quickly as he moved his hand to her chin, gently prodding her to look up, “What is going on? Tell me what’s wrong?”
Laura reached up and grasped his hand in her own, kissing the back of his fingers before she removed it from her face. Sometimes action worked better than speaking. Laura slid to the edge of her chair, taking Carson’s hand and guiding it towards her stomach. He seemed unsure of her actions, but allowed her to pull him along. She uncurled his fingers and laid his palm flat against her belly.
Carson watched her face intently, trying to look for any clue as to what was going on. As far as he was concerned their relationship had been going great. Laura had seemed happy and he certainly was. He hadn’t wanted to scare her by admitting just how much he loved her, afraid that she’d go running off screaming in the dead of night. She was so damned independent that it almost frightened him. A part of him even wondered if she could commit to a long-term relationship, but when he was with her none of that seemed to matter.
He watched as she pulled him closer, taking his hand to her abdomen. For a brief moment he had a horrific thought that she was ill and dying. Something horrible that he’d overlooked as her physician, and now she was trying to tell him he was too biased to care for her any longer. But she didn’t seem upset, just anxious. Like she was waiting for him to figure something out. Something he should have keyed in on by now…. “You’re pregnant.”
Laura nodded and felt his hand jerk back in response. She gripped his wrist tighter, afraid that if she let go he’d bolt out of the room. His face went pale and his eyes grew wide. When he stood up, Laura really did feel like she was going to be sick. She released his wrist, slumped back against the chair and silently stared at her knees, not wanting to face the rejection of one Dr. Carson Beckett.
Even as she heard the chair slide across the tile floor and Carson’s figure emerge on the floor before her, it didn’t register. But as he settled onto his knees, and slid her own chair closer to him, Laura realized he wasn’t running.
She watched in fascination as he lifted her hands from her lap, kissing one palm then the other before leaning in and nuzzling her stomach. Laura gasped at the intimacy of the gesture and quickly wrapped her arms around him. She smiled as she felt him respond in kind. “My God, a baby,” he whispered, “Our baby.”
Laura nodded as he pulled back enough to look at her face, “Are you sure you want this?” She had seen the joy in his eyes, the love that had been there. And now it was all gone again, hidden behind that damn veil that shadowed his blue eyes, “I need to know, Carson.”
“You don’t want it.” It was a statement, not a question. Laura felt Carson disentangle himself and sit back on his heels. He stared at her for a moment, like looking a patient he wasn’t quite sure how to handle. Then, “I will back whatever decision you make. Just know that.”
Laura sighed and rubbed her hands over her face, “No Carson! Jesus!” She looked up at the ceiling, like she was calling a higher power to help her out. “I just really want to know what you want.” She paused a moment, taking a deep breath and then looking back down at Carson, “I can’t do this alone.”
Carson watched her face falter and he realized how scared she was. Laura wouldn’t ever admit to it, not out loud, but he could see it in her eyes. He reached out and grasped her hands, “Laura, listen to me.” He paused to make sure he had her full attention, “I will always be here for you, always. I, uh..” he felt himself blush and muttered something under his breath. “I just thought that maybe you wouldn’t want…” he shook his head again, “Bloody hell. I wasn’t sure about your career, love. I don’t know what this will for ye, if we do this.”
“I’m not sure either, Carson. I don’t even know if I can stay on Atlantis…”
Carson hadn’t considered that possibility and now it became all too real as his eyes widened, “Oh like bloody hell you’re leaving! They’ll have to drag you over my dead body!”
Laura actually laughed at the outrage in his voice. Carson Beckett, her noble knight. Who said chivalry was dead? But she had to be realistic about it, “You know its true Carson. And while I appreciate your sentiment, at the end of the day, it may not make much of a difference. I’m only a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. I don’t hold any special rank here, or have any special skills that set me apart from anyone else.”
“What about all your explosives expertise? You saved the bloody city today - that has to count for something!”
“You already heard about that?” Laura had to grin.
“Of course I did! My girlfriend is a hero! I have a right to be proud,” Carson sputtered as if he had to defend his knowledge.
Laura sighed, “Explosives technicians are a dime a dozen, Carson. I can name at least four other marines who have the same skills I do, maybe even more.” She watched as he started to get fired up again and stopped him, “No, Carson, seriously. I’m trying to be realistic about this. As far as the U.S. Government is concerned, I’m just another marine on rotation. Hell, I was already supposed to be gone from here now!” Laura watched to hurt flash across Carson’s eyes, “And no, I wasn’t going to leave and not tell you. I had already asked Colonel Sheppard for an extension on my orders.”
Carson looked hopeful, “How long?”
“Until the Daedalus returns.” Carson looked crestfallen again, “He said he couldn’t grant me more than that. That I’d have to talk to Dr. Weir about staying longer.”
“Then we will!” Carson stood up, “Come one, let’s go!”
“Right now?” Laura stood up slowly.
Elizabeth worked at arranging her desk once again. With as many times as they had packed and unpacked, she was sure she could arrange it in her sleep. How many times before had they packed up everything, with the feeling of impending doom only to be saved from the brink of destruction once again? Twelve by her recollection. She smiled as she thought about it, wondering if Rodney could somehow calculate the odds of that happening anywhere else but on Atlantis. Probably not. There was a knock at the door, “Come in.”
The door slid open as Carson burst into her office, “Elizabeth, we need to talk to you.”
He seemed out of breath, and almost wild eyed. Elizabeth had thought the worst of the situation was over, but maybe things hadn’t gone well during the symbiote removal, “What is it Carson? Is everything alright? Is it Colonel Caldwell?”
“What?” Carson shook his head, confused by the barrage of questions. Then he thought for a moment about how he’d entered her office, “Oh no, it’s nothing like that Elizabeth. It’s a personal matter, actually.”
Elizabeth noticed Lt. Cadman standing beside Carson and realization dawned, “Ah. Well please, have a seat.” She took her position behind her desk as Carson and Laura sat in the chairs before her. She noticed that Laura looked a bit pale, apprehensive too. Carson on the other hand seemed genuinely happy if the grin on his face was anything to go by. “Okay, so what can I do for you?”
Carson looked at Laura and she in turn looked back at him. She nodded and then looked towards her civilian leader, “I’m pregnant, ma’am.”
Elizabeth stared. And she stared some more. She blinked once, then twice. Surely she misheard something.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” Carson beamed.
No she didn’t mishear. Elizabeth shook her head to clear her thoughts, “Wow.” She looked between the couple, trying to discern the best response. Carson seemed to be bursting with pride, but Laura seemed more reserved, “Well, I assume congratulations are in order.” Elizabeth focused on Lieutenant once again, “Or…. Not.” It was hard for Elizabeth to judge the apprehension she was reading off the marine.
Laura looked down and then up again, “Ma’am? I would like to put in a request for permanent assignment for Atlantis.”
Dr. Weir gave a slow nod, “I see. If you don’t mind my asking Lieutenant, have you thought about what’s going to happen, how things are going to change?”
“Yes ma’am I have. I know it’s going to be difficult, I won’t say otherwise. But I want to try. I can work around the city, and act as a consultant if there are any off-world emergencies.” Laura had thought about it, a lot. During the brief time working on the city’s power grid and in between finding the command hacks, it was all she could think about. She’d weighed all of her options and considered every possible scenario her mind could fathom. “I’m willing to work out whatever needs to be done as far as negotiating childcare, clothing, and supplies.” Money wasn’t a practical commodity in the Pegasus Galaxy, at least not Uncle Sam’s. “I was thinking of making a deal with one of the Athosian ladies. They are such nice people, and I am willing to trade work for their assistance in childcare and supplies.”
Elizabeth was actually surprised to hear how much the Lieutenant had thought about her situation and how she could adjust. Though she’d really expected no less of anyone on the expedition, she was always amazed at how resourceful the people of her team were. “I see you’ve given this a great deal of thought. However, I still don’t see how this can be a feasible solution.”
“Elizabeth! Not thirty seconds ago you were saying congratulations! Now… what?” Carson looked startled and confused. Laura was really surprised that he didn’t see this coming.
“I know that, Carson.” Elizabeth was using her most diplomatic tone. The one that she reserved for the most tenuous of negotiations. Laura noted the fine line they were walking as Dr. Weir continued to speak, “And I am happy for you. Really, I am. But you have to sit back and look at the big picture for a moment.” Elizabeth paused for a moment before looking between the couple once again, “Have either of you thought about what it will mean to care for a child here,” she gestured around her, “in this place. I commend you Laura for looking towards that end, but have you considered all aspects of this situation? You would be practically cut off from Earth and your families. The threat of the Wraith constantly hanging over us everyday. Not to mention the fact that Atlantis is not equipped to care for children in any way.”
“Elizabeth,” Carson cleared his throat as he spoke her name, “With all do respect, I don’t really care about the threat of the Wraith. If we were on Earth, we’d have to fear the threat of terrorism and God only knows what else. You know that there are no guarantees in this life, not even in another galaxy. When it all comes down to it, Earth is no safer than Atlantis.” He looked over at Laura, “I am going to support her and we will do this together. I will be there for Laura and our child.”
He paused and took a deep breath, gauging Elizabeth’s reaction before he continued. Carson could see her mind turning, analyzing the data and thinly veiled threat as he spoke, “As for caring for the child,” Carson looked over at Laura and grasped her hand, squeezing it as he spoke, “I don’t think a child could be more loved than in Atlantis. This city was home to the Ancients 10,000 years ago, if they made it home, so can we.”
Elizabeth nodded, “Point taken, Carson.” Her posture changed and she leaned forward, “However, I can’t ignore the facts. As it stands, Atlantis is no place for a child. It’s dangerous; there are no safeguards in place or security protocols to ensure their safety. Not to mention the logistics of caring for a child while the two of you work.” Elizabeth could see that Carson was getting ready for another fire back but she forestalled it by raising her hand and quieting him with a single gesture. She motioned towards Laura, who’d been quiet through the entire tirade, “Lieutenant, don’t get me wrong, I am happy for you,” She looked towards Carson and nodded, “both of you. However, Atlantis isn’t the place for children, and I think you know that.”
Laura gave a weak nod as she focused her attention to the friendship statue on the desk. The figures began to blur as she felt the moisture collect in her eyes. Don’t cry, damn you! She thought inwardly, don’t you dare cry now! Her mind wandered and she was vaguely aware that Carson had started back up again. His accent growing thicker as his anger rose. It wasn’t until she heard Elizabeth speak again that she snapped out of her thoughts.
“Don’t give me that kind of ultimatum Carson, it’s not fair.” Elizabeth’s tone had shifted again, laced with a coolness she’d never heard before. Laura wondered if this was the voice that Colonel Sheppard had mentioned making grown men cry.
“Neither is trying to send Laura back to Earth,” Carson stood up, “If Laura goes back to Earth then I go back to Earth.”
Laura felt a lump rise in her throat as the realization of his words hit, “Carson! No!”
“Don’t do this Carson,” Elizabeth pleaded.
“Like bloody hell I won’t,” Carson had lowered his voice but it was still tinged with anger. “There is no way I am allowing Laura to be alone through this. You know if we were still cut off from Earth we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
Laura wanted to point out that if they were still cut off from Earth that she and Carson never would have met. But some things were best kept silent.
“I realize that Carson, believe me I do.” Elizabeth’s tone held a pleading edge to it now, “You must step back and realize the implications here. If this was anyone else, what would you say to them? As their doctor, would you advise them to remain here or to return to Earth?”
Laura could see the truth in her statement, and the slump of Carson’s shoulders told her that he saw it as well. He sat back down in the chair and cradled his head in his hands. Elizabeth sat back in her chair, her posture relaxing a bit. Laura simply looked away, studying a spot on the wall beyond the desk. It wasn’t fucking fair, none of it was.
Carson clasped his hands and hung them between his legs as he looked up at Elizabeth, “My statement still stands. If Laura goes, I go.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes and shook her head before looking down, “I’m sorry to hear that.” She took a moment to study the couple again, and thought about all that had happened over the year and half that they had been in Atlantis. So many new discoveries and so many losses.
And with that thought, she felt her resolve begin to crumble. Perhaps a child wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to the Expedition. Besides, they were in contact with Earth now. If it didn’t work out they could return to Earth. And if it did work out, then the Expedition would have a new member. A new life and a new hope.
“Okay,” Elizabeth whispered then cleared her throat and repeated it more forcefully. Carson and Laura both looked up as she spoke, “I’m willing to try and work this out for you, for the both of you.” Elizabeth watched as their faces lit up and raised her hands, “BUT, there are some conditions. First of all, this may not even be my decision to make. I will give my recommendations, but the IOA will have the final say. And second, this must not interfere with either of your jobs in any way. Of course, Lieutenant, you will be on restricted duty as Colonel Sheppard sees fit. But once this child is born and you recover, you will both be required to work your regular schedules. Childcare will have to be arranged at your own convenience and it’s up to you to work out a trade agreement with the Athosians if that’s what you desire to do.”
Both of them nodded and agreed to the terms quickly. Elizabeth smiled, “I never thought this would be a part of the job.”
Carson jumped up from his chair and grinned, “Yes, but just think how happy you’ll be Aunt Elizabeth.”
“Ye know my mum is going to be beside herself don’t ye? I mean, she’s been after me for years for a wee grandbaby.” Carson chuckled as they walked through the hallways. Laura found herself grinning, “Yeah, well don’t let it go to your head too much. I don’t know how often we can get home you know.”
Carson smiled, pulling her close as they walked, “I know lass, I know.” He gave her a gentle squeeze and then let go.
They laughed, turning the corner of the hallway. Laura barely heard the voice before she noticed McKay moving towards them. Carson stopped and she turned with him. Rodney was approaching, “Oh, Carson. Hermiod's just beginning initial calculations on the extraction.”
“Extraction?” Laura looked between them and Carson seemed curious, “Now?”
Rodney nods, “Mmhmm. Hermiod's gonna attempt to extract the Goa'uld from Colonel Caldwell using Asgard beaming technology.”
“Quite remarkable actually.” Carson nodded towards Laura.
“And complicated. The calculations are impossibly intricate. You don’t want to go beaming out a chunk of his brain now do we?”
“Lovely, Rodney.” Carson shook his head and Laura gave a chortle.
“Hey! Look who’s back! Mr. Mom!” Rodney cheered.
Laura turned to see what appeared to be Dr. Zelenka storming down the corridor. His face was covered in paint and his hair had been braided and weaved with straw. She couldn’t help but smile.
The Chez doctor stopped just past Rodney before turning around and pointing a menacing finger, “Don’t even speak to me!” And then he stormed off again.
Rodney grinned, turning his attention back to Laura and Carson, “So, speaking of Mom’s…” he waggled his eyebrows and grinned, “I take it you broke the news.”
“You told Rodney!” Carson took on the persona of a wounded puppy.
Laura gave an uneasy shrug of her shoulders, “He kinda knew something was up.”
“What do ye mean?” Carson looked between his girlfriend and best friend.
“Look Carson, it’s no big deal. Laura just had a little fainting spell in the mess hall. I was there and threatened to drag her to the infirmary if she didn’t talk. So, she did.” Rodney shrugged like it was a minor detail.
“Fainted?” Laura watched as the doctor mode kicked into overdrive, “And you didn’t say anything about that either! Damnit woman! Ye have to take care of yourself; you have to report these things. I have a right to know, as both your physician and the father of that child!” His voice rang through the hallway.
“Alright, alright! Settle down Carson, jeez! And don’t go all alpha on me either.” Rodney grinned as she used that all too familiar tone. The same one he’d heard constantly in his head for almost 2 days.
Rodney laughed as he watched her finger begin to poke Carson in the chest, “And by the way, let’s talk about this doctor business.” Her tone turned cooler, “You are the dad in all this, mister. Not the doctor! So get it straight.”
Laura pulled her hand back and swung her hair around, “I will not have you looking at all my business in the infirmary for months and months. The snickering is bad enough when you have to give post-mission check-ups.”
Carson muttered under his breath and started to walk down the hallway as his headset called him to the infirmary. Laura turned back to Rodney. “Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for earlier, McKay.”
“Oh, sure, uh no problem.” Rodney gave a wave of his hand, “I’m just glad you told him and everything seems to be okay.” He paused for a moment, “It is okay, right? I mean, you guys are okay?”
“Yeah, Rodney. We’re okay.” And Laura felt for the first time that day that things really were going to be okay. Somehow they would work out living in Atlantis and raising a child in the Pegasus Galaxy.