Author: Shelby (gateruner)
E-mail: gateruner2000 at yahoo.com
Feedback: yes, please!
Archive: LJ, my website. Any place else, just ask.
Category: Beckett/Cadman, Angst, Drama, WIP
Spoilers: Up to the ending of S3, EXCEPT that “Sunday” didn’t happen! No, no way, no how.
Summary: Laura Cadman is abducted off-world and rescued, but her nightmare has only begun as she starts to remember exactly what happened to her and what evil plans the Wraith have in store for humanity.
Warnings: This is darkfic people. Beware! If you don’t want the angst, don’t read on.
Disclaimer: They aren’t mine, I don’t own them, don’t make any money from them, just playing, honest.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
Hunger Strike, Part 11
Laura stared at the rumpled sheets on the bed, kicking at the covers absently. She’d been confined for over four hours now, as best she could figure. Sergeant Bates quietly led her from her cell next to Michael and into the isolation chambers where she now awaited whatever fate had to offer her.
She’d cracked under Michael’s mocking and meddling. He wanted to break her, she knew this, and yet she still let him get the better of her. Part of her still refused to believe that he had won in any way, while another accepted her condition and what she was becoming.
Absently, Laura ran her hands over her arms and flinched against the feel. The normally smooth and warm skin was cold and rough under her fingers. Her hands. Laura held them out in front of her, studying the twisted knuckles and ragged fingernails. Visions of her grandmother suddenly surfaced. Years of watching her Gram quilting, wondering how here frail arthritic fingers could manage to hold a needle, let alone something as coordinated as stitching.
Laura realized her hands were surprisingly similar in their look. And maybe this was a glimpse into her future. That was, if she had a future.
The door finally slid open and Laura looked up, giving an absent nod as the visitor entered. “I wondered when you’d show up.”
Kate Heightmeyer settled into a chair at the foot of the bed, “You were expecting me?”
Laura snorted, “That was a joke, right?” Laura knew Kate from the ladies poker games and they had hit it off quite remarkably. Kate was really a nice lady, once you got past the blasé doctor façade.
But her arrival heralded a different feeling for Laura and her stomach clinched nervously, “How many know?”
Kate opened her mouth, ready to lie, but then sighed, “Colonel Sheppard, Dr. Weir, Colonel Caldwell, and Sgt. Bates.”
Laura nodded. She’d already seen the pity in Bates’ face when he moved her. And the fact that no one else had visited her in her isolation meant they were trying to plan their next move. “Has anyone told Carson?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Kate cocked her head, “Do you want me to?”
Laura wasn’t sure if she was upset or relieved at that news. She sighed, “No, don’t.”
Kate studied her for a moment, trying to decide the best way to breech the subject at hand. “Laura, the human body responds to crisis situations in many different ways. An orgasm is a physiological response to stimulation and”
Laura cut her off, “Spare me the psycho-babble bullshit, Kate. I really don’t want to hear it right now.” Laura shook her head, the fatigue of the situation was starting to wear on her, “I’m sorry, I just don’t, okay?” Kate nodded and they sat silently. Laura fidgeted with the corner of the blanket, “And I don’t need you sitting here analyzing my descent into madness either.”
“Is that what you think is happening?”
“Hello?!” Laura mocked, “Have you looked at me lately?”
“You feel your looks define who you are on the inside?”
Laura rolled her eyes, “I want to see Colonel Sheppard.”
Carson fumbled with the vials, managing to get them secured in the centrifuge machine before his vision blurred again. His body screamed at him to stop, to rest. His hands were shaking and his head was pounding. But he couldn’t give up. Not when the cure was so close.
Dr. Biro appeared to his side and helped him calibrate the settings, then guided him down to a cot in the corner of the room. “I’ll let you know when it’s completed and we’ve tested it,” Biro gave him a sympathetic nod as he put up very little resistance.
“Be sure that you use the few wraith cells left for testing,” Carson barely acknowledged her reply before succumbing to his exhaustion.
“I’m sorry, Cadman,” John shook his head as he paced around the floor of the small isolation room. He’d come quickly when Heightmeyer had called him, hoping that Laura was going to give some useful intel. But intel wasn’t what the young marine had in mind.
“You owe me, damnit!” Laura spat. Even as every fiber of her being screamed at her for daring to speak that way to her commanding officer, another tiny part of her had reached it’s limit.
“Watch the tone, Lieutenant!” John barked back. He was still in charge and sometimes he even had to remind himself of that fact.
Laura kicked at the bed, “You can’t possibly know what I’m going through.”
“The hell I can’t!” John’s voice reverberated around them. “You think I liked sitting around mutating into one of those damn bugs?”
“But Carson fixed it!” There was hint of jealousy in her voice.
“And he’ll fix this, too. Just give him time, it’s what he does.”
“And if he can’t?” Laura looked away, “You owe me,” she said again, her tone more even, “You owe me the respect and the right to choose how I…” Laura choked and looked away.
“Go ahead Cadman, say it. Because if you can’t say it, then don’t ask it.”
Laura mustered up all the courage she could manage from her years of training, “The right to choose how I die,” she paused, “Sir.”
“Don’t ask me to do this, Lieutenant.” John ran his hands through his hair, “Carson WILL find a way, hell you gave him the cure!”
“That doesn’t mean it will work. We’ve all known that sooner or later our luck is going to run out. And I think mine just did.”
Carson moaned as he dropped the heavy box onto the floor, perspiration dripping from his forehead, “Bloody hell, woman! What have you got in here?”
Laura laughed as she meandered her way through the piles of boxes, “That would be my weights.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph! You could have warned a lad before you let me throw my back out.” Carson straightened carefully and rolled his shoulders back. He surveyed the new quarters before him. Boxes piled high as far as he could see, clothes scattered around the living area and into the sleeping quarters. From the edge of the living room, you could see the large platform bed sitting against the far wall of the bedroom. “I still think Rodney is jealous over this.”
“Yeah, well, McKay has his own prescription mattress. What does he need a king size bed for anyway?” Laura grinned.
Carson had to admit he was excited to stumble upon the family living quarters himself. They were spacious and had all the amenities, including a kitchen and dining area. They seemed to be self-sustaining apartments, and the fact that this particular unit was situated close to the infirmary helped in selling the idea to Elizabeth.
“I just hope you don’t think I’m going to be cooking you meals in that kitchen,” Laura groused.
“Not likely!” Carson let out a small ‘oompfh’ as Laura swatted him in the chest.
“I’ll have you know I can cook a mean lasagna,” Laura jabbed her finger at his breastbone. “But just because I can, doesn’t mean I will.”
“Says the woman who thinks that pizza contains all four of the major food groups.” Carson was trying his best not to smile.
Laura narrowed her eyes, “At least I don’t eat stuffed sheep’s intestines.”
“Going after a man’s heritage is a low blow, ye know?”
“What do you say we try that bed out, huh?” Laura waggled her eyebrows as she grinned.
Carson wiped his eyes, blinking rapidly as he tried to clear them. He had made a home for himself and for Laura. He’d become lost in his thoughts once again as he watched the sun set against the skyline, blazing orange against they water. They’d spent many an evening watching that sunset on the balcony, and he felt as though he could recall each and every one of them….
Laura snuggled against Carson as she buried her head against his chest. The blankets were thick and warm against the cold ocean air. Carson wrapped them tighter around Laura and himself, “Comfortable?”
“Mmmm, yes, very.” Laura’s voice was drowsy and content. They had just finished eating their first dinner in their new living quarters. And while Carson wasn’t ready to proclaim their cooking efforts as a success, it certainly wasn’t the worst he’d tasted. They’d both justified the less than perfect turnout on the ancient equivalent of a stove and how they’d need to get used to it. Laura was even more pleased when she realized that Carson could control the damn thing with is mind. “Ha!” She’d mocked, “Now you get to do all the cooking!” But he’d just as quickly pointed out that there were manual controls as well.
Carson leaned over and kissed the top of her head as they watched the sun set below the horizon. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it lass?” Carson whispered. But the only answer he received was the lapping of the water against the piers and the gentle snoring of his girlfriend. He smiled to himself and settled back against the balcony wall.
Carson felt like his mind was in a fog, his body somehow disconnected from reality. For one moment he knew he was in his lab, asleep on a cot, and at the same time he was on the balcony, watching that sunset.
“Dr. Beckett, Carson.” Hands shook against his body, trying to rouse him from his sleep.
Carson blinked rapidly, trying to clear his mind. He looked into the stern face of Dr. Biro and cringed. She wasn’t the sort of thing you wanted to see when you first woke up.
“The first analysis is complete,” she frowned as she spoke.
“And it appears to be successful. I’m moving on with the second testing and trying to synthesize the serum. I assumed you would want to supervise.”
Carson was fully alert and on his feet in a matter of seconds, “Let’s go.”
“Just relax, love.” Carson rubbed her arm gently, the pungent smell of alcohol filling her senses.
Laura nodded silently, keeping her eyes locked onto the one man that held her very life in his hands. No pressure. No, none at all. She squeezed his hand, “Carson, if I…” she faltered.
“None of that now,” Carson soothed, “I’ll not have ye telling me goodbye.” Laura felt the needle pierce her skin, followed by the cool rush of saline flowing into her arm. His eyes never faltered, his focus intense, as he taped the IV securely to her arm. Laura wasn’t sure if it was professionalism or personal avoidance that made him so determined in his task. Possibly a bit of both.
Carson raised his eyes at the sound of the mechanical doors opening, “We’re ready to begin.”
Laura shifted her gaze and watched Colonel Sheppard, Dr. Weir, Teyla, and Rodney coming around her bed.
“I was just about to explain the procedure to Laura,” Carson began. He straightened beside her, but still clasped her hand. “I’ll be placing Laura in a medically induced coma. This should make the process easier for her body to adjust to the retroviral cure.”
“How long will this take?” Dr. Weir asked.
“I cannae be certain. But, hopefully within a matter of hours. I know the transformation hasn’t been that accelerated thus far, but I’m hoping that we can reverse the changes quickly and with minimal side effects.”
Laura gave an involuntary shudder as she thought about what it would be like for them to watch her body rapidly transform back into her old self. It seemed surreal, but then that was life in the Pegasus galaxy. Laura tried to listen as Carson went on about DNA testing and how they would be drawing her blood periodically through the procedure to determine how quickly the cure was working. But her mind had already drifted. Gone beyond the science and the logic of the situation and the fear that had been clawing at her gut suddenly began to surface once again. She squeezed Carson’s hand and he patted it as he continued to talk.
There was a brief silence as Carson began to place the EEG leads onto Laura’s forehead. She took that as her moment to give her final ultimatum. “If for some reason this doesn’t work,” Laura swallowed hard. “If-if, I start to get worse or something goes wrong, promise me…” She looked up at her commanding officer and locked eyes, “Promise me you’ll order them to end it.”
“Laura, please don’t.” Carson’s voice was almost a whisper.
Colonel Sheppard shook his head, “Laura.”
Laura felt her gut clench at the Colonel’s use of her first name, the almost pleading tone of his voice. They’d already had this discussion and she’d be damned if she was going to repeat it again. “Promise me. Colonel.” She gritted through her teeth, clutching to Carson’s hand.
John nodded, and then looked away, his eyes downcast. Laura turned back to Carson, only to have him look away.
“See you soon, Lieutenant.” Dr. Weir nodded, as she gently placed a hand on her covered foot.
The group left the area, leaving Carson alone with Laura once again.
Laura swallowed hard, “Endgame.” Carson shook his head and leaned in to brush a kiss across her forehead. “Not today,” he whispered against her cool skin. Carson felt her breath against his cheek, warm and alive; a reminder that she was still human, a reminder that he desperately needed.
Carson pulled back and sat on the edge of the bed, “Ever been to Scotland?” He watched Laura shake her head, “No? Then I’m thinking a vacation may be in order when this is over. What do you say?”
“I’d like that,” Laura gave a weak smile and squeezed his hand.
“Laura!” The voice was distant and muffled as it called her name. “Laura! Do you hear me? You’re going to be late.”
Laura shook her head and rubbed her eyes as she sat up. She was disoriented and her eyes burned from fatigue and sleep. She shook it off and sat up further in her chair, realizing instantly that something was wrong.
The chair. The big, overstuffed chair that adorned her old bedroom back on earth. Her room, back on earth. And that voice… it called out again, getting closer and closer…
“Laura Marie Cadman!” The door opened abruptly, “I’ve been calling you for the past ten minutes.” Laura’s mother stood in the doorway, her arms crossed in a manner that reminded her of all the times she’d been in trouble, which were too many to think about at the moment.
“I – I –“ Laura stammered, trying to get her bearings.
Her mother shook her head, “Come on, you’ll be late for your date.”
“Date?” Laura was still trying to comprehend what was going on. One minute she was talking to Carson and the next….?
Her mother sighed, “Laura, honestly, I don’t have time to play games, honey. Your father is waiting for me to deliver a cake to Colonel Edwards’ family and I have to get going now or I’ll be late for visitation.”
Colonel Edwards? Laura grasped at the name. He had been one of her father’s best friends and unit commanders until he died. But that was years ago, when she herself was barely out of boot camp.
Her mother shook her head as she entered Laura’s room, picking up several pieces of clothing from the floor as she went. “I have never seen a marine be so disorganized,” She stooped over and picked up a dress, shaking it as she stood up, “And what was wrong with this dress?”
Laura scrunched her eyebrows together and stared at the material dangling from her mother’s hands. It was familiar to her, but she was having trouble placing it, like everything else at the moment.
“Here,” her mother pushed the dress into her lap, “that settles it. Put this on and get ready. He’ll be here at any moment.”
And she was gone, just like that. Laura picked the dress up and looked at it before standing up. It was a halter dress, black with spaghetti straps. There was a faded blue floral pattern running down the right side and had a fitted bust. Laura shook her head as she undid her robe, letting it fall to the floor.
Elizabeth entered the isolation room silently. She watched the nurses hovering around the edge of the room, trying to stay busy and out of their bosses’ way.
Carson was perched in a chair next to Laura’s bed, his eyes fixated on the prone figure that lay before him.
Elizabeth watched as he brushed his fingers across Laura’s cheek - Ran them gently down her arm before repeating the movement again. He was talking softly, almost a whisper.
She cleared her throat, making sure Carson heard her approach, “How is she?”
Carson gave a weak smile and nodded, “She’s making progress.”
“Aye, that it is.”
“I brought you some tea,” she offered the steaming cup as she spoke. “I figured you could use the pick me up.”
“Ah, bless ye.” Carson sniffled as he cleared his throat, “I appreciate it.”
“No problem,” Elizabeth squeezed his shoulder. She looked around for a moment, unsure whether she was welcome.
Carson seemed to sense her unease, “Please, have a seat.” He gestured to one of the other chairs scattered around the room. Elizabeth nodded as she retrieved one of the chairs, “I don’t want to intrude.”
“Not at all,” Carson stood up for a moment and took a reading from one of the monitors. Satisfied with the result he sat back down again, sipping at the hot beverage.
Elizabeth allowed herself to look at the Lieutenant for the first time since the procedure started, and felt her stomach flutter with hope as she noticed the changes. Laura’s hair was beginning to darken and her skin was no longer translucent, but beginning to turn slightly pink. The wrinkles were fading as well, giving way to the soft suppleness of Laura’s youth. “It looks like it’s working,” she breathed.
Carson nodded, “It appears so. I don’t want to get too hopeful yet, but…” he nodded.
They sat in silence, the steady beep of the monitors, the hum of the respirator, letting everyone know it was doing its job. Elizabeth wasn’t sure what to say. Offering platitudes didn’t seem like the ideal thing to do in the current situation. Things were looking up, after all. But Carson seemed bothered, distracted by more than what was going on before him.
“I love her,” he whispered.
Elizabeth took a deep breath and nodded, “I know.”
Carson turned to face her; his eyes red and swollen, with a weariness that Elizabeth had never witnessed in him before. “I can’t – I …” he swallowed hard, “If I lose her, I don’t think I can take it, Elizabeth.”
The agony and desperation in his voice cut at Elizabeth like a razor. It hurt to see her friend in so much pain, “She’s going to pull through. She’s a fighter.” It was a meager offering, but she couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“If it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t be in this bloody mess to begin with,” Carson sighed as he ran his hands over his face. “I wish I’d never experimented with that damn retrovirus.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth then shut it abruptly. She wanted to tell him that it was all for the greater good. That he had no way of knowing what would happen. No way of knowing that Michael would get the better of all of them. But it was all hindsight now, and none of that really mattered anymore.
Laura straightened the straps of her dress one last time before applying her lipstick. She gazed at her reflection briefly, trying to remember what it was like to look like that again – Soft skin, deep eyes, hair a warm honey tone. She’d never been particularly vain about her appearance before, but she’d definitely been aware of the looks she’d get from men; the eyes that lingered just a bit too long. Now it was hard to recall anything but the grotesque images of transforming into a Wraith. The way her hands twisted, her hair turned dull and flat and her skin dry and tight.
Laura shuddered for a moment then took a deep breath as she ran her fingers through her hair. There was no sense in worrying about it now, because she wasn’t disfigured and there were no Wraith in Illinois. Satisfied that she was as ready as she would ever be, Laura tossed the lipstick into her purse before grabbing her coat off the back of the armchair.
It was odd being in her parent’s house again after so many years, but there must be a reason, she thought to herself as she made her way down the long hallway towards the stairs. Laura had stayed at home several times she’d been on downtime, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to believe that’s what was going on now.
The doorbell chimed and she could hear her mother’s voice floating up the stairs as she came down. Her date had apparently arrived and her mother sounded all too excited about the man, whoever he was.
“Oh good!” her mother exclaimed as Laura reached the landing at the bottom of the stairs, “You’re right on time.” The older woman grabbed her daughter’s hand as she whisked them into the living room, “Laura, I’d like to introduce you to your date.”
Laura eyed the fair-haired man standing by the fireplace, his back to them as he studied the pictures on the mantle. He wore a charcoal gray suit, a nice one by the looks of it. Her mother was grinning as she pushed Laura forward.
The man turned around and smiled and Laura felt her stomach knot as she instantly recognized the man. Though she hadn’t actually laid eyes on him when he was completely human, she’d seen the pictures. And there was no denying who she was looking at.
“Laura,” her mother began, “this is Michael Kenmore. Michael, this is my daughter Laura. Isn’t she lovely?”
Michael gave a lopsided smile, slightly reminiscent of the Colonel’s. “Laura, my my, it certainly is a pleasure to meet you. You are even more beautiful than your mother led me to believe.”
Laura stepped back, almost losing her balance in her black pumps, “No. Nononono, this isn’t happening.”
“Laura!” Her mother grasped her arm, as she gave a gracious smile to Michael. Then she turned her attention back towards her wayward daughter, “What has gotten into you?!”
Before Laura could answer, Michael was by their side, “Mrs. Cadman, please, don’t worry about it. I’m sure Laura is just nervous, that’s all. It will be fine once we eat.” He focused his gaze on Laura, “Won’t it, Laura?”
Laura felt him pushing inside her mind, twisting his way into her brain as she whispered, “Yeah, that’s it.”
“Ye know what she said on our first date?”
Elizabeth shook her head, “No, what?”
“I would have taken one for the home team, just so you know.”
Elizabeth frowned, trying to decipher the meaning, “I don’t understand.”
Carson shook his head and chuckled, “No, I don’t suppose ye would.” He sighed, “It was during that date with Dr. Brown, when she was still trapped in Rodney’s body. She was determined Rodney wouldn’t blow it with Katie.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth took in his words, and then it hit her, “Oh!” She blushed and then chuckled, “I can only imagine what Rodney would have thought of that.”
“Despite all their blathering on about one another, she and Rodney really do care for one another.” He nodded, “Now, they’d just as soon loose a limb than admit it, but they do. And Laura can be almost as abrasive as Rodney at times, I think that’s why they get on with each other the way they do.”
“Well, they’ll have plenty of time to make up for that now.” Elizabeth could almost picture the two of them going at one another, neither one backing down and Rodney finally stomping off as he waved his hands around in defeat, a mischievous grin on Laura’s face. It made her smile.
“Aye, I certainly hope so.” Carson brushed his fingers along Laura’s face again, “I told Laura that I’d take her to see Scotland, when she got better. Show her where I grew up and meet my mum as well as the rest of the family.”
Carson reached out and took Laura’s hand into his own, “Then I want to take her to see the mountains and ask her to be my wife.”
“Carson,” Elizabeth breathed, “I-I don’t know what to say. Marriage? Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been so sure of anything,” he never took his eyes off Laura, rubbing tiny circles over the back of her hand. “I want her to know she’s not alone. That I will never betray her trust.”
Laura looked around the restaurant, trying to find an escape route. Something, anything that could get her away from Michael and this horrible nightmare.
“Eat, please.” Michael gestured to the plate before her, “You need to keep your strength up.”
“Why are you doing this?” Laura hissed through clenched teeth. She was trying to keep her voice low, but was still keenly aware that she was attracting attention from the other tables.
Michael picked up a wine glass, sniffing the liquid before nodding, seemingly satisfied with the bouquet or his answer, “Because I can.”
“Well you’re too late.” Laura leaned forward, “Carson is already administering the cure.”
“Yes, I know.” Michael began to pick at his fingernails, “It’s working quite well, too. I mean, look at yourself.” He gestured towards Laura, “You look just like I remember first seeing you.”
Laura took a moment to look down at her clothes, her hair falling over her shoulders, the smooth skin of her arms. The same things she’d been looking at and admiring prior to the date now seemed to signal some sort of victory she wasn’t aware that she had.
“Do you remember, Laura?” Michael slid forward, “Remember how it felt for me to take you that first time? Do you still remember how good it felt to surrender yourself to me? To allow me to take what I so desperately needed?”
It took only a fraction of a second for the pain to begin to seep into her palm, the loud thwack of the slap resonating through the restaurant. Michael clucked his tongue as he fingered his corner of his mouth, a small drop of blood smearing across his cheek. A feral grin spread across his lips, “I always knew you liked it rough.”
Elizabeth hadn’t known what else to say to Carson. What other advice could she offer a friend who was in love? One that desperately wanted his mate to be alive and whole again.
She wasn’t exactly an expert and personal relationships. All of hers had either imploded or exploded in miraculous ways. It was the sort of thing she didn’t want to think about too hard. But Carson had been and he seemed determined to make it work with Laura. And who was she to say no to that anyway?
She was getting ready to excuse herself, to allow Carson more alone time, when the first monitor began chirping - Signaling that something was wrong.
Carson was instantly on his feet, checking the readings as he grabbed his stethoscope.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Elizabeth jumped up as well.
“I don’t know.” He looked back at the monitors and frowned, “She’s in some kind of distress.” Carson moved quickly around the bed, adjusting the various machines and barking orders at the nurses that rushed forward.
“I don’t know, Elizabeth!”
End part 11