DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything
else concerning SG: SG1 and SG: Atlantis belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret
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this and no copyright infringement is intended.
SPOILERS: Up to the end Season 3 Atlantis/Season 10 Stargate.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
This Woman's Army
1. A time to let go (Laura Cadman / Janet Fraiser)
Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go...And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over. ~ Gloria Naylor
She knew she wasn't the first. She probably wasn't even the fiftieth or the five hundredth. Dr Janet Fraiser had that affect on people. They fell just a little bit in love with her. Or a lot. There was something about the doctor that seemed to inspire that kind of devotion. And however much Laura wanted it to be so, someone else had got there first. According to all the scuttlebutt anyway. But that didn't stop Laura from entertaining thoughts. Regulations and reality couldn't get in the way of that. And if scuttlebutt was right, the doctor was family anyway. Which always made things like this easier. She might be an expert in explosives but Laura could do subtle if she had to. As she sat on the infirmary bed Laura Cadman had only one wish, that the doctor doing her physical today would be Janet Fraiser. It would be the last chance she would have to see the doctor in quite a while.
There was something about the little doctor that had just, well stolen her heart. From the first day she was assigned to the SGC when she had seen the woman berating a Marine Colonel who must have stood fully eighteen inches taller than she was, Laura Cadman had lost her heart to her. Apparently the marine had ensured her wrath by not taking proper care of his stitches. He just looked so hangdog that Laura was hard pressed not to laugh out loud at the scene.
Minutes later, the Colonel had been sent to a side area to have his arm re-sutured by one of the junior doctors and Laura found herself under that assessing gaze. Even though the doctor was a senior officer she never put on the same airs and graces that some of them did. She made time to talk to people, to find out about their lives. Within minutes on that first meeting Laura found herself talking to Dr Fraiser to Janet - as if she had known her all her life.
Today her wish was granted. The curtains around the bed flicked aside for a moment and there she was. Laura was unable to suppress a smile. The doctor was known for her frequent changes in hair style and colouring. She was favouring a bob at the moment, a sort of honeyed brown which looked good on her. A few months later she had gone very blonde for a few weeks which had just been wrong. Thankfully that phase hadn't lasted too long.
"Lieutenant Cadman off on your travels again," the doctor smiled, lifting her gaze from Laura's chart for a moment, the sight of her warm brown eyes making Laura's day better all on its own.
"Yes ma'am," Laura said. Janet efficiently dealt with her checklist of examinations asking Laura questions about old injuries. Her gloved hand was on the bare skin of Laura's back now, gently pressing down on scar tissue, the relic of a time when Laura had jinked right when she should have gone left in the same battle that had almost cost the Doctor her own life. "And you haven't experienced any undue pain or resistance when you move your arm." Her hand rested on Laura's shoulder now as she gently extended Laura's arm, sensitive fingers assessing that the Lieutenant did indeed have a full range of movement.
"No, Doctor Fraiser. It's healed really well, thanks to your care."
She could still blush at a compliment as well. "It was a team effort, like most things round here, Lieutenant. So we won't be seeing you in here for some time. The Daedelus ships out in three days?"
"Well, take care of yourself out there, Lieutenant. Don't go blowing yourself up. I want to see you fit and well the next time you're in my infirmary " she frowned, laughed at herself. "That didn't come out quite as I intended but you know what I mean. Laura, good luck."
"Thank you, Doctor Fraiser." Their eyes met for a moment, gaze held. She looked as if she had soft lips. Very kissable. For a moment Laura let herself imagine but no. Not going to happen. She'd never been afraid to seize the moment but there were too many things against her here. Imminently shipping out on a mission she might well not come back from being only one of them. She knew how to choose her battles. This was the wrong time. Wrong place. Definitely the wrong army.
The Pegasus Galaxy beckoned.
2 Remembering the Good Times (Laura Cadman / Elizabeth Weir)
Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember ~ Oscar Levant
The Daedelus was shipping out and this time she was going with it. Dr Weir had asked to see her before she went.
"Lieutenant Cadman reporting ma'am."
"Take a seat, Lieutenant may I call you Laura?"
"Certainly, ma'am," Laura proffered a smile as she took a seat opposite the dark haired woman. She gazed at her critically for a moment. The last few months had been tough on them all but especially this woman.
"And please, call me Elizabeth Laura, you decided not to reassign to Atlantis permanently," Elizabeth said. "We'll be very sorry to lose you. Can I ask did your decision have anything to do with the suspicion you came under during the recent Trust incursion?"
"If I could speak freely ma Elizabeth," Laura began. Elizabeth nodded. "I don't think you ever truly suspected me of anything, did you? Dr McKay was the only person to really accuse me of anything and well he still hasn't quite forgiven me for some of the things I did whilst we were close."
Elizabeth was unable to hide the smirk. "Kissing Carson Beckett you mean."
"That and giving his body a good work out " Laura clapped her hand over her mouth. "That did not come out the way I intended. I took him jogging not anything " she shuddered.
"I think we all realize that Rodney McKay isn't the one you would have chosen to be `close' with," Elizabeth said. She paused as they both digested that remark. "You still haven't really answered my question."
Laura shrugged. "I want to go home. Don't get me wrong, Atlantis is a great place and I've had some of the best times of my life here, done amazing things and met some really great people," she smiled at the expedition leader, "and I definitely want to do another tour of duty here in the future if I get the opportunity but "
"It's not home," Elizabeth nodded in understanding. "It's strange. Those of us who were stranded here initially... I think a lot of us have come to regard Atlantis as home. Earth has become somewhere we visit but this," she gestured around her. "Is home." She smiled. "I can't even pinpoint exactly when it happened What I am aware of is that without your hard work during the recent crisis we might have lost that home, lost everything we'd worked so hard to achieve here."
Laura remembered another conversation with someone else she had once entertained thoughts about. "Team effort, ma'am."
"Well, I think that underplays your own role too much but thank you anyway. And that's what reflected in my official report into the incident not Dr McKay's prejudices. You kept a cool head and an open mind." Elizabeth looked away. "Which was more than some of us did."
Laura hoped that her `permission to speak freely' still held. "Kavanaugh was a realistic suspect. He's been a malcontent since he got here. None of us doubted your integrity over that. You were protecting the base, all of us."
"I let my prejudices, my dislike of the man, blind me just as McKay allowed his prejudices to accuse you of the same crimes," Elizabeth shook her head. "You were the one who kept digging, looking for evidence. Without your assistance we would never have uncovered the extent of the Trust's sabotage or Colonel Caldwell's involvement. And that will be in my official report."
"Thank you, Dr Weir," Laura said. The other woman looked as if she was about to say something else then thought better of it. "Was there anything else Elizabeth?"
"It's silly really. I wish I'd taken the time to get to know you better, Laura. I barely know you and yet I know I'm going to miss you. And all I can do is say good bye and good luck."
"I'll miss you too, Elizabeth," Laura said. "Perhaps if you're back on Earth or I get another tour of duty here. Perhaps we'll get to know each other better then."
"I'd like that," Elizabeth smiled. Laura realized that her smile transformed her whole face from its usual serious outlook and wondered if the other woman realized just how pretty she really was. It was an expression Laura would certainly like to see again. She would enjoy having the woman as a friend even if she was certain nothing more than that would come of it. Laura had too much respect for Teyla Emmagen to get in the way of the woman's careful courtship of the expedition leader.
"So would I."
3 History Repeating (Laura Cadman / Sam Carter)
If history repeats itself, the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience. ~ George Bernard Shaw
Intellectually she knew it would have to happen sooner or later. Part of her wondered how she had managed to avoid it for so long. Running into Lieutenant Colonel Carter Sam Carter Samantha Blondie. The last always in McKay's Canadian twang. Having shared headspace with the man she knew all about his feelings for the SG1 team leader. The problem was that she had some of those feelings herself.
And there she was, striding across the parking area, large as life and twice as beautiful. Laura couldn't help herself. "Colonel Carter!" she choked out. She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks and knew she was blushing. Sam Carter, whose fair complexion probably did her no favours either when it came to showing her emotions looked impressed and puzzled by her reaction.
"Lieutenant Laura Cadman," Laura said, belatedly snapping off something approximating a salute. "Ma'am. Colonel Carter, Ma'am. I'm sorry not making much sense. I didn't expect " Shut up, she told herself. Just shut up. Right now.
She could tell that the Colonel was trying to fit her name to her file. "You were on the Daedelus and then seconded for a time to the Atlantis expedition. You came back on the Daedelus last week "
"Yes Colonel," Laura confirmed wondering just how much detail Colonel Carter knew about her time on Atlantis. "I er I was part of the security detail. Though my expertise is "
"Munitions. Yes," Colonel Carter smothered a smile. From what she knew of the Colonel Laura knew that they had that in common: a woman who liked to cause explosions was someone she could relate to. The Colonel's expression grew guarded for a moment. The details were coming to her now. "You went on several missions through the Pegasus gate." Laura nodded. "I remember reading the reports. You " She had it now, Laura could tell from the fleeting expression of nausea before the other woman schooled her emotions again. The Colonel had remembered: this was the woman who had shared consciousnesses with Rodney McKay. Probably a fate worse than death as far as Sam Carter was concerned. "You were trapped inside the matrix of a Wraith Dart when its power systems failed, but your consciousness "
" was inside Dr McKay. Yes. That's me." There was an expression of compassion and understanding on the other woman's face. Laura realised from what she had heard about the Colonel's exploits on SG1 that this might be some one who knew pretty much exactly what that felt like. She had been taken as a host after all.
"That must have been terrifying," Sam Carter said, trying to keep the revulsion out of her face and voice Laura guessed not just for the Wraith-experience but from having to be so close to Rodney McKay. "I've had some strange experiences whilst I've been on SG1 but that "
"It was terrifying at first," Laura admitted. "I had no idea what was going on - neither did Dr McKay. He thought he was going nuts. We tried to make the best of it and he did let me have control of his our body sometimes but it was very difficult for him. He "
She shuddered, suddenly aware that they were both still standing in the parking lot and that Colonel Carter had been heading out somewhere, probably home. Before she could say any more, Colonel Carter took the initiative.
"Look, I was just about to head off base. Do you want to talk about this somewhere more comfortable?"
"I have to report to General Landry, but I'm free after that until I start duty tomorrow," Laura said. "Where do you suggest we meet?"
"There's a coffee house in the Plaza off Prospect Mall that does great chocolate cake," Sam Carter smiled. "Dr Fraiser and I go there fairly often. She maintains it's a great way to inoculate yourself against testosterone poisoning."
Laura laughed at that. Though it had improved in recent years the ratio of women to men at both the SGC and the Atlantis base left a lot to be desired. "Sounds good to me," she said. "I know where Prospect Mall is I could meet you there in, say, an hour?"
" and the weirdest thing is that it took so long to realise what had happened, they all thought that my consciousness was still with my body pattern thing in the Dart. Only Rodney could hear me, of course, wittering away in his head. And he wouldn't let me take control of the body at that point. It took ages to make Dr Beckett understand what was going on. I was seeing through Rodney's eyes, hearing everything that he could hear but it was like I was a passenger, I had no control do you know what I mean?"
Her companion shuddered. "Yes, unfortunately I know exactly what you mean," she said. Catching Laura's enquiring glance she clarified. "Long story long, classified story."
Laura nodded, understanding completely. "Rodney wasn't very gracious about the whole thing. He blamed Dr Zelenka for fouling it up do you know Dr Zelenka?" Sam Carter nodded having worked with the Czech scientist on a few projects before he volunteered for the Atlantis expedition. "He called him some really awful things `Dr Fumbles McStupid' was about the kindest. I was in his head so I knew the truth, that Rodney wouldn't have done anything differently. Everyone was having a bit of a problem believing that Rodney hadn't just gone "
"Nuts?" Sam grinned, taking a sip of her coffee.
"Anyway, Rodney was coping with it all by either trying to ignore me or being totally condescending and I was coping by being obnoxious, I suppose. To make things worse for both of us he was trying to get a date with Katie Brown, the botanist "
"Oh god, you didn't try to give him dating advice did you?" Sam laughed.
"Well between that and Heightmeyer, the base psychologist trying to give us both `couples therapy' " Laura paused as Sam gave in to a fit of the giggles. "Believe me however bad you think that was, it was worse. Much worse. McKay was so keen to assert that he was the `dominant' force in the partnership. Not that he would willingly release control to me anyway."
"Yeah, I can imagine Rodney having a problem with that " Sam sipped her coffee and carved another forkful of her slice of chocolate cheesecake. "So inside Rodney's head I mean how bad was it?"
"He's a strange man," Laura said thoughtfully. "He's capable of holding two completely contradictory views about something at the same time and believing in them both equally passionately. About you for example "
Her companion got that hunted look again. "Me what does he think about me? Hold that I'm not sure I want to know do I?"
"He practically worships you," Laura said candidly. "Which is why I think I had such a strange reaction to you earlier. All the time I was in his head all I was getting was how if you'd been there it would have been all solved in a couple of minutes. At the same time he thinks you're pretty much a menace to society. He doesn't like the way you do things, the way you think, the way you rely on your intuition about things often in the face of the facts."
"Strangely enough we had a similar conversation. He called me an artist amongst scientists. He envied me. Then he called me blondie again or something equally irritating."
"Yeah that's McKay. After it was all over he was such a pain to me. Every little problem he seemed to blame on me." She winced. "I wasn't exactly perfectly behaved. When Rodney went to sleep I took over `our' body. I went to see Dr Beckett but I didn't let on that I wasn't really McKay and I kinda invited him on a double date with McKay and Katie Brown only without him knowing it was a date. I let Carson think that I wanted him there for advice and moral support. And then I took McKay's body to the gym and worked out for a while and then went back to my room I couldn't get comfortable on his bed. He woke up the next morning in a flat panic and well... things didn't really improve."
"Anyway, we talked about him and Katie and I I offered to help him with the date, feed him lines well, I didn't give him a choice really. Either I helped him or I made his life a living hell. He soon saw it my way."
"So how did the date go?"
"Not too well " Laura pulled a face. "He really is quite hopeless, you know anyway, I managed to take control and I er, kissed Katie on his behalf. And then I got us out of there. We had another huge fight let's just say Heightmeyer's `couples therapy' didn't get us very far. And then Rodney collapsed or I did " She shrugged. "It was all getting really mixed up, which was part of the problem. Our constant fighting for dominance was knocking all of Rodney's systems out of wack. There was a real danger that Rodney's body would fail if we kept going the way we were. But if I didn't try then I would fade and disappear. It was already getting harder to `speak' " She fell silent, remembering.
"You volunteered to sacrifice yourself so that Rodney's consciousness could survive," Sam guessed, a respectful tone in her voice.
Laura nodded. "I asked to take control of the body one last time to write a letter to my folks. I asked Rodney to deliver it for me the next time he Gated back to Earth and that's when Rodney figured it out."
"Using the Gate buffer system and control crystals as a back up for the Dart's systems," Sam nodded. At Laura's startled glance she explained. "There was an accident with the SGC's gate a few years back actually it was the first time I worked with McKay. There was an energy surge as SG1 came through and Teal'c got `stuck' in the buffer. He didn't rematerialise. It took us two days to figure out if and how we could get him back."
"He uses you a lot, you know, I don't think he's entirely conscious of it," Laura said. "And he's not well, he's McKay, you know."
"Let me guess the thought process is somewhere along the lines of `what would Blondie do if she were here," Sam gave a rueful smile as Laura blushed slightly, nodding.
"Anyway, so Rodney and Zelenka figured it all out and I said my goodbyes to erm a few people just in case - and " she gestured. "Here I am!"
"Wow!" Sam said. "So you managed to survive the contents of McKay's mind not to mention his personality up close and personal that's quite an achievement."
"Well, he also managed to survive the contents of mine. He hasn't quite been able to look me in the eye since. Or Dr Beckett "
Laura grinned. "He was one of the people I said good bye to."
Sam managed to smother a smirk. "Oh, you didn't. On a military base whilst in Rodney McKay's body, you planted one on Carson Beckett?"
Laura shrugged. "He's cute. And I figured if I kissed Dr Weir or Tayla, McKay would enjoy it entirely too much."
"So you and Dr Beckett "
Laura shook her head. "He's cute and a really sweet man, but he's not what I'm looking for."
Sam met her gaze frankly, a smile quirking her lips. "So, what are you looking for?"
'Well let's just say McKay isn't the only one with a thing for blondes.' Laura's mind supplied the answer she could never say aloud not just because in this case Rodney McKay did have excellent taste but for all the reasons she had never been able to pursue things any further with Dr Fraiser. That darn scuttlebutt again. Laura wished the two women all the happiness in the world, she really did.
"I don't know for certain," she said. "But I'll know it when I see it."
4 Not something you see every day (Laura Cadman / Vala Mal Doran)
Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle
Laura exited her quarters and came to a sharpish halt as a dark haired woman on roller blades whizzed past her heading down the corridor. The woman executed a smart turn, came back up the hallway, jinked around her, blowing fluorescent pink bubble gum as she gave Laura a jaunty and frankly lecherous wink before disappearing back the way she came.
Laura knew she was blushing. It wasn't something you saw every day, not even when your job was working on a spaceship traveling between two galaxies. The woman was Vala Mal Doran, one of the alien members of SG1 currently hitching a lift on the Daedelus towards the Pegasus galaxy and the Ancient city of Atlantis currently home to a human colony.
Laura had heard things about the other alien races the SGC had encountered. At best they seemed condescending, treating humans as a very `young' race. At worst they were downright hostile like the Goa'uld or the Wraith. Even though Vala had by all accounts once been host to a Goa'uld and was something to do with the Ori she seemed very different. Downright friendly, in fact.
She got to her duty station which was on the engineering deck for the moment and began a series of systems checks. Dr Novak and Hermiod were in a huddle at the top of the room, the big screen flickering between sets of what looked like engine schematics. Laura knew that Colonel Carter had been in Engineering most of the previous day and wondered if she had made one of her suggestions to improve engine efficiency even further. Part of her itched to go over and join in the brainstorming session but she was still a little wary around the Asgard engineer. Anyway, she had her job to do.
Eight hours into what had been an otherwise devastatingly normal day, Laura turned exited the elevator on her level and turned into the hallway towards her quarters only to find herself with an armful of alien. She was pushed back against the bulkhead, her senses assaulted by soft warmth, dark hair that smelt of some sort of floral oil against her cheek.
"Lieutenant Cadman, I didn't know you felt that way about me!" a smoky voice teased her.
Faced with the usual military dilemma of how to address a non- military, non scientific, definitely non-standard individual, Laura floundered for a moment. "Miss Mal Doran ma'am, I'm sorry I " Laura tried to step back but there was no where to step to. She was pressed against the bulkhead by the newest member of SG1, a pair of bright blue eyes regarding her intently, an expression that could only be described as mischievous on the other woman's face.
"Nothing to be sorry about, Lieutenant. I ran into you, remember. I should thank you for providing such a delightfully soft landing." Vala showed no signs of backing up. Indeed, the hands had been pressed against Laura's upper arms were now sliding over her body, skimming the edges of her breasts. Laura closed her eyes for a moment, trying to bring her reactions under control. The standard issue t-shirts had very little leeway for sudden perkiness issues.
"Actually I'm very glad I ran into you, Lieutenant or may I call you Laura?" Vala rattled on. "I've been on this ship for what five days now. And I still haven't found out what it is that you people do for fun. I mean I thought the SGC was boring but "
"There's a recreation room on the next level down " Laura suggested weakly.
Vala drew back just a little. "When I said people I really meant person. What do you do for fun, Laura?" She smiled.
Laura grinned. "Well, generally I like to blow things up."
"Really." Vala's eyes widened. "That sounds like quite a technique Tell me more "
"I was just about to go to the mess hall for some dinner," Laura said. "Would you care to join me?"
"That might just be the best offer I've had all day," Vala linked arms with her. "Shall we?"
It was a week later. Laura Cadman woke from a deep sleep to the not unpleasant sensation of a warm body curled against her, a cloud of dark hair skeining across the pillow. It was no exaggeration to say that Vala Mal Doran had turned her world upside down. She had never met anyone quite like her. She had also realised that the `Vala' that was presented to the world was very different to the `Vala' she had come to know these past few days.
To know and to love.
"Stop thinking and go back to sleep," Vala whispered. "You're going to need to be well rested for tomorrow." Laura turned onto her side facing her companion and ran a gentle finger down the strong lines of the other woman's cheekbone.
"Aren't you interested in what I'm thinking?"
Vala pouted. "Sleepy!"
Laura smiled. "Okay." It was probably the wrong moment anyway. She didn't want to sound corny or desperate. She closed her eyes. There was movement beside her. Laura opened her eyes to find Vala staring down at her, her face only inches from Laura's.
"What were you thinking?"
Now or never. If she had learnt anything from her time in this woman's army it was to take what chances were presented to you.
"Just that I think I love you."
Vala stared at her in silence for a moment. Laura knew that she wasn't imagining the sheen of moisture in Vala's eyes. This was part of the Vala that few other people saw, the Vala that felt everything so deeply. "I think I love you too," she whispered. She lay down again, her head pillowed on Laura's shoulder, her arm across Laura's body, holding her close.
"Good to know."
"Good to say."
It might have only been a week, but in a city that had survived ten thousand years it was easy to believe that some things might just last.
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