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Date in Calendar: 16 June 2007
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: Katie Brown/Laura Cadman
Summary: She feels a little like she’s got sucked into a bad romantic comedy.
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Disclaimer: No, I don’t own them. To my profound disappointment
Laura says, “Corporal, keep an eye on these three. Dr Brown, I’ll accompany you,” and it’s the first thing she’s said just to Katie since they gathered in the gate room – the first thing in three days.
Not that she cares, Laura can ignore her all she likes and it doesn’t bother Katie, but she wishes Laura’d asked for someone else to take this trip if she’s going to be like this. It’s so obvious she doesn’t want to be with them. Even David whispered, during Laura’s briefing, “What’s wrong with her this morning?” Laura glared at him and he shut up, so Katie didn’t have to answer, and it’s the first thing she’s been grateful to Laura for in three days.
The thing is, Katie’s not bothered what people know about her, or about them, and she thinks Colonel Sheppard probably doesn’t care either, but Laura is, Laura’s always talking about needing to be discreet, and now she’s ignoring Katie like she doesn’t care who knows. Katie thinks it’s not fair that she gets to do this and Katie doesn’t.
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” she says to Laura, who’s resting one hand on her gun and waiting, and it’s not until she’s said it that she realizes she sounds like Rodney, when he’s thinking about something else and being dismissive without meaning to be. Laura doesn’t even flinch, just steps up next to her.
Katie leads the way, following what looks like it might be an irrigation pipe, the first sign they’ve found of anything like this on their three trips to the massive greenhouse. She’s allowed to lead out here, because the whole place was cleared by the Marines before any scientists were even allowed in, and she’s hoping it really is an irrigation pipe, not another pointless bit of piping like she keeps finding, because Rodney’s threatening to send the engineers out with them next time to figure out why the plants aren’t dead after 10,000 years. Engineering and Botany have never worked all that well together: neither of them really likes to share.
She can’t figure out how she missed the piping last time they were here, since it’s not really camouflaged that well by the plants growing over the top of it, but she was pretty distracted by the amazing yellow flowers growing up the trunks of the trees, like fungi. She kept one in her room for two days, in a bowl of water, until she could give it to Laura to wear in her hair for the rising anniversary party later in the week.
David kept catching her eye at the party and smiling. Katie ignored him because they both know he’d have done the same for Major Lorne if they could have got away with it. If Major Lorne was the type to wear flowers, which he isn’t, so David keeps giving him potted plants instead.
Katie shakes her head, focusing back on the pipe she’s still following. She thinks Laura probably threw the flower into the ocean before the end of the party anyway, and maybe she should have known then that something was wrong.
The pipe follows the edge of the path, going towards the middle of the greenhouse, the foliage swallowing up the sound of the other three members of Botany taking samples and discussing what they’ve found. Laura follows her silently, and Katie could forget she’s there, except for the sound of her shifting her grip on her P90 – like they’re going to attacked by anything in a greenhouse, but she’s learned on Atlantis that there’s no such thing as over-prepared if you’re a Marine.
The pipe ends on a wall, or really it goes into a hole in a wall of a little building, like a groundskeeper’s hut. Katie walks round it till she finds a door in the smooth surface but when she reaches out to swipe the crystal and open it, Laura’s hand on her arm stops her.
“You don’t know what’s in there,” Laura says, looking at the building not at Katie.
“That’s why I was going to go in,” Katie says. She could shake Laura’s hand off, she thinks, but she doesn’t. “The Marines already cleared out here, they’d have said if there was anything dangerous in there.”
“I didn’t see it on the report,” Laura says absently. She lets go of Katie’s wrist. “Fine. I’m going in first.”
Katie steps back and lets Laura swipe the crystal. The lights come up as the door opens, illuminating what’s obviously some kind of water drawing device in the middle of an otherwise empty room. Laura steps in slowly, her P90 up, and walks a slow circle through the small hut before nodding for Katie to join her.
“Thank you,” Katie says, putting her pack down just inside the door so she can get her digital camera out. Hopefully, she’ll just need a few pictures and a vague idea of how the system works for Rodney to be happy, or at least to classify the mystery of the living plants as something too boring to warrant immediate investigation.
“Don’t touch anything you don’t have to,” Laura says.
Katie doesn’t bother answering her, just walks round the machine. It’s got what looks like a control panel, lights flickering below Ancient script she can’t read, but there’s a pattern to it, four lights and four pipes… She takes a couple of pictures of the display, then a couple from further back of the whole machine.
She crouches down to photograph the pipes going into the machine, letting her hair fall to cover her face; she feels like she does when she’s accompanied by some of the other Marines, like she’s wasting their time, and she just wants to get done and go back to the others, to the familiarity of the strange plants, rather than this boring water drawing machine.
She’ll be embarrassed, later, by her own lack of care in her hurry, but she starts moving forward before she’s fully stood up, and her foot catches on one of the pipes, where it’s not quite against the floor, and she stumbles, putting her hand out to catch herself. She knows where it’s going to land before it does, right in the middle of the display, and she’s not even surprised when the whole thing flashes blue, and the door slides closed, the whole hut falling into darkness.
She hears Laura sigh, then the light on her P90 comes on, bouncing across the floor as she moves to the door. A moment later, she groans.
“What?” Katie asks.
“There’s no crystal on this side.” She watches Laura push at the door, then lean her head against it for a moment. “It’s locked.”
Katie fights an insane desire to laugh, like she always does when she’s nervous. Her hand’s still on the panel, so she lifts it off, then, when nothing happens, puts it back down in the same place. A faint light fills the hut, just enough for her to pick out Laura without the P90 light, but the door stays resolutely shut.
“OK,” Laura says tonelessly, and raises her hand to her radio. “Corporal Andrews?” Katie hears her voice echoed in her own headset, then nothing. “Corporal Andrews, come in. Andrews, this is Lieutenant Cadman, come in please.” Still nothing. Laura fiddles with her radio briefly. “Control room, this is Lieutenant Cadman. Come in please.”
“Maybe something in the machine is blocking the radio?” Katie suggests quietly. She takes her hand off it again, the lights remaining on, and steps away from it.
“I guess,” Laura agrees. She lets go of her headset and turns her P90 light off. “Maybe it’s sending out a signal to the control room, though.”
“Sure,” Katie agrees.
“Andrews is expecting a check-in in –“ Laura checks her watch – “An hour, he’ll find us then.”
She walks round the hut, sliding her hands over the walls, feeling for gaps, maybe, then goes back to the door and tries to slide it again. Katie goes back to the display and leans over it, careful not to touch it this time. Not that they can really get more locked in than they are, but she’s always been a little nervous of the Ancient technology. Behind her, she can hear Laura sliding something into the doorframe, or at least trying to – she can also hear whatever it is slipping and scraping across the surface – but she ignores her, trying to find a difference between the pattern of lights now and before, or some switch that she could have accidentally triggered.
There’s nothing, though, and an hour’s not that long. She tries not to think about the plants growing right outside this door, the furled up leaves of the large fern they walked past following the irrigation pipe, or the speckled pink flowers on stems long enough for sunflowers, but looking more like roses…
She sits down against the wall, pulling her pack closer to rifle through the contents, looking for the notebook she’s sure she packed. She’s been meaning to look through the drawings she made on their last trip off-world for weeks.
She’s wishing for the notes on her computer when Laura sighs and moves to sit next to her, resting her P90 on her knees. She taps at her radio and tries both channels again, then drops her head back to rest against the wall.
“We’re stuck till Andrews comes looking for us,” she says.
Katie nods. She feels a little like she’s got sucked into a bad romantic comedy, but, considering the number of times she’s felt like they’re in a horror show, she’s not going to complain. Besides, she can ignore Laura for an hour. She’s been doing it for the last three days.
“I wonder why they’d want to lock people into a water plant,” Laura says. She takes a smooth pebble from a pocket in her vest and starts rolling it between her hands. “I wouldn’t –“
“You had dinner with him,” Katie says abruptly, flipping her notebook closed.
Laura sighs but takes up the new subject fast. “Just dinner. I told you before I went and I told you again when I got back, and this is the third time since then that I’ve told you.”
Katie clenches her hands together in her lap and doesn’t look at Laura, wishing she’d asked David to come with her to follow the pipe. “Everyone knows you kissed him when you were in Rodney’s body.”
“Everyone –“ Laura starts sharply, then takes a deep breath and starts again. “We went on three dates,” she says, just like she’s said every time they’ve had this argument. “It wasn’t working and I broke it off because I wanted to be with you.”
“Does he know that?” Katie asks.
“No, because I’m a complete bitch who’s stringing both of you along,” Laura snaps. She takes another deep breath. “I like you. I like you enough that I’m risking my career for you, but Carson’s a friend, and it doesn’t hurt that people still think I’m seeing him because I like my job and I don’t want to be court martialed.”
“I know,” Katie says, because she does, but it’s the first time she’s said it in three fights over the same thing.
Laura sighs, sounding tired. Sounding like Katie feels. She hates arguments, and she hates this one even more because she knows she’s being unreasonable. She just can’t help it: it wouldn’t be the first time her girlfriend decided she wanted to be in a relationship where she could be open about it.
“You had dinner with Rodney McKay the week before,” Laura says.
“You were there for our first date,” Katie says, smiling a little. “He spends more time talking about Colonel Sheppard than anything else.”
Laura laughs and seems to relax a little, her arm brushing against Katie’s. “And yet you still agree to go…”
“He’s – he’s kind of funny,” Katie says. She’s not sure why Rodney keeps asking her to dinner, never mind why she keeps going. She’s pretty sure neither of them think of the dinners as dates.
“If you say so,” Laura says dryly. “I don’t – I don’t want to keep fighting about this. People are going to notice, and…” She glances at Katie, then away. “I don’t like fighting with you, but I have friends here, and I won’t stop seeing them.”
“I know,” Katie says again.
Laura puts a hand on her arm and smiles, but it looks sad. “I know this is hard. It is for me as well. I understand if you don’t… If you want to stop.”
“No.” Katie thinks for a second how cliché it is that they’re finally doing more than hissing accusations at each other now that they’re stuck together, then thinks it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re doing it. “No, I don’t want to stop. I’m sorry, it’s just –“
“You’re worried I’m going to pick the easy option?” Laura asks. When Katie nods, she nods back. “I’m not,” she says quietly, and leans forward to rest her forehead against Katie’s. “I’m a female bisexual Marine working for the SGC on Atlantis. I can’t remember the last time I chose the easy option, and it’s worked out fine for me so far.” She smiles again, soft and without the edge of sadness, and Katie smiles back. She’s missed Laura, missed being close to her.
“I know,” she says. “I don’t know what happened to me.”
“You freaked out,” Laura says. “Happens to everyone. You should come to dinner with us next time. Bring Rodney.” She grins, and Katie laughs.
“Might as well feed the rumors,” she says.
“Exactly,” Laura says quietly, and then they’re kissing, hot and hungry, like they’ve been apart for weeks, not days. She hears Laura’s P90 drop to the floor and Laura’s hands close tight on her shoulders, pulling her closer. She lets go of her notebook, resting her hands on Laura’s waist, sliding under her t-shirt. She breathes out against Laura’s mouth, light with relief. It’s going to be okay.
Laura runs her hands up Katie’s back, sending shivers down her spine even through her clothes, and kisses her again. “It’s all right,” she murmurs, then, “Katie, Katie,” and leans back, pulling Katie down with her, in control and nothing like the first time, all elbows and knees and semi-hysterical laughter. This is so smooth, and Katie closes her eyes, just feeling Laura under her, the hard edges of her vest and her gun, the soft skin wherever Katie can reach.
“Lieutenant Cadman?” Andrews’ voice comes through the door, sudden and loud, and they jerk apart, even though there’s no way of seeing in. Laura’s hair is coming loose from her ponytail, her shirt pulled out of the waistband of her pants.
“Yeah,” Laura calls back, getting to her feet and pulling Katie up with her. “The door locked on us, we can’t open it from the inside.” She lets go of Katie’s hand and reaches up to smooth Katie’s hair.
“OK,” Andrews calls back, and then the door’s sliding open, and Laura pulls her hand from Katie’s hair at the last possible moment.
Of course, mysterious technology functions mean calling into the control room, and that means the engineers coming out to take a look, trampling through the smaller plants round the hut and disturbing their peace. The only good thing is that Rodney’s off-world so they get Radek instead.
Katie retreats back to the other three, taking Laura with her, and ignores the engineers as best she can while she works. It’s a lot easier to do when she can feel Laura near her again, warm and familiar and nothing at all like the cold presence behind her as they walked from the transporter to the greenhouse that morning.
The engineers finish up the same time they’re scheduled to head back to the city, so they walk together, and Radek explains to her, Laura and David that the plant had a touch-activated automatic lockdown against anyone without the Ancient gene working it. When Laura asks why again, David suggests that there might be something more to the plants than just how interesting they are for being nothing like Earth plants, and Katie spends most of the rest of the walk back mapping out a proposal for more intensive study of the area.
“There could be anything there,” she says to Laura, after they’ve dropped off their equipment and are walking back to the residential areas. “Medicinal plants, or rare species…. This is where plant-life on Earth started, something so important they wanted to keep it alive even after they left…”
She swipes her door’s control crystal and feels Laura follow her in. They talked about watching a movie when they were in the control room, but the door’s barely closed behind them when Laura pushes her up against the wall, already reaching for the zipper on Katie’s jacket.
“Think about it tomorrow,” she murmurs against Katie’s throat, and Katie holds onto her and thinks, tomorrow, yes, please.