Title: Aching
Author: Illman
Category: gen
Warnings: none
Spoilers: Duet
Rating: G / FRC
Disclaimer: It's not my universe.
Author's Notes: Beta by DianeM
Challenge: Laura's feelings were starting to bleed through.


String beans with meat loaf and cherry jell-o for dessert had been on the menu. Rodney would always remember that. It had been his lucky meal. They'd served it in one cafeteria or another the day of his viva, the day he'd buried his father and the day he'd been assigned to Atlantis. It had to be his lucky day.

Rodney had just put the first spoon of jell-o in his mouth when Laura Cadman started his downfall.

It's not fair. It's really not fair. You get to decide everything. Have you ever considered that I might not even like string beans with meatloaf and red jell-o?

Rodney tried to ignore her and stuck his spoon into the jell-o again, this time with a little more force. His meal would not be ruined by a hitchhiker.

At least you could have picked yellow. Not that there is any real lemon in there. It's just not fair.

"Are you insane? Do you have any idea what is going to happen to me and, incidentally to you, if I ingest as much as a drop of citrus? I'm talking suffocation, death!" Rodney hissed, stabbing the jell-o when he'd really wanted to stab Laura. It was only the second day of their co-habitation and he was already feeling homicidal. That couldn't be a good sign. He wasn't going back to Heigthtmeyer.

There is NO lemon in these things. Trust me. Or even better, ask Carson. I wouldn't mind a little walk down to the infirmary.

"What? Why? Is this some sort of game? If this is, I'm not playing it. Especially not with you stuck inside my brain," Rodney hissed, hoping people wouldn't stare. He was talking to himself after all. Not a sign of mental health.

You think I want to play games, Rodney? You have no idea what this is like for me! I can't do anything in here. You could show me some consideration!

"Shut up! After last night, I know better than to let you do anything. You are ruining my life! This has got to end!" Rodney yelled, trying to quiet the voice in his head.

"Rodney? Is everything all right? You look exhausted." Carson had somehow appeared right next to his table while he'd been busy yelling at Cadman.

"No, Carson. Everything is not all right. I'm going insane because a crazy woman is talking inside my head!" Rodney snapped at the undeserving physician.

Hey, watch it! You are the crazy one here. Your mind is one big mess. No wonder you...

"Zelenka is working as hard as he can to find a solution. Maybe you should just rest a bit. You haven't gotten a lot of sleep since all this started," Carson said and laid a reassuring a hand on Rodney's shoulder.

A wave of frissons ran through Rodney when the man touched him. He shuddered.

"You don't look all right to me," Carson said as he looked at him more closely. "Have you been sleeping at all last night?" There was concern in Carson's voice. Hearing that made Rodney feel touched in some way. But the feeling was foreign.

"Can't sleep. Can't afford to. There is too much to do," Rodney explained in a mumble. He wanted Carson to leave him alone. One person pestering him was enough.

Liar. I know what you are really afraid of.

"Come along. Even you need to sleep," Carson said firmly and for emphasis took away Rodney's tray. He was going to protest, but was cut short. "I won't hesitate to order you to the infirmary. You are dead on your feet, Rodney!"

Yeah, you should really go to the infirmary. I could use a little rest. You know you can't keep this up forever. Don't think I haven't seen people drop from exhaustion before. You aren't that tough, McKay.

"You haven't seen anything. You don't know me at all! I can stay up for days if I have to."

"Rodney?" Carson asked puzzled. He still couldn't get used to his friend talking to a person that only he could hear.

Rodney swirled around. "I...I'm talking to her. She won't shut up." He sounded shrill.

"To the infirmary. Now," Carson ordered.


Carson put a folded bundle of scrubs on the bed behind them. "Here. Change before you lie down."

"I came here and you checked me out. You have no reason to keep me here," Rodney argued, ready to bolt. He felt the waves of anxiety coming from within, but it wasn't coming from him. Laura's feelings were starting to bleed through.

I want to stay here, Rodney. I really could use some rest.

Rodney sat down on the bed. "Laura says she wants to stay here."

"Then you probably should. I'm no expert, but all that fighting for control can't be good, for the both of you. Now change and call me when you're done."

Thanks...please close your eyes when you change. I don't want to be blinded.

"Oh shut up!" Rodney rubbed a hand over his face. He really needed to sleep, but it was the last thing he wanted to do. When he was asleep, he'd lose control. He was holding on just now as it was.

Closing his eyes, he stripped his clothes, and pulled on the scrubs that Carson had brought. He flopped back down on the bed. Sleep was really tempting.

Call Beckett already and have him give you that shot. Maybe you'll be less wound up once you've slept a couple of hours.

"Carson!" Rodney heard himself call, not in control of his own body. Laura had taken over control without him willingly letting her.

Carson pushed back the privacy curtain. "Lie down and relax, Rodney." Laura complied, manipulating Rodney's body with ease.

Carson carefully stretched out her arm. Before, he could do anything else, Laura wrapped her fingers around his wrist.

"I really appreciate what you are doing for me, Carson." She smiled at him.

"I'm your friend. Of course I'll try to help you," Carson said, slightly confused at Rodney's apparent change in attitude.

"Everyone else treats me like I've lost me mind." Laura reached her other arm around Carson's neck, pulling him closer.

"You have been there for me. I really-" Laura gasped, her body tensing up. Her chest felt tight and she couldn't breathe. Her limbs began to jerk and her head exploded.


The first thing Rodney felt when he woke up was the pounding headache. Instinctively he raised his hand to his head and groaned. Then he realized that he was in control again. He could move his hand and use his voice.

He opened his eyes to a darkened infirmary. The curtains were drawn around his bed. Even the faint light sent pulses of pain through his brain, so Rodney squeezed his eyes shut and curled up.

Rodney? What happened? Something's wrong. I can feel it.

"Be quiet. What did you do? My head hurts like hell." Rodney groaned softly, wishing Laura had stayed silent. Everything was a bit fuzzy. He'd been in the infirmary with Carson. And then...then Laura had taken control.

"What did you do?" Rodney asked again, but Laura remained silent. Maybe it was for the best.

"Carson!" he called, the volume of his voice hurting his head.

Carson was at his bedside in record time. He had his hands in the pockets of his lab coat, clipboard pinned under his arm. Rodney waited for him to say something, but Carson just stood there and looked at him.

"Carson. What happened?" Rodney narrowed his eyes. He wasn't in the mood for games.

"You had a seizure. I'm afraid it's not good. I ran scans using the ancient equipment. Your brain wave patterns continue to present odd spikes."

For the first time, Rodney noticed the EEG leads attached to his head.

"We have got you on anti-seizure medication, but there is no telling whether it will work," Carson explained.

"I'm going to die," Rodney stated with a calm that surprised him.

"Don't say that, Rodney. Radek is working on a way to separate the two of you and with the drugs we have a chance of delaying another seizure. You can't give up now," Carson urged him and finally sat down in the chair by his bed.

Oh, God, that bad.

"You know, I never thought it would end like this. To me Atlantis was the adventure from the recruitment posters."


She ignored him. "When I was stationed in Iraq, I knew that I could get killed every time we went out. Atlantis sounded fantastic compared to that. Of course that was before I was briefed about the Wraith." Laura laughed.

"It was you earlier?" Carson asked and there was something in his voice that struck Laura as odd.

"You don't think Rodney..." Laura smiled. Then she realized that Carson had thought exactly that. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

"You should rest now, Laura." Carson didn't look at her. He turned to leave.

"Carson, wait!" Laura had suddenly turned over control to Rodney.

Carson turned, a faint expression of hope on his face.

"Can you stay with me for a while?"