Author: RowenaR

Rating: K

Category: Angst

Disclaimer: Stargate belongs to Gekko and… all those other people making money with it. Anyway, I don't. Honestly. So – I don't own, you don't sue. Deal?

Summary: Laura Cadman's life isn't just the same anymore, ever since Carson Beckett died. And now she feels like she's on the road to insanity. Just a small vignette I needed to get out of my system after reading so much about "Sunday".

A/N: I still resent TPTB for what they did to the character of Carson Beckett and the Cadman/Beckett ship, even if there are hints that Carson might be coming back. So after reading so many good Cadman/Beckett stories that took place after "Sunday" I tried my hand on one myself. Hope it's as least as good as those I read.

BTW, if there are still people out there who actually read "Minor Characters" (which is over at the SG1-section): I do intend to finish this one. I'm just suffering from a major case of writer's block for this one, and the serious lack of a beta-reader who might force me to continue it. So, if anyone wants to volunteer...

Out of Reach

"So much hurt,
So much pain
Takes a while
To regain
What is lost inside
And I hope that in time,
You'll be out of my mind
And I'll be over you."

Gabrielle, "Out of Reach"

She walks through life as if she isn't really there anymore. Sure, she still goes on missions, still does all the paperwork, attends the official functions and even now and then one of the ladies' poker nights or the more unofficial Marine gatherings. But her heart just isn't in it anymore.

Nothing's like before and nothing will ever be the same again. Because Carson's gone and won't come back. She didn't even have the chance to apologize and make it all up to him or at least say good-bye. One minute he was there, being a doctor and everything and the next… he wasn't.

She feels like a zombie most of the time. Walking around like a living corpse. Or she feels like she's standing outside of her body and watching herself go on about her everyday affairs, amazed at how she can still go on. But sometimes… sometimes it's like he's standing right beside her for just a moment. And every time she turns toward the presence it's gone. She knows this is the surest way to insanity, but it just won't stop and she can't ignore it.

She knows she should see Heightmeyer about this or at least talk to her CO or her comrades, but she doesn't want to. She fears they will pull her off-duty or even throw her out and sent her back to Earth, and she is actually afraid of that. Still doing her duty helps her staying sane and being on Atlantis feels like she has at least one tie to Carson left.

Of course she also knows she should really let him go, but she can't. She can't because she never could say good-bye, and she can't because of this strange feelings of having him standing nearby, if only for a few seconds. She gets these feelings absolutely randomly; on missions, in the infirmary, alone in her bed, in the cafeteria at lunch. Every time it happens she would feel a slight shiver and then a fleeting touch of his hands or his lips, maybe to her shoulder or against her forehead.

At first it made her jumpy, confused, angry. Angry at herself for behaving like some crazed esoteric lunatic and angry at him for just not leaving her in peace. Then, gradually, after a few weeks, she started to feel… comforted by these touches. Often they would come when she was feeling lonely or scared or pain. They would only last a few seconds, but she would feel so much calmer and she would be able to endure so much more.

It's another reason why she doesn't want to talk to Heightmeyer about this: She would actually miss the touches and almost-kisses. And she would feel so lonely and cold without them. Still… there, on the edge of her conscious mind she knows she should stop this esoteric nonsense. Imagining Carson touching her won't bring him back. He's still so far out of reach, was actually never meant to be with her, and feeling him just at the edge of her mind always reminds her of this fact.

And so she spends the time in her bed with trying to convince herself that she's just imagining all of this, that her confused heart is making all of this up to fool itself into the hope that maybe… one day… someday… she would see him again for real, touch him again, be able to say sorry to him.

But still… the touching always feels so real, so much like him. There've even been times when she thought she could catch a whiff of his very own scent – aftershave and disinfection stuff and him. It just waved by her nose, and there even was one time when they'd been in heavy fighting and she had taken a particularly painful hit to the leg and the stench of ozone and blood and a thousand other things had penetrated the air… and then, suddenly, very clearly she could smell Carson and she could feel his fleeting cool touch on her hurt leg and she'd just pulled herself up and had made it to the 'Gate just in time. So… what does it hurt to feel him nearby, even if out of reach?

Groaning she turns around for another time. It's always been like this, all these months since he had died. She would force herself to go to bed and she would lie awake hours after hours, tossing and turning and trying to make herself stop thinking and just let him go. She really doesn't want this anymore, and still she knows she needs these illusions or epiphanies or calls from the other side or whatever they are. She… "Stop thinking, lass, and go to sleep. I'll be watching over you."

With a start she sits up. It's really getting worse, she thinks. He's never been speaking to her before, and so she thinks she's finally losing her mind. Even more so since she feels his presence still hovering on the edge of her conscious mind and not going away like all the other times. Suddenly she's so scared that she's going insane. She nearly even starts to hyperventilate, but a kiss on her forehead stills her. She forces herself to relax, just how she'd been taught by one of her mother's friends when she'd been panicking on the eve of her high school exams, and slowly it works.

She lies down again, and now the still lingering presence makes her smile. She will deal with this. In time she knows she will. But not tonight. Tonight she will pretend that indeed he is there, watching over her, making her feel loved and warm. And the smile on her face still remains after finally falling asleep.