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: So Laura Cadman listened to Major Lorne and made her way back to Atlantis. The questions is: What will Carson say to all of this? Beckett/Cadman, with Lorne/Cadman-friendship thrown into the mix. Spoilers from The Kindred onwards.

A/N: Like "Seize the day", this one is written partly for the Beckett/Cadman thread and the LorneLovers thread (whom I still blame for Major Lorne creeping into every one of my Stargate stories as of late... but I'm sure they'll wear the blame like a badge of honor ;)) over at GW. Hope you enjoy it, people :)

It is, more or less, a direct sequel to the aforementioned "Seize the day", but can very well stand on it's own, I think.

Again, I borrowed the idea of Lorne/Cadman-friendship from Altaria Volante. If there are any problems with that, please tell me.

Anyway, as always: Not a native speaker, so please excuse any weird grammatical constructions, tapeworm sentences (tapeworm sentence? is that even a word?) and typos. Feedback will earn you a cookie, flames will roast my marshmellows.

Where it all began

"Back on the stamping ground
To where it all began
Back on the stamping ground
We come again."

Runrig, "The Stamping Ground"

Oh well. Here she is again. God knows how long after leaving Atlantis, she stands in the Gate Control Room again, with her personal effects and her other crates in her hand and standing beside her again, like so many years ago. "Hey Cadman, good to see you here again." She turns around and smiles at Evan Lorne. After her leaving they'd somehow ended up staying in touch. In fact, he'd been the reason she chose to go back. Or rather… a visit of his.

"Thank you, sir." He rolls his eyes at her calling him "sir". It's been a while since his visit, but she still can't get used to calling him by his first name.

"It's still Evan. Now… you need some help with that?" He gestures towards her luggage. Her first reflex is to brush him off and tell him, no thanks, she's a Marine, she can handle her own stuff and how dare he get his zoomie hands on her things! But then she remembers that she doesn't have to prove herself to this special Major, and she gestures to a crate standing beside her.

"Actually… yes. I mean… if there aren't more important things to do for the military second in command of Atlantis, that is." A smirk grazes her face, but he pretends he didn't see it and instead puts on a fake resigned air.

"As long as Colonel Sheppard is around to save the galaxy, it doesn't really hurt to use his second in command as a porter once in a while." She can't help laughing at his obedient face and pitying him with patting his shoulder.

"Aw, poor thing. Just you wait… one day, your chance to shine will come." The last thing she said with a rather mean glistening in her eyes. This time he doesn't pretend he didn't see it.

"You know, better the porter without a scratch than the hero with the bug at his throat.", he says a little haughtily, but she has to agree wholeheartedly.

Laughing, she replies: "True. Alright, you win." He grins at her.

"Whoa, winning against a jarhead. That's surely a first!" She just rolls her eyes.

As they make their way towards her quarters, people are walking by, and some of them stop and greet her with surprise and quite a bit of delight at her being back in Atlantis. It astonishes her. She tells Evan that she'd never thought so many people would even remember her, let alone be happy to see her again. He just shrugs his shoulders and says: "Well… you are kind of hard to forget." Something inside of her tells her not to question this strange undertone he'd just had, mostly because she isn't sure whether if it sounded a little wistful or rather teasing. Some things are better left alone, she decides.

After that it's a little more banter and catching up on things she's positive she'd never get told in the official orientation briefing – surely there, no one would tell her whether the rumor about Major Moore having the hots for his Marine 2IC is still going round or whether Dr. Morrenos was still going head to head with her boss over every little thing, and she's quite happy to have Evan Lorne to tell her these things. But for some reason she's still relieved when they finally arrive at her assigned quarters. They are not her old quarters, but she doesn't mind that. In fact, she thinks it's a good sign that she can really start fresh here.

She opens the door, and when all her things are inside, he takes a breath and says: "So… when are you going to see the Doc?" They both know he's not talking about Keller and her obligatory arrival physical. She takes a deep breath herself.

"Well… I've not even unpacked yet, as you can see. What do you think, huh?" He rolls his eyes, but then becomes somewhat serious again.

"You know, I wouldn't put it off for too long. You're scheduled for your first off-world mission the day after tomorrow." Now she rolls her eyes as well. As if she didn't know that. He's right, though. Putting off things for too long had been one of the main reasons things with Carson hadn't exactly worked out in the first place.

"Is that an order?" He grins a little.

"Not yet, but I could make it one." She takes the liberty to swat him on the arm.

"Don't you dare pulling rank on me that way." He holds up his hands, playing the defeated.

"Never. After all, you're a girl that knows how to blow up entire buildings. You're a force to be reckoned with." She grins very smugly.

"Thank you, Major." Now he's the one with the evil glint in his eyes.

"I could say "That wasn't a compliment.", now… but I think I'd rather refrain from that, seeing as you have a bit of a violent streak in you…"

That promptly earns him another swat at the arm. "I don't have…" He raises his eyebrows questioningly and just throws at short significant look at the arm she just hit. A little exasperated she throws up her arms. "Oh, okay. Now… out of this room, or I'll… I'll…"

He laughs and holds up his hands again, backing away to the door. "Alright, alright… see you at the orientation briefing at 1500?"

She grimaces. "Yeah. Since you're going to hold it and I'm required to go there… although I have no idea why I have to do this twice."

"You'll be surprised. Life in the Pegasus galaxy has become much more exciting than in the Milky Way. Hey!" She's blindly thrown one of the first things she's found in the first crate she opened at him. Unfortunately it just happens to be a piece of her very feminine underwear. Immediately she feels herself blushing so deep she's surprised that her head doesn't explode. For a moment that seems to stretch into eternity neither of them says anything, and if she wouldn't have tried to look anywhere but him, she'd have seen him color as furiously as she did. Then, mercifully, he breaks the silence by saying: "My, my, Lieutenant, I'm sure that's not a piece of regular Marine attire."

When she glowers at him he just laughs and exits the room, nowhere near as fast as she would have liked him to. Grumbling she moves to remove the offending item from the floor. Looking at it with a death glare, she's sure she'll have to bury this thing very deep down in her closet as she will never be able to look at it again without blushing fiercely.

As she keeps unpacking, it occurs to her that even for someone as social as herself it has astounded her that so many people still remember her and ask her why she left all of a sudden and without a word. And that so many told her they were sorry for not keeping in touch with her and having actually missed her. It makes her realize that coming back to Atlantis could be good on so many more levels than just seeing Carson again.

It also means being able to share a drink or two with Evan in the mess hall after a mission instead of only e-mails and brief video messages or being able to get on Rodney McKay's nerves again. The girls' poker night and other get-togethers of the female members of this expedition not to forget, even if she feels it won't be the same with Kate Heightmeyer gone.

Slowly it dawns on her that even if things with Carson won't work out as planned she'll have a home in Atlantis. Yes, coming back indeed was a good decision. She pauses. Actually… what has she left to lose? And as Evan said, she might not get many chances for a go at Carson. So… with that realization in her heart, it suddenly seems so much easier to go down to the infirmary and face the inevitable.

With a sigh she turns and leaves the unpacking for later. On her way down to the infirmary she wonders if he will look any different, if he will recognize her… if he will speak to her at all. Evan has told her that in this Carson's memory he was abducted a little after they'd gassed an entire Wraith ship with the retrovirus and had to confine the surviving Wraith-turned-Humans on some remote planet. She remembers that things between her and Carson had already started to deteriorate around this time.

There had been awkwardness and quarrels and she'd hated it, sometimes with a vengeance. She had hated that she didn't really know where all this had come from and that neither of them had been able to salvage the relationship, as much as both of them had wanted to and tried. Not long after that they'd finally called it quits, even if it had hurt both of them. But obviously they could live neither with nor without each other. And then, when she'd finally made up her mind to persuade him of another go… he'd been gone, dead from some stupid exploding tumor… she shakes her head. No. She won't think of that. She wants a reboot, and she will get it.

But when she arrives at the infirmary and has finally found his new lab… she's too afraid to go near it. It's ridiculous, she tells herself. She's a goddamn Marine, she can face down Wraith, Replicators, Goa'uld and every other extraterrestrial villain they toss into her way every day, but she can't just walk into the lab of her former lover? Granted, he's a clone and she has no idea how he will react to seeing her again – let alone how she will react – but… she's had stranger experiences than this. Putting on a face that probably looks more determined than she actually is, she forces herself to walk forward and enter the lab… only to be wanting to march straight back at getting the first glance.

It's only Carson sitting in front of a microscope, totally unaware of that fact that she just entered the lab, but it feels like being hit by the shockwave of an explosion of a considerable amount of C4. Here he sits, as if nothing had ever happened to him, looking his usual handsome self… and to her it feels like seeing a ghost. But before she can turn around and flee the lab, he looks up, wanting to say something but stopping with his mouth wide open.

She ducks her head, looking a little sheepish and gets out a meek "Hey, Carson." He jumps a little at that. Judging from the look on his face and the still open mouth you could think he felt like seeing a ghost, as well. After one or two additional shock seconds, he manages to close his mouth again. She has to smile involuntarily.

"Laura… what… are ye doing here?" Her smile threatens to broad at the accent she'd missed so terribly, but she doesn't allow it to show as she doesn't want to get her hopes up. Not yet, at least.

"Well, there was this open slot for an explosives specialist…" Now or never, she thinks and decides for the frontal assault, "and some little birdie told me you were back in the galaxy." She allows herself a small smile, and it makes him smile back.

"Does this little birdie have a name?" She shrugs.

"Sure." Before she can continue, suddenly his stomach tells both of them that he obviously hasn't eaten for quite some time. Obviously, this Carson isn't much different from the one she used to know. She holds back a little laugh and instead says: "Let me take you to lunch and I might tell you." Whoa. That was… forward, even for her. But she's missed lunch with Carson so much she can't avoid grabbing the first chance to get it again.

He takes a look around, and she's sure that he will decline, telling her he has still too much to day, because he absolutely wants to avoid the awkwardness this lunch will most probably bring. She'd even understand that. Still… "It's no use declining, is there?"

She blinks. Was that… a yes? "I… take that as a yes?" Something must have been very funny – maybe her bewildered face – because he laughs a little.

"Aye." He gets up and shuts down his computer, ready to accompany her to the mess hall. They set off in the awkward silence she'd dreaded so much, but then he asks her where exactly she has been and what she has done and suddenly they are talking as animatedly as they used to, over two years ago, completely unaware of all the people in the corridor staring after them.

PS.: I'd love to write more of this, but... I'm essentially caught between a rock and a hard place here. Seems like Major Lorne is here to stay, and won't let me alone with the touches of Lorne/Cadman-romance... but I love Beckett/Cadman as well... I have no idea which road to take from here on... any suggestions? :S