Title: If The Choice Was Ours Alone
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Seasons 2-4 of Atlantis.
Notes: Followup to Four Queens that includes spoilers for ALL THE WOMEN DYING. And seriously, what the fuck, Atlantis? What the FUCK?

Summary: "Why do you want to go back?"

It's not long before the relay system goes down that Laura's transfer papers go through.

She cries, loudly and unashamed, when she's told she won't be getting databurst letters any time soon. She's quiet on her next off-world mission, but none of the people on her team know her well enough to comment on it.

While Elizabeth is in the hospital, Laura spends most of her off hours visiting. They play more rounds of Parcheesi then either of them will ever admit to in public, and catch up on movies.

When the physical therapy starts, it's Laura who's rolling her eyes and cursing at Elizabeth, while the physical therapist sits back and watches; bemused expression firmly in place.

No one asks why Laura knows what to do. Elizabeth already knows. And she's the only one who matters.

She hugs Elizabeth hard before she steps back onto the Deadalus.

"Remember my transfer request," she whispers before waving goodbye.

"I'll see you, soon," Elizabeth says, her face soft.

Laura doesn't watch the ship take off.

"Lieutenant Cadman!"

She doesn't like Landry. She doesn't dislike him either, but considering her contact with the man is limited to the occasional briefing and a wave in her team's direction when they return or leave through the gate, well. They're not exactly close.

So, it's a surprise when he walks up to her in the hall and hands her a datapad.


His eyes are kind and his voice is soft. She tenses and knows there's bad news coming.

"Please take a look at this video. You have the next three days leave."

Her fingers are numb around the hard plastic, and it's blind luck that finds the back corner of the break room empty.

"Laura?" The video starts with Kate crying, Teyla's arm wrapped around her back. "It's Elizabeth..."

She walks out of the mountain with her hands shaking.

She adds two miles to her daily run and resubmits her transfer request. Twice.

Despite the fact that she's two galaxy's away from where she needs to be, Laura doesn't mind the SGC. The people are nice enough. Dr. Lee has a wicked sense of humor and is more than happy to take shameless advantage of her ability to sit and stare at coding or chemical equations for hours on end.

She even has the occasional cup of coffee with Dr. Lam.

It's not a bad place to mark time, and it's not like they're going to send her anywhere else. Like it or not, she'd been possessed by one of the best scientific minds of her generation.

"Why do you want to go back?" Caroline asks her, one afternoon over pie.

Laura just smiles, thinks of those left behind and still grieving. Thinks of how she goes home and can't tell her mother about anything of substance in her life. Remembers holding a sobbing Teyla after Charin's death and Kate falling on her face while she and Elizabeth hold each other up giggling at her.

Remembers Carson.

She shrugs and changes the subject.

She sees Landry coming, staring right at her, with a grim expression on his face. There's another PDA in his hands, and by the time he stops in front of her, her eyes are already wet.


"In private, sir." She nods, turns away, and doesn't even care that he hasn't dismissed her yet.

Teyla is alone this time.

Sergeant Harriman, bless his soul, just holds the door for her when she storms in. The ink is barely dry on the transfer request that she slams down, hard, on her General's desk. Her face is two inches from Landry's when she finally speaks.

"When do I leave?"

He doesn't even blink.

It takes three weeks for the Daedalus to get to Atlantis. When it finally touches down, Laura is the third one out the door. Because it's Atlantis and not the SGC or any other military installation, no one steps in her way when she starts running.

Her blood is pumping and she's out of breath by the time she gets to where she needs to be. Over a year, and she's finally here.

The doors open and there's Teyla. They blink at each other for a shocked moment, but then Laura is wrapped around her friend.

"What happened?" She's crying again, and goddammit, she's tired of tears, but it's all she can do. "Why did this happen?"

"I don't know." Teyla's arms are strong around her, but she's shaking.

Laura just holds on.