For kaj_22 who said “Could I have something on Beckett going home to his wee turtles?” Uh. It does *have* turtles. But Cadman seems to have snuck in there too. (760 words)
General O’Neill hadn’t seemed overjoyed at the thought of taking Carson back with him to Earth. But then Colonel Sheppard had pointed out that Carson would be useful for bringing the puddlejumper back to Atlantis and General O’Neill had had no choice but to agree.
So now Carson was on Earth, on the way to his apartment, with the prospect of flying a tiny metal spaceship through an intergalactic bridge hanging over his head.
It felt strange to be walking down the corridor to his own apartment again; he’d lived here five weeks and he’d been beginning to get comfortable, but having been back to Atlantis, this all felt out of place, unreal.
He put the key in the lock and pushed the door open. The light was on in the hall. Carson had a brief moment of feeling like Jules Verne’s Passepartout, then realised there was actually someone in his apartment. He hesitated; it would be ironic to survive death by Replicator only to be murdered by a burglar in his own home. But then, he had just survived death by Replicator, he could absolutely take on any one else.
Then he saw her. She was in his living room, kneeling on the floor in front of the turtle tank. She must have heard the door open, but she didn’t look up.
“Laura?” Carson asked, which was a stupid question because of course it was Laura, he didn’t know any other beautiful women who were likely to turn up in his apartment. “What are you doing here?”
She stood up slowly, hands that had been on her thighs sliding to her hips as she straightened. “Well, someone had to feed them after you went AWOL,” she snapped, sounding angry even if the eyes that swept over him were anxious.
She was wearing jeans and a tank top, her hair scraped back into a messy ponytail and all those logical reasons he’d had for not getting back in touch with her suddenly seemed overwhelmingly stupid. “How did you get in?” he asked, even though he didn’t particularly care.
“Dr Zelenka picked the lock for me. And let me tell you he is pissed you didn’t take him back with you.”
Beckett winced; at least it was more likely to be Rodney dealing with that rather than him. Then he noticed the way her eyes were narrowed, her jaw clenched tight. “Just Radek?” he asked tentatively.
“Yes,” she said. “Just him. The rest of us have better things to worry about.”
She spun away from him, put the lid back on the tank. When she turned back to face him her eyes were maybe a little red but her chin was up and he felt terrible. She stalked passed him, not looking at him.
Carson sighed and moved to where Laura had been, kneeling down beside the tank. The two tiny turtles looked fine, happily munching away on their piece of lettuce. “Hello little men,” Carson said, rubbing two fingers over the closest one’s shell. It didn’t even look up, just carried on eating, its tiny mouth making almost invisible dents in the leaf.
Behind him, he heard Laura move to the door.
“You’re very hard to shop for,” he said quietly, not looking at her.
He heard the footsteps falter then stop. “What?” She still sounded annoyed.
“You don’t like chocolate and if I bought you flowers you’d probably shove them up my arse. We don’t like the same sort of dancing and all your hobbies are likely to kill me. But I wanted to get you something to make up for being a twat since I got back.”
There was silence. A long one. Long enough to make Carson think he’d managed to piss her off even more.
Then: “So you went to get me a city?” Her voice was light, laughing at him, and when he looked up, her expression was fond.
He looked down at the floor, at Watson and Crick and their neatly re-strawed tank, at his boots. The toes were scuffed. “Yes?”
Three steps took her back to him and he stood up cautiously, still not convinced she wasn’t going to punch him. “You’re kind of an idiot,” she said. “And if you ever pull shit like that again I will never forgive you.” And then she kissed him.
Laura had always kissed like she spoke, passionate, forceful and a more than a little flirty. Her hands were tight on his shirt, her mouth hard against his, leaving Carson dizzy and clutching her waist and realising that Colonel Sheppard had been right; Carson should definitely have called her sooner.