blue flamingos

Favorite Books

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Gen, PG

Year/Length: 2008/ ~1492 words

Pairing: Laura Cadman, Katie Brown

Spoilers: Set during 202 Intruder

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Sometimes you need a little space; sometimes it's the last thing you need.

Author's Notes: written for [info]galpalficathon

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.


The Daedalus is exciting and novel for three days, at which point it becomes very, very small. Lorne's spending eight hours a day closeted away with Colonel Sheppard, Helena Metcalfe is bonding with the other anthropologists, and there's only so much time that Laura an spend working out and annoying the Daedalus crew by jogging their corridors. Most of the marines have come together from outside the SGC, and so Laura doesn't know them that well, or have an easy way to bond with them, not until they get to Atlantis.

She's not really supposed to be in the 302 bay, not being a pilot, but Caldwell's too busy running the ship to care, and the crew are mostly just happy not to have marines and scientists getting in their way. Or at least, no-one's throws Laura out the first time she goes down there, so she keeps going back, hanging out with the pilots, chatting to the flight engineers, angling idly for a chance to ride in one when they drop out of hyperspace close to Atlantis. She's never been hugely interested in planes and flying, but the 302s are pretty cool; she doesn't have the gene, and the therapy didn't take, so she'll never get to fly the jumpers, and this is as close as she'll ever get to flying a space ship. She totally doesn't count the Daedalus, no matter what anyone says – it's more like a barracks with wings that what she thinks of as a spaceship.

The fourth time she goes down there, it's three in the morning and the bay's dark and empty. Laura walks the length of the bay between the silent, open ships, and leans with both hands o the bay doors. She's been on the ship for a week and she's already feeling closed in and crazy; the thought of being stuck on the ship for another two weeks is a little too overwhelming. She rests her head on the cool metal of the door, a thin barrier between her and freedom.

Swiftly followed by unpleasant death in the vacuum of space, which is, so far the greater of two evils.

"If you're thinking of making a break for it, can you wait until I'm not sitting here?" asks a quiet voice.

Laura starts, hand going automatically for the weapon she isn't carrying. She turns around, reminding herself that she's unlikely to need to shoot anyone on the ship, and that drawing her weapon on them would probably give the wrong impression.

There's a red-headed woman about her own age sitting in the corner of the bay, half-hidden in the shadows cast by the 302s, open book resting on her drawn-up knees. "Hi," she says, smiling.

"Hi," Laura says, smiling back. The woman looks vaguely familiar, but so does everyone on the ship. Laura doubts they've exchanged two words, ever.

"Katie Brown," she says, touching one hand to her chest like Laura could possibly be confused over who they're talking about.

"Laura Cadman," Laura says. She takes a few steps over to Katie and sits against the adjacent wall, the toes of her boots against the side of Katie's running shoes.

"Lieutenant," Katie says, half-questioning. When Laura nods, she adds, "I see you running with the other marines, past my lab."

"Which one?" Laura asks. There aren't any proper labs on the ship, just unused rooms that various science departments have taken over for the duration.

"Botany," Katie says. "I'm a fern specialist."

"Right," Laura says politely. She's got less than no interest in plants. She thinks about getting up and leaving, but Katie has to be down in the 302 bay reading at three in the morning for a reason, and Laura knows that she is. "Reading anything good?"

Katie tilts the book up – it's a thick, dark-coloured, hardback that's obviously been well-used. "Textbook of General Botany for Colleges and Universities," Laura reads. "We're going to another galaxy."

Katie flushes slightly. "I know. It's also eighty years out of date, but it's my favorite."

"Your favorite plant textbook?"

"My favorite book," Katie corrects with a self-deprecating smile. Laura laughs and Katie grins back. "What are you reading then?" she asks.

"History of the marine corps," she admits. "But mainly because it's long enough to last the trip." She doesn't add that she's had it since she joined the corps at eighteen, or that she reads it at least once a year, usually more often.

"Uh-huh," Katie says dubiously.

"At least it's not an eighty year old textbook about plants," Laura teases.

"I thought it might help me sleep," Katie says, suddenly serious, looking down at her hands in her lap.

Laura gives the empty, metal, 302 bay an exaggerated once-over before turning back to Katie. "And you thought the 302 bay was a better alternative than your quarters and your bed?"

Katie nods, her face flushing again. Laura raises her eyebrows, feeling the smile spreading helplessly across her face, and waits. Katie bites at her bottom lip, flushes even brighter pink, and then ducks her head into her hands. "My room-mate likes the male marines," she says, muffled. "And she tends to like them in our room, at two in the morning. Loudly."

Laura's heard much, much worse, but there's something about Katie's girlish, squirming embarrassment that gets to her, and she starts giggling helplessly.

"It's not funny!" Katie protests, but she's smiling again through her blush. After a moment, she cracks, tipping forward until her forehead's on her knees, giggling just as hard as Laura.

Eventually, Laura takes a deep breath and forces herself to calm down before they both start sounding hysterical.

Katie sits up, leaning back against the wall and eyeing Laura. "So why are you out here? Or does your room-mate like the scientists. Loudly."

"Don't have one," Laura says before she thinks about it, by which point she's committed and adds, "She broke her leg two days before we left Earth."

"Ah," Katie says, sounding strangely blank. When Laura looks at her, she looks down at her hands.

Laura taps Katie's running shoe with the toe of her boot. "Are you new to the SGC?" she asks.

Katie nods. Laura waits quietly; Katie looks like she's going to speak, just needs time to figure out how she wants to say what she wants to say. Laura's had this conversation often enough to have a pretty good sense of things. It's one of the joys of being a low-ranking but established officer at the SGC – the civilians think it makes her easy to talk to, though she doesn't have it as bad as Lorne, who apparently comes across as much more friendly and sympathetic than she does, probably because he is.

"I just... I suppose I didn't realize quite how far away Atlantis really is," Katie says softly. She looks up quickly at Laura, then back to her clasped hands. "It seemed so much closer when they showed us the gate."

"Pretty amazing, huh?" Laura says, arranging her expression into wry and sympathetic. This is something she'll never understand, the people who find the idea of going to another planet frightening. Sure, what's *on* the other planet might be scary or deadly or jut plain weird, but that's par for the course as an explorer. Her reaction to being shown the gate for the first time was, "Cool," and that's never changed.

"Yeah," Katie says quietly. "Kind of overwhelming, actually."

"Most people don't start off by going to another galaxy," Laura points out, which gets her a quick, shy smile. "And we're halfway there, nearly, and stuck in hyperspace. It's kind of late to change your mind."

It's not sympathetic, but she knows it'll work. Katie's a botanist, she could have kept working on Earth, or for the SGC, not like the engineers and the physicists, who need to go to make the kind of discoveries they want to. If she didn't have a sense of adventure, she wouldn't be on the Daedalus. The last thing she needs is sympathy, someone to make her wonder more if she's made the right decision.

"Besides," Laura says, grinning at Katie, who grins back like she doesn't even know she's going it. "You're got me to protect you. What more do you need?"

Katie laughs, the tension in her shoulders easing, and tips one bent leg to rest her knee against Laura's shin. "Still want to leap out the air lock?" she asks, and it takes Laura a minute to remember what she's talking about.

"Not tonight," she says easily. It's true: she has a new friend, and talking to Katie has made her excited about Atlantis all over again. She can handle a couple more weeks on the Daedalus for that. "Want to use my spare bunk for tonight?"

"God, yes," Katie says gratefully, and lets Laura pull her to her feet, textbook left behind in the shadows.

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