gelbes_gilatier: (Protect and Survive)
[personal profile] gelbes_gilatier
Title: "Defining Moments: If it kills me"
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Warnings: since it's part of the timeline featured in "The Last Man", there's character death
Pairings: mainly Lorne/Cadman
Spoilers: mostly "The Last Man", but just to be sure, all Seasons up to Season Four
Summary: Revisting TLM-Timeline!Lorne from "The faith that cleans your wound", "Like a song without a melody" and "You and I will meet again" (which, by the way, are best read in exactly that order)... back when Laura Cadman was still very much alive. What's going through your head when you're about to tie the knot amidst war and destruction?
A/N: He promised me this is the last time he bugged me into writing a part of his story. In a sense... with this I'm coming full circle with this series, so I guess this is really going to be the last part of my TLM-stories. It's been lurking around my head for quite a while now, and since the best thing you can do against writer's block is said to be writing, I tried my hand at it. Let's see how that worked out. Crossposted at ff.net, [livejournal.com profile] stargate_fanfic  and [livejournal.com profile] major_lornefans .

 If it kills me

“Well all I really wanna do is love you
A kind much closer than friends use
But I still can’t say it after all we’ve been through
And all I really want from you is to feel me
As the feeling inside keeps building
And I will find a way to you if it kills me
If it kills me.”

Jason Mraz, “If it kills me”
 He wishes she wouldn’t love his Dress Blues so much, because he feels mighty uncomfortable every time he has to put on his stiff formal uniform, but it’s his wedding, and his bride would be rightfully miffed if he didn’t honor this event enough by attending it only in his Atlantis BDUs. After all, she went through quite some hassle to find a white dress that is appropriate for this significant point in both their lives. You only marry once in your life, or at least that’s how it should be.

He takes a deep breath and tugs at his tie for about the hundredth time. He’s told everyone including himself that he’s not nervous, and honestly, he doesn’t have any reason to be. After all, he was the one who proposed, and anyway, during the last months he had to face things much more difficult than simply saying “I do.” to the woman he loves. In fact, this seems to be the first happy event in his life for… an eternity now. Ever since Colonel Sheppard disappeared during a seemingly easy mission, things have gone down the drain. First Teyla had died – he still isn’t really over this, and he’ll probably never be – then Michael had started his crusade against the rest of the galaxy, seemingly always a step ahead of them, annihilating whole planets much faster than the Wraith would ever have done.

They lost so many people in those last few months, so many deaths… One of the first teams to die had been SGA4, led by Major Moore, a man he’s known since his Academy days. All of them – Major Moore, Captain Reece, Stabsarzt Morsberg, Sergeant DeLisle – had died during a mission to destroy one of Michael’s outposts. He just hopes that Moore and Reece didn’t die without telling each other how the feel about each other. It had been so obvious to everyone that he still wonders why they never told each other.

Another deep breath. He really shouldn’t be thinking about this, because it’s his wedding day today and the only thing he should be thinking about is that Lieutenant Laura Cadman will be his wife within an hour from now. However… he can’t help thinking about how it all happened, because it had taken another tragic death to set the things in motion that led to this day.

And even if he doesn’t want to, his mind has already wandered back to the day Carson Beckett had died. After Colonel Sheppard had disappeared they had learned very fast that they needed all the medical personnel they could get and a lucky discovery had made it possible for them to get enough of Michael’s anti-aging serum to break up the structure and synthesize it, so they had woken up Carson again. Laura had already been back on Atlantis, having taken up an offer he had made sure to appear casual. He still hasn’t told her that he’d been back on Earth just to tell her about the Carson clone, and she still believes that his visit had just been some aside to something more important. But to tell the truth: Even for a long time, there had been only few things more important to him than Laura Cadman.

It had still surprised him that she’d taken up the offer and come back. Of course, he’d expected her to hook up with Carson again, resigned himself to be happy for her and help her reconnect with the doctor she had been so obviously in love with before the explosion that had killed him, even if they hadn’t even been together at that time.

Things had gone differently, though, because even when they had woken up Carson again… there just wasn’t anything that happened. They danced around each other, passed time with each other… but something was missing, and Laura had been bothered enough by it that she had gone so far as to grumble about it in one of their late-night conversations. He’d tried to encourage her, tell her that things would work out… and then they had gone on a mission together and everything had changed.

He blinks, realizing that he’s been staring at his reflection in the mirror for at least five minutes. The man that’s staring back isn’t quite the one he’s used to see. For the first time he realizes that he has visibly aged in the last few months, even acquired his first grey hairs before he turned 40 and he partly blames his new position as the military CO of Atlantis for this. He never wanted this position – at least not so soon and under such circumstances – but it practically forced itself onto him, and now he’s working his ass off to keep this city running, still wishing Colonel Sheppard would miraculously reappear because he simply doesn’t feel cut out for this.

Laura and Colonel Carter and Jennifer Keller and lots of other people reassure him that he’s doing the job as well as Colonel Sheppard, but it doesn’t change the fact that people keep getting hurt and killed that probably wouldn’t have gotten hurt and killed if someone with much more experience than him would command the military contingent.

God, this just isn’t what he should be thinking about on his fucking wedding day. And still… the day Carson Beckett died a second time will forever be edged into his memory. It was a refugee relief mission, Carson and some other medics going to check on the population of a planet that had fled to their Alpha site, and Laura, Meyers, he and three other soldiers had been with them to provide back-up. The mission had gone down the drain, and Carson had been one of the people to do die. He still remembers having to grab Laura around her midriff and having to drag her back to the ‘Gate, crying and growling and struggling to get away and do something and the raw pain she had been radiating still cuts through him exactly like it had hurt back then.

After that, he didn’t see her for the two days Colonel Carter had given her off, and when she didn’t show up for duty at the third day, Colonel Carter had sent him to her quarters. Originally he had had wanted to simply go there and order her to resume her duties because he just had had this feeling that the Marine in her would immediately respond to this, but when he’d arrived at her quarters and she hadn’t even opened at his loud bellow of “Lieutenant, you open this fucking door right now!”, he’d known that something had been seriously wrong.

It had taken him half an hour of wrestling with the city for it to open the door, mostly because he’d suddenly felt such an insane rush of worry and urgency that he couldn’t really concentrate… and in the end, Rodney had to help him. The door had opened and he’d stepped in and there she had been lying curled up on the bed, completely still and for a terrible moment he’d thought she’d taken the last resort, after so much death and pain, but he’d rounded the bed and found her still breathing, her eyes wide open and dry. He’d sat down and for a while had simply said nothing, because all the words had left him at the sight of the unspeakable grief in her eyes. He’d found it mirroring his own grief and sadness and anger at not being able to hold off all the killing and dying.

Then, after what had seemed like an eternity to him, she’d whispered barely audible: “Go away.” But he’d already known he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t let her alone with this, he wouldn’t back off like he used to… he’d just known that in this moment she needed him as much as he needed her, and instead of answering something he’d simply shook his head and reached out to take one of her hands.

To his surprise she had swatted it away. He’d tried again and suddenly she’d sat up and started pounding her fists against his chest and he had let her, at least for the first few moments. Somehow he’d felt like he deserved this punishment for not doing his job properly, for letting it happen that friends – and for Laura Carson had been more than a friend even if they never made it back again to where they once had been – died. But then his overwhelming need to make her pain go away had made him catch her hands and hold on to them very firmly, while telling her to stop it. She still wouldn’t let him, claiming she was going insane, feeling like she failed Carson, failed the Corps, failed everything. Only when he had taken her in his arms and hugged her tightly she’d stopped her angry tirade and had fallen back to sobbing her heart out.

He sighs and looks out the window, letting his gaze swerve over the ocean but seeing nothing else than Laura crying back in that deep, dark, horrible night. That night had been one of the longest of his life. He’d simply held her while she had sobbed and mumbled and cursed and he had sworn to himself that he’d never let anyone make her hurt like this again. Ever since that night he’d finally known that he would keep away everything and everyone evil from her until his dying breath.

When he woke up again after that night, he’d called Colonel Carter, very quietly requesting another day off for Laura, as not to disturb her, because it had taken her the better part of the night to finally fall asleep. To his surprise, Colonel Carter hadn’t even asked about what exactly he had been doing for so long in a subordinate’s quarters and had ordered him to take the day off as well. He’d tried to protest, to tell her that he was fine and that he had a lot to do, but then Laura had stirred in her sleep, looking like something troubled her, and he’d known that this whole thing was far from over. He’d finally succumbed to Colonel Carter’s order and simply taken Laura in his arms again.

After that… things had changed. They hadn’t talked much, and on some point during the day, Laura had simply started kissing him. At first he’d wanted to make her stop, believing she was simply doing this because she needed some immediate physical comfort and would probably regret it the moment she realized whom she was kissing, but she’d silenced him and he’d finally realized that she knew exactly who she was kissing.

He smiles, remembering that kiss. He can still recall how she tasted – salty because of the tears and a little sweet because he’d forced her to eat at least a some candy bar or other – and he can still recall each and every little touch of everything that had followed the kiss and his realization. And he also remembers the guilt because back then he still felt like touching someone belonging to someone else and because he had a city to run and a war to fight when all he wanted was never have to leave her arms again. Originally, he had had intended to give her comfort, help her heal her wounds, but as it had turned out, Laura had sensed that he needed healing as well.

She can still sense it, and she gets better at it with every day, which is why after only two months he had proposed to her. It had been nearly accidentally, after a particularly grueling mission when the only one being able to piece him together had been her, but the moment it had been out, he’d known he would have asked her anyway, with no regard whatsoever to his career. But that she had said yes – with no regard whatsoever to her career – had been a minor miracle.

It had forced them to disclose their relationship to Colonel Carter, who’d given them the dressing down they both had deserved and even threatened to send them back to Earth immediately to have them rightfully court-martialed. But then her gaze had met with one of the pictures on her desk – General O’Neill’s, if he remembers it correctly – and suddenly… something had changed. She’d put her face in her hands, only for a short moment, taken a deep breath, sat down again at her desk and had said: “You made a big mistake, both of you, and I shouldn’t sanction it, but as it is, you could have made an even bigger mistake. You can have this marriage, but it has to happen here, in a very modest and small ceremony. And you will have to go through all the proper channels on Earth once you end your tour. I can’t – and more importantly won’t – even promise you it’ll be an official marriage until everything is cleared up back home.”

And now, after one more month of hassling and cutting red tape and everything, he’s about to leave this room, go to the briefing room and meet there with Sergeant Will Meyers – who sure was a bit surprised to learn that his CO had chosen him for his best man – and Jennifer Keller, Laura’s maid of honor. And of course Colonel Carter who is to be the one performing this wedding, and whom he owes the favor of a lifetime to. And most importantly of all, the woman he went through all of this for: Lieutenant Laura Cadman, soon to be Lieutenant Laura Cadman-Lorne.

There’s a knock on the door. A little startled, he tells the city to open it and it reveals a man in Marine Dress Blues, a smirk on his face. “Pardon me, sir, but Colonel Carter sent me.”

He raises his eyebrow at his Sergeant. “Concerned I’d be getting cold feet?”

Now Meyers grins a little sheepishly. “Something like that, yeah. Told her the boss never backs down from anything, but she didn’t seem very convinced about it.”

He can’t help smile at that. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Sergeant. Sure means a lot coming from a jarhead.” Is that a blush he can detect on Meyers’ face? Nah, not in a million years. He straightens out his jacket, corrects his tie and adds: “Come on, let’s go. Wouldn’t look too good if both the bridegroom and his best man would arrive after the bride.”

With that, they both set off for an event that he just feels will change his whole life forever, maybe even more than Colonel Sheppard’s disappearance changed it. Because he just knows that Laura Cadman will be the first and only woman he will ever marry, and because the sheer thought of being married to her makes him feel like finally arriving… home. And maybe… maybe today he will finally get around telling her that he loves her, not in actions alone, but in those three little words that mean the world. Yes, marrying Laura Cadman will irrevocably change his life, and for the better.

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