Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Word Count: 1,824
Summary: "First day of vacation every year, I would run around outside all day long. Inevitably, I'd end up looking like a lobster when the day was done."
Author's Note: This is my submission for summer_flinging. I hope the theme of summer is apparent, without being campy and overdone. It was a lot harder than I expected.
How Laura Cadman had ever made it through basic training was beyond him. She was such a bundle of perky, sarcastic energy that he often wondered if she had always been that way, or if those traits had developed as her way of deflecting the harshness of Parris Island. Of course, Carson was more than sure that that same perky, sarcastic energy had earned latrine duty, or whatever the overly enthusiastic Marine Corps equivalent was, more than once.
He supposed that was why she was here today, helping him deliver long-since promised vaccinations and medial supplies. Most of the base had heard about the incident at Girl's Poker Night, and Laura's little slip in front of Doctor Weir. Although Elizabeth appeared to take the, ahem, advice in stride (the memory of Laura's rosy, mortified face as she recounted the evening to him still made him grin), Colonel Sheppard still found it in his heart to send her along on what was probably considered an undesirable mission.
Of course, her help was more than appreciated. She could lift more than double what he could, and the youngest of his patients were fascinated by the fact that she had such bright, strawberry blonde hair, while most of them shared the same jet-black mop. While he handed his older patients alone, she helped some of the locals with repair efforts. A recent storm had nearly decimated the settlement, and so they were still in the rebuilding stages. Upon the Atlantean team's arrival, they had been asked to help in the efforts. Carson couldn't bring himself to refuse.
Carson watched as Laura hefted a plank of wood into her arms. Her face was knotted in concentration as she moved across the yard, straining to carry a load by herself that was double what the two men ahead of her were carrying. Her previously admired hair was swept up into a messy bun. More than a few tendrils had already escaped, and she tried unsuccessfully to blow them out of her way. He could still tell how hot the summer sun was, due to the sweat marks building on the back of her tank top, and the pink of her exposed arms.
"Is she your wife?" One tenacious lad asked.
Carson gave Laura one last glance before turning to the boy.
"No son, no she isn't."
"Why not? She's pretty."
Carson smiled softly. "What can I do for you today, Ailen?" He asked, changing the subject.
"Mama told me to come ask you for a shot."
"I think that's something I can help you with." Carson smiled again.
He had a small hunch as to why Ailen was so concerned about his relationship with Laura. On one of Carson's previous visits, Ailen's recently widowed mother had been more than merely solicitous towards him. Carson had little doubt that the young lad's mother might have been promising him a new papa.
After completing his final inoculation of the morning, Carson scooped up a canteen of water and a tub of sunscreen. Laura had been working harder than he had, and so he was more than certain that she'd appreciate both. She would appreciate the sunscreen more later on, fair-skinned as she was.
"Hey you." Laura grinned and stood, attempting to wipe her face, but only succeeding in spreading the dirt around with her dirty hands. Carson smiled back, swiping at her smudged cheek.
"I brought you some water."
"Thank you." She took the canteen gratefully, unscrewing the cap and taking large, unladylike gulps. Once she'd finished the water, Laura smiled again.
"I also brought you this." He brandished the sun block.
"Aye. Come sit."
Instead of sitting beside him, Laura stepped between his legs, leaning against him. Grinning mischievously, she offered up her arms. Without a word, he began his work.
"You didn't bring sunscreen with your pack?" He asked conversationally, rubbing Rodney's not yet patented lotion into the soft skin on her shoulders.
"Didn't think to bring it. Summer kinda snuck up on me. It used to happen to me a lot when I was a kid. First day of vacation every year, I would run around outside all day long. Inevitably, I'd end up looking like a lobster when the day was done."
He smiled, imagining the woman in front of him as a barefoot, rambunctious child. For some reason he pictured her with the same teasing smirk that she always used when baiting Rodney, only instead of a flawless grin, she had either a gap where a baby tooth had been, or a mouthful of bright yellow braces.
"Did your mother not tell you to wear sunscreen?"
"Guess I was a little stubborn."
She shrugged, causing him to chuckle.
"I never would have made that leap myself, love."
She was still, mostly, while he smoothed lotion over her cheeks. Merely on impulse, he bent, kissing her lips lightly. When he pulled away, he went back to smoothing.
She licked her lips. "That stuff's not so bad. What'd Rodney put in it?"
"It's secret, apparently."
Laura smirked. Despite his intentions, he continued rubbing her cheeks long after the lotion had soaked into her skin.
"Carson," she drawled, "I think I'm properly sun screened."
He stopped abruptly, moving his hands from her cheeks. "I should be getting back. I promised to start vaccinating as many adults as I could."
She blinked, licking her lips again. "Okay."
As he turned to leave, her hand caught his. "Hey, Carson. We've been asked to stay for dinner. You think Doctor Weir will be mad if I don't get you home by midnight?"
"So long as you don't suggest again that she and Colonel Sheppard do something of the same, love, I doubt it'll be too much of a problem."
Laura's cheeks grew pinker. "Thought we'd agreed not to talk about that anymore?"
He doubled back, kissing her cheek lightly. "Leave my virtue intact, and I won't mention it again."
She pushed at his shoulders playfully. "Go stick needles in people."
~ & ~
It was barely dusk when their hosts cleared the dinner table. They'd been served a small, yet delicious meal as thanks for their help during the day. Though the people of the village were not poor, the storm that had harmed their settlement had also come close to ruining their crops.
"We can help with the dishes if you'd like." Laura offered, already rising.
"Nonsense. This is a chore for the children. Perhaps, however, you would enjoy taking a walk while we prepare dessert? The moon is nearly full; it is very beautiful out." Mical, their host, offered.
Laura looked to Carson. "Wanna take a walk?"
Mical had been correct; the light from the rising full moon was more than ample, allowing them to see the path in front of them. With Laura's thin, strong hand squeezed firmly between his, he was more than okay with taking an evening stroll on an alien planet. Truth be told, his bad luck with going off world for routine missions seemed to have tapered off. Most of his recent trips had been peaceful.
Before dinner, Laura had attempted to get cleaned up. Her hair was down again, brushed once more to silky-smoothness. She had changed into a fresh set of fatigues and while they were less than flattering, she still looked wonderful.
Though they hardly spoke as they walked, her fingers occasionally slid against his; the unconscious action signifying the depth of her thoughts. Instead of prying and asking what she was thinking, he simply squeezed her hand.
They finally slowed, having made it to the edge of the river. Mical had said not to go much past there- the path wasn't always as clear as it should be.
"When I was a kid," She started, looking around. "There was this creek about a mile through the woods from my house. A couple of my best friends and I would go exploring during the summer, and we found it. We built a bridge -- an actual bridge, not a silly plank of wood like you see on TV -- so we could get to the other side without needing to jump and land in the water, or in the mud, depending on how much rain we'd gotten. The three of us stole wood and tools from our sheds, well, our dad's sheds, and we built a tree house once we finished the bridge. Took us almost the entire summer."
She grinned. "We called it our secret clubhouse. I wired a noisemaker to go off if someone opened the door without punching in a code and retracting this arm thing. I took Kyle Jenkins to the creek one year. Broke club rules and everything."
Laura shook her head. "He tried to kiss me and I pushed him into the mud."
Carson chuckled. "That doesn't surprise me in the least, Laura. You sound like you spent most of your summers outside."
"Didn't you? Didn't every kid? I mean, except for Rodney."
"I suppose I did when I was young. As I got older, I spent summers in my father's office, filing papers and helping with some of his less severe patients."
"Was that what made you want to be a doctor?"
"Not really, no."
"My father's nurse."
They both chuckled.
"She was in medical school at the time, but was a nurse part-time to pay her fees. She was very-"
She giggled. "If that's how you wanna play it, okay."
Carson rolled his eyes.
"The fact that she was working to put herself through school, working to achieve that dream, it made such an impact on me that I told myself I could do the same."
Laura looped an arm around his waist. "That's really sweet. I joined the Corps because I wanted out of my town. Well, that, and the recruiter said I could play with things that went boom."
They both laughed. Carson's arms wound across her back, tugging her gently into his chest. He smiled softly, dipping his head and catching her bottom lip gently between his teeth. Her mouth curved underneath his, and she pressed closer.
When he finally broke away for air, she grinned, squeezing his waist. Abruptly, Laura pulled away from their embrace, squatting down and rolling up her pants.
"What exactly are you doing?" Carson's voice shot up considerably higher than it should. Although, given that her hands had moved to push up the cuffs of his pants having finished with hers, he was certain it could be allowed.
"When I was a kid, we used to capture tadpoles and keep them until they'd start growing legs and arms and our parents forced us to bring them back to the creek and set them free."
"Alright. What are we doing then?"
She looked up at him, grinning. "I think Doctor Weir will like a couple tadpoles for her birthday, don't you?"