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Life Support by PuddleJ [NC-17]
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Summary: Dr Tamsin Lucas is used to standing on her own two feet. Sent to Atlantis on a routine rotation, she discovers that sometimes it's ok to let people in. But when the life of a friend hangs in the balance, is it worth the risk?

Categories: Ship Pairings > Beckett/Other
Characters: Carson Beckett, Jennifer Keller, John Sheppard, Major Lorne, Original Character, Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagan
Genres: Angst, Friendship, Hurt Comfort, Romance
Warnings: Adult themes
Chapters: 18 [Table of Contents]
Series: None

Word count: 70359; Completed: No
Updated: 15 Dec 2016; Published: 24 Nov 2015

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Chapter 2

"Dr. Lucas, over here," Jennifer Keller called across as Tamsin entered the infirmary. Tamsin had heard a lot about the younger doctor since her own assignment to Atlantis, though she imagined most of it was just rumours. One thing she did know was that Keller had probably experienced her fair share of struggle to get to be the Chief Medical Officer of a top-secret inter-galactic expedition.

"I guess I'd better brief you about today, then. We've got three patients in at the moment, two are due to be released this morning and Dr Williams should be going this afternoon. We've got routine physicals for new personnel today, so I'd appreciate your help on that. Otherwise, we're not too busy at the moment." Keller gave a brisk smile, handing over a tablet PC.

"We're trying to use the technology more, but I still can't get away from paperwork!" Keller waved her hand in the direction of her desk, where a pile of charts sat waiting for her attention.

Tamsin laughed slightly. "Tell me about it! I'd never even used one of these before I pitched up at Cheyenne Mountain, but it's scary how quickly you get used to it."

At that moment, four scientists shuffled through the main door, all looking pale and somewhat nervous. They were followed by two marines, who looked only slightly less pale than the civilians.

With another smile and nod, Keller excused herself and headed in the direction of her office.

Scrolling through the data screens, Tamsin called out "Captain Stark?"

The shorter of the two marines made his way over to her.

"Right then, hop up on that bed and we'll get started."

Tamsin was ready to start her new life on Atlantis.

SGA

The next few shifts were much the same – routine checks and minor ailments. Several of the new military personnel had needed patching up after sparring sessions with Ronon. Tamsin had yet to meet the big Satedan in person – Jennifer had told her that he'd rarely visit the infirmary unless absolutely necessary. On another shift, a 'friendly' soccer match had got slightly out of hand resulting in cuts, bruises, two concussions and several cases of injured pride. By the end of the week, she was settling into the work routines, although the city itself took some getting used to.

SGA

Entering the infirmary one morning, Carson Beckett could hear a raised voice. Looking to the far corner of the area, he spotted a dark-haired woman, arms crossed, lecturing two young marines perched on adjoining beds. Both were sporting Ace bandages, one on his left wrist, the other his right ankle.

"If I find either of you in here again having done something so stupid, I'll have you taken off-duty and sent back to Earth so quick, you won't know what hit you. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes," the two mumbled, looking at the floor.

"Pardon?" the woman barked, glaring between them.

"Yes, ma'am."

"That's more like it. Report to the duty nurse on the way out for pain meds, which you will take, and I'll see you both in two days to check the swelling. Now, shoo!"

The two men beat as hasty a retreat as they could manage from the infirmary, passing Carson on the way. He walked over to the woman, who sighed as he approached.

"You'd think they'd know better, wouldn't you?" She turned towards him, with a rueful grin. "Apparently they were racing skateboards down some of the stairs and both fell off. Just sprains, but can you believe they only came in because they were ordered to?"

"Aye, most of the military won't admit to being injured if they can help it." Carson smirked, thinking of a particular Colonel.

"I should be used to it by now." She shook her head and held out her hand, meeting his eye. "Sorry, I haven't introduced myself. Tamsin Lucas, trauma surgery."

"Good to meet you, Dr Lucas. I'm Carson Beckett," he replied, shaking her hand. Though he'd been off-world for the last three weeks, he remembered Jennifer had mentioned a new physician with humanitarian experience. "Jennifer told me you've been working with MSF and the Red Cross before joining the SGC?"

Tamsin crossed her arms and leant against the recently vacated bed. "That's right, mainly central America and Africa. Pakistan, as well; after the earthquake."

Carson was about to ask another question, but was cut off by alarms and an emergency call over the city PA.

"Medical team to the gateroom, multiple casualties coming through."

Immediately the infirmary leapt to action stations, Carson issuing orders left, right and centre.

"Cole, Green, with me. Lucas, stay here and standby for instructions." So saying, the three doctors and several nurses raced out of the infirmary.

Minutes later, Tamsin's radio buzzed.

"Beckett here. We've got two down with multiple GSWs to the chest. Prep the ORs, we'll be with you in five."

She tapped her earpiece. "Understood. Lucas out." Relaying the instructions to the waiting staff, Tamsin hurried to scrub, ready to take the first casualty.

SGA

Some hours later, Carson was about to leave the infirmary at the end of his shift, when he spotted Lucas hunched over a desk, surrounded by paperwork. She was still in scrubs from the earlier emergency surgery. He had to admit, he'd been impressed – he didn't know much about her background, but she clearly had extensive experience with life-threatening injuries. She'd worked quickly, stemming the flow of blood and removing the one bullet that had lodged in the soldier's chest. He conceded he couldn't have topped her efforts and the soldier would have minimal scarring from the surgery.

"Dr. Lucas?" he called, approaching the desk. No response. "Dr. Lucas?" he tried again, still no response.

"Tamsin." Carson gently placed a hand on the younger doctor's shoulder, then jumped back as she also jumped out of the chair.

"Dr Beckett, you frightened the life out of me!" She leant heavily on the desk.

"I'm sorry, love, I called, but you didn't seem to hear me. I didn't mean to scare you."

At his chagrined look, Tamsin gave a small smile. "It's ok, I was lost in paperwork. I get too focussed sometimes."

Carson had glimpsed some of that focus earlier on in the OR. Returning her smile, he replied. "Aye, I can see that. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't your shift end four hours ago? In which case, what are you still doing here?"

It was Tamsin's turn to look sheepish. "Well, you know, I wanted to make sure the patients were stable and I thought I'd catch up with paperwork ..." she gestured towards the pile.

"From what I can tell they'll both make a full recovery and live to fight another day. I take it you haven't eaten yet?"

Tamsin shook her head. Her stomach chose that moment to growl loudly and she flushed slightly. "Actually I missed lunch, with everything that was going on."

Carson rolled his eyes – it was familiar ground with the medical staff, even himself.

"Right, then we're off to the mess hall. Get changed and I'll see you there in half an hour. Doctor's orders." He couldn't resist giving her a cheeky smile, noting that the flush across her cheeks deepened slightly as he did so.

"Um, yes, ok, mess hall. Half an hour."

She quickly closed down the laptop she'd been using, smiled at him and hurried out of the infirmary.

SGA

What was she going to wear? And for that matter, why was it so important to her? It's just eating at the same table as a colleague, she told herself, it doesn't mean anything. So why did she feel slightly nervous?

Stop obsessing and get dressed.

Beyond the standard uniforms in her wardrobe, there was a limited selection of casualwear. Tamsin had never been particularly bothered about clothes. She'd either more or less adopted what the locals wore or safety gear suited to whatever the emergency situation was. Somehow it had seemed wrong to care much about possessions when most of the people she worked with had so little.

Closing her eyes, she reached out a hand, thinking she'd wear the first thing that she grabbed. Her fingers felt soft leather. Of course! She pulled the burgundy jacket from the hanger, gently stroking the sleeve. It was an original early 70s piece, several years older than Tamsin herself. It had belonged to her mother back in the day and luckily for Tamsin, it fitted her just as well. And it still looks far better than I do, she thought wryly. She slipped the jacket over a plain t-shirt and jeans, found a flat pair of shoes and gave her hair a quick brush. A tiny bit of lipstick and mascara and she was good to go.

SGA

Tamsin spotted Carson waiting outside the mess as she approached along the corridor. He'd changed into a dark blue shirt and jeans, and she couldn't stop the slight catch in her chest at the sight of him in casual clothes.

"Dr Lucas," he called, waving her over.

"Dr Beckett."

"Och, call me Carson, love, we're not on the clock now. Shall we see what delights the mess hall has in store tonight?"

"Mmm," she said, with a wry tone. "Reminds me of school dinners some days."

Though they'd grown up at opposite ends of the UK and some years apart, she suspected their experiences had been very similar.

"Lumpy custard?" he offered.

"Cold mashed potatoes?"

Hazel eyes met blue in a shared moment of remembered horror, then they both smirked.

She stiffened as she felt Carson touch her elbow, presumably to escort her into the mess hall. She resisted the automatic urge to shake him off, but remained tense until she broke the contact by reaching for two trays, one of which she passed to him.

"Let's have a look at tonight's contenders then, shall we? We've got cream sauce with lumps, brown sauce with lumps in, or what looks like vegetable soup. Soup's usually a safe bet."

Tamsin eyed her companion. "That's what Kate Capshaw thought and look what happened to her."

Carson met her look with a half-smile and a slight chuckle. "I think the mess is fresh out of eyeballs, so you should be safe."

Tamsin reached across to the tureen. "Oh I'm easy," then blushed, realising how that could have been interpreted. "I mean, I'll eat almost anything. Lots of practice." She tailed off, hoping he hadn't noticed the slip up. She busied herself collecting a few more items from the selection in front of her, not meeting his eye.

Luckily he seemed not to have noticed, or was enough of a gentleman not to comment.

"So apart from movies, do you have any other interests?" he enquired, collecting silverware for them both. Tamsin cast around, locating a table towards the back of the room before replying. "Just work really, not much time for hobbies these days. How about you?"

"Much the same, although I do enjoy a spot of fishing now and then."

They sat down at the recently vacated table, which the previous occupants had neglected to clear. Huffing slightly, Tamsin piled the plates and debris onto the trays, intending to empty them later.

"Litterbugs," she said, rolling her eyes. Picking up her cutlery, she flashed a brief smile at Carson and began eating. She was wondering whether to mention her first, and only, experience of fishing, but quickly decided against it. It would no doubt bring up further questions she'd rather not answer.

"Aye, it's not quite the same as when we first got here, we all had to muck in and look after each other from the start." Carson's quiet voice broke into her brief reverie.

Tamsin poked at her food for a moment, before directly meeting his gaze. "Do you ever ask yourself why you didn't run in the opposite direction when you found out about the programme?"

"At times, aye. Especially those first couple of years. Even now, after everything ..." he sighed.

Too late, Tamsin remembered that this wasn't the original Carson Beckett she was speaking to. She flushed again, dropping her eyes to the table. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring that up..."

He sat forward, putting his hand over hers. "Don't be sorry, love. Most people don't get a second chance."

"No. No, they don't." She tried to keep her tone neutral, briefly meeting his eyes. Carson quickly withdrew his hand, sitting back.

"How are you finding Atlantis?" he asked, in a lighter voice.

"It's ...fantastic. Completely overwhelming at times, but I wouldn't have missed the chance to come out here," she replied brightly, grateful for the change of tone.

"Have you had much opportunity to explore the city?"

She shook her head. "No, not yet. I'm only here for six months, so between the Infirmary and off-world travel, I don't suppose I will, really."

"Oh, that's a shame. I'm off-world a lot myself, of course, but I'd be happy to show you around a bit if our schedules match up."

"I'd like that, thank you." She gave him a shy half-smile. "What I'd also like is to know more about your off-world work. We didn't get a chance to finish our conversation earlier."

"No, it got rather busy didn't it?" With a rueful grin, Carson took a few more bites, set down his knife and fork and began to fill Tamsin in on his role in the Pegasus galaxy.

SGA

Later that evening in his quarters, Carson Beckett tried to focus on his latest research data. Since their return to the Pegasus galaxy three and a half years ago, cases of the Hoffan plague had been steadily declining. At one point, it had seemed to almost disappear, with no apparent reason. Then, around six months ago, there had been a surge in new cases, again without an obvious explanation. Despite having the best people researching cures, the latest vaccine was only proving effective in about 20% of cases, far too few for Carson's liking or conscience. Hauling his thoughts back before they could wander down that murky path yet again, he stood up from his seat and decided to call it a night. It wasn't nearly as late as some of the nights he'd put in recently, but Allison had at least managed to convince him to ease off sometimes. Allison. That was another path he really didn't want to go down tonight.

Crossing to the dresser, he swapped uniform for nightclothes and climbed into bed, picking up the novel he was currently trying to read. Glancing at the slightly blurred print, he realised he'd forgotten his reading glasses again. Though he still needed the serum to keep him alive, it couldn't entirely halt the natural ageing process, and the glasses and a few grey hairs were just two of the inevitable side effects. Locating the glasses, he slipped them on and settled down.

Carson found his attention wandering from the book in front of him to the new doctor he'd had dinner with that evening. Jennifer had hoped that Tamsin's humanitarian experience would prove useful, but having seen her in action in the OR earlier, she clearly had a wealth of surgical experience too. She'd been polite and friendly, but Carson had sensed a certain amount of reserve from her and hadn't wanted to pry into her background. He thought she would have told him if she wanted to. To be fair, he wasn't the sort of person to share his life history with someone he'd just met either, especially with his unusual circumstances. He'd been far too trusting in the past and look where that had gotten him. The Hoffans, Perna, Michael, his own death and resurrection – more had happened to him in the past ten years that most people could even imagine.

He recalled Tamsin's question – why he had hadn't run a mile after he'd signed that non-disclosure agreement. He gave a self-deprecating snort – he'd almost certainly be a leading researcher, married with kids and a nice home somewhere. Conventional, yes, dull, possibly, but safe. Instead he'd chosen, well the other Carson had, to step through that gate and take the biggest risk of his life. Still at least he now had the chance to do something about some of his past mistakes.

Except one, of course. Letting Allison Porter go had probably been the biggest – his own stupidity had seen to that. Still, he'd promised himself he wasn't going to keep dwelling on it, she'd moved on and was happy now and it was high time he did the same. He had his work, friends and surrogate family in Atlantis and that would have to do.

Carson sighed; his wandering mind clearly wasn't going to let him get any reading done tonight. He closed the book, took off his glasses and placed both items on the nightstand. He switched off the light, and pulling the covers over himself, he laid down, hoping sleep would find him.

SGA

That same evening, Tamsin Lucas was also attempting to find slumber. Her search was proving fruitless, so she rose from the bed, crossly throwing off the covers. She knew a run should help her settle and she sought out clean workout gear. Her shoes had ended up under the bed, where she'd thrown them after the previous day's gym visit, and she made a mental note to tidy up when she got the chance. She smirked to herself – in a previous life, everything would have been carefully placed in its' prescribed place, but these days she could do as she pleased with her things. Slipping on the sneakers, she waved her hand over the door sensor and stepped out into the corridor. At this hour, there were few people about, other than personnel on the night shift and they were generally either in the control room or the infirmary.

Charlotte switched on her ancient MP3 player and briefly stretched, then set off in the direction of the mess. Once she'd found a steady pace, she could let her mind work through the events of the day. She'd felt...unsettled all day, since meeting Carson Beckett. She knew the basic 'official' details – that he was the clone of the original expedition's Chief Medical Officer, created and held captive by a Wraith/Human hybrid for close to two years before being discovered by a strike team searching for Teyla Emmagan, the Athosian leader. She had enough experience with official documents to know that wasn't the whole story, even leaving base gossip of the equation. The 'unofficial' story was that the hybrid was the result of a failed experiment by the original expedition team and that Carson had been forced to develop the drug that was the cause of the Hoffan plague working its way around the Pegasus galaxy once again.

Tamsin wasn't one to take anything at face value, but the gentle man she had encountered that day just didn't seem like the type to willingly go along with such atrocities. However, she'd seen first-hand the things that a person could be forced into, given the right 'motivation'.

As she ran, she realised that it wasn't so much his story, but the man himself that had her confused. His accent and his habit of calling women 'love' reminded her of random elements of her own past, but it was how comfortable she felt in his company that was the big surprise. She wasn't a person who trusted easily and in recent years had shied away from forming close friendships with anyone. Carson was different – she found him warm and easy to talk to, despite only having known him for a few hours. Somehow, he'd unknowingly found a crack in the emotional defences she'd built around herself in self-preservation.

Finding that she'd run further than she intended, Tamsin stopped to catch her breath for a moment. She turned up the volume of the MP3, and set off back towards her quarters. She hoped the volume would drown out the thoughts; otherwise she was going to find the next six months a test of endurance.