Three Things Cadman Misses About Atlantis

by Domenika Marzione

1) The rules.... and the lack of rules.

She doesn't have to wear a uniform these days and there is no grooming standard, so she can wear jeans and flip-flops and whatever earrings she likes along with whatever color makeup she wants to go with whatever kind of shirt she wants and she can do whatever she wants with her hair. She can even wear a dress.

She doesn't have to be up at oh-dark-thirty to get PT in before breakfast before work; her earliest class is at eleven and most of them are in the afternoons. And all of the hot guys are in the gym after 5pm.

She doesn't have to salute anyone, doesn't have to call anyone ma'am or sir (although try breaking that habit), and her superiors are now professors, most of whom not only are amenable to their statements being questioned, they encourage it.

The freedom drives her mad most of the time. She doesn't know what to do with it, mostly, and isn't sure she likes having it. It's more than no longer having anything to rebel against. It's... when she was a kid, when she used to ask for ice cream for dinner, her father would say that if every meal were ice cream, ice cream would no longer be fun. It's like that. When she shows up for her reserve duty, it's like coming home. She jokes about having a new appreciation for people who have masochism fetishes, but it's more than that.

It's not all good more. She's got to learn how to be a reservist at the same time she's got to learn how to be a captain at the same time she's got to remember that nobody else has got any idea that there's something beyond the skies than old satellite parts. Sometimes she thinks remembering not to mention the aliens is the easiest of the three.

Within her reserve unit and within the grander scope of still being partially employed by the Department of the Navy, she's also got to get used to having a command structure that is not as... flexible... as the one she left back in Atlantis. Sheppard wouldn't let her serve as an infantry officer in an all-infantry battalion, but past that, he (and Lorne and especially Hanzis) really did let her fully participate in whatever the outpost had to offer. They may have locked a door or two and she may have privately (and not so privately) seethed about that, but they opened so many others, even ones they might not have realized were there. It took her months to finally be able to formulate the words to write the email to Hanzis to thank him for all that he did for her on that front. The email she got back is printed out; she rereads it every time she wonders what the hell she's doing with her life. Captain Polito was the rock star in Little Tripoli, but she'd follow Mike Hanzis through any door anywhere.

In the end, though, while she misses being an Atlantis marine first and foremost and an active duty marine after that, she doesn't regret her choice. Atlantis was where she was meant to be then, but here and now, this is her place.

2) Being involved in the amazing.

Most of her cohort at CalTech are reasonable types, for values of reasonable that include 'fully funded graduate students at a super-prestigious academic institution who will never have to get an honest job in their lives'. They're mostly younger than her, but not all, and younger in different ways than the Lieutenant Posse in Atlantis, but they're fun. And she enjoys the chance to express this other side of her personality. The geek side.

In Atlantis, geeking out was... not disrespected in Little Tripoli, but it was what They did and not what We did. (Except for Polito, but everyone seemed to think that he was really doing it to score babes and, even if he wasn't, the crazy mission shit made up for it.) And Laura, well, she likes geeking out. And now she can, openly and not furtively sneaking off to Science Division's lairs for clandestine lessons that more than made up for the gap between her first stint in grad school and her second.

[Although she does miss Doctor Riggleman's increasingly wacky explanations for why she was spending so much time in Doctor Dahlsson's lab. It started when she half-jokingly told him that if anyone came by, she was there on marine business, but by the end, the Opus Dei was involved along with Jimmy Hoffa and everyone had code names. And she even kind of misses Gunny Wilder's put-upon sigh of (mostly genuine, but not entirely) resignation and the "Sometimes I think it might be better if you were off breakin' the rules."]

CalTech is wonderful and amazing and she's having a fabulous time (most of the time, when she's not eight hours into a four hour lab), but there are times when... well, when she realizes how spoiled she was back in Atlantis. Almost everyone here on campus is doing cutting-edge work, but only when measured against what isn't classified up the wazoo by the Deep Space Telemetry unit over at NORAD. It's unfair to consider this unclassified science as a kind of junior varsity, the second division to the SGC's Premier League, but it sort of is.

She onced lived and worked in a place where interplanetary travel through wormholes and teleporters were taken for granted and sometimes it's very hard to, well, settle. There's nobody here working on reverse engineering Ancient devices or Wraith scoopy beams or subspace energy stores (although that second one may not be such a loss). Newton differentiated between relative space and absolute space and sometimes she feels trapped between them, aware of how much more exists beyond her current frame of reference.

The idea of going back to Atlantis and working for McKay -- because he's going to still be there until he either gets killed alongside Sheppard or he hits the mandatory retirement age -- is mostly unpleasant, especially without the protection afforded her as a member of the military and thus not someone Rodney gets to boss around. But the rest of the time, she maybe appreciates why all of them do it anyway.

3) Carson.

They don't so much break up as break off. There are no arguments, no fights, no bitter words. Carson very clearly wishes she'd stay, but she can also see it in his eyes that he's maybe a little relieved that he's not enough for her to do so. That he's not the reason she defers her plans. And she respects that, just as she's maybe a little relieved that he doesn't ask her to stay for him. They are not in love -- they are extremely fond of each other and, within the bizarre world of Atlantis, they are supremely compatible. In some other time or place, they'd have gotten married because she's sure they would have been able to live their entire lives together without coming to hate or resent the other. But that other time and place is not here and now and so when she tells him that she's accepted an assignment to teach a course at MCES as a prelude to shifting to the Reserves and going back to school... he kisses her forehead, squeezes her tight, and tells her he's glad she will be doing something that satisfies her interests instead of having to choose one over the other.

When she returns to Earth, she expects there to be a quiet fading out of each other's lives -- she doesn't really have a great history of keeping exes as friends -- but Carson is a galaxy away and that's apparently too far for any awkwardness to linger between them. They send emails to each other weekly -- she knows how to time it so that it's up to date for the databurst -- and keep each other informed about their lives. Within reason; she doesn't mention that she went out on a date and he's got to keep her reduced security clearance in mind. But she doesn't need her old clearance to appreciate Carson's ability to spin a yarn -- Jonathan Safir is still a rich source of tales no matter how many details have to be left out -- and, he assures her, grad school is shockingly like what life is like on the civilian side of Atlantis.

She finds out about Carson's death from McKay; he calls her from Colorado Springs to tell her that he's taking Carson's body back to Scotland for the funeral. She has a lab to TA and papers due and class to go to, but she asks for information so that she can try to book a flight. Rodney, that magnificent bastard, tells her he'll take care of it. He does.

feed me on LJ?


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11 October, 2008