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beth writing 30 days without

FIC: Words Left Unwritten (1/1)

Okay, I'm test posting a story I submitted to the Farewell Atlantis Ficathon on sheps_atlantis. 
This is primarly to get the hang of posting stories, properly formatted and with an LJ cut.  So
bear with me.  All formatting errors are my own.  The story itself should be okay. 

Title:  Words Left Unwritten
Author:  maddie_amber (known in other archives simply as Maddie)
Genre:  Angst
Word Count:  1275
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer:  I don't own the characters or the place, but the plot belongs to me.
Summary:  Another late light in the infirmary.  Another life hanging by a thread.  Carson Beckett and Rodney McKay
Notes:  I would like to thank Bruni for the beta.  Her insightful comments were most helpful.

Words Left Unwritten

 

Words Left Unwritten

By, maddie_amber

 

 

Carson Beckett scrubbed his gritty eyes with the back of one hand, exhausted, but unable to sleep and unwilling to leave his patient who clung so desperately to the thinnest thread of life.  The dimly lit infirmary was silent, except for the soft beep of monitors and the hiss of oxygen equipment.  The blood had been scoured away, the instruments sterilized, the patient swaddled in bandages, wired to monitors and pumped full of meds. 

He spent far too many nights like this, watching, waiting, and praying he had done everything he could and that he had done it all correctly.  Everyone believed he was a miracle worker, the best physician in the Pegasus galaxy, Carson-who-can-heal-all-ills.  But sometimes, when he had worked whatever magic he could, he was left feeling as helpless as a first year med student. 

 “Only time will tell,” he had told Sheppard’s teammates when they asked to be apprised of his condition and prognosis.   What a saccharine, worn out, clichéd bit of nonsense. 

When all was said and done, and the waiting was all that was left, he seriously questioned his desire to stay here in Atlantis.  He was tired of mending broken bodies that should not have been broken, tired of pulling first one then another desperate treatment from his shrinking bag of tricks. 

All too often the same bodies needed him.  How many more times could they be damaged and still be healed.  It was a question he did not want to answer, because he had made the one mistake no physician should ever make.  He had come to call his patients friends and, yes, thought of them as family.  If this time, or the next, his miracle cure was not miraculous, he would always ask if he had done the right thing, if his friendship had clouded his reason and his judgment. 

On the desk in front of him was a single sheet of paper, pristine and white.  In his hand he held a pen, a gift from his mother when he had graduated from medical school.  “To use for scribbling all those prescriptions no one but you will be able to read,” she had said.  He had done very little of that in the past two years.  All the tasks they would need to perform could be done on computers, and laptops.  McKay would chide him whenever he wrote letters that could never be delivered. 

But some thoughts needed the solidity of words on paper, ideas made tangible to be held in one’s hands.  Like the words that said you had watched enough good people suffer, and too many die, and dabbled with research that questioned your most basic ethics.  Words that said, maybe it was time to return to writing prescriptions no one but he could read.  Words that said, it might be time to resign as CMO of Atlantis and request re-assignment to Earth.

As he sat staring at the blank sheet he heard the soft thud of rubber on the cold ceramic floor, followed by a shuffling step, a thud and a step.  Carson knew who it was without turning.  The same visitor he’d had three times since he had sent his staff to get some rest. 

“Yes, Rodney?” he said without turning.  “If it's pain medication you’re after, you’ll have to wait another hour.”

The thunk-shuffle-step sound stopped.  Carson heard a soft sigh and swiveled his chair to face McKay. 

Rodney was barely standing, one arm in a cast and held close to his body by a sling, the other gripping the handle of an aluminum crutch so tightly his knuckles were white and his arm shook with the effort.  He leaned heavily on the crutch; his right thigh was swathed in a thick bandage, his face anxious, as though he didn’t know why he was here again, and, like Carson, knew of no other place to go.  Instead of his usual self-assured and self-important bravura, Carson saw a disheveled and deeply disturbed Rodney McKay. 

 “I told you bed rest, Rodney,” Carson said softly.  “I meant bed rest, not hobbling around my infirmary.” 

 “I…”  McKay, for once, seemed at a loss for words.   

He stood and walked to McKay, taking him gently by the shoulders.  “To bed.” 

 “No,” McKay answered.   His jaw was set, his lips a thin determined line.  “It was my fault.  I should be in that bed not him.”

Carson resisted the urge to disagree.  That wasn’t what McKay needed right now.  “Perhaps, you’re right,” he said.

McKay looked startled.  He gulped, and his face paled even more.  “You agree…”

“It doesn’t matter what I think, Rodney.  Only what you think.  If you want to wallow in guilt, because you are only slightly injured while Colonel Sheppard is in serious condition, then no amount of arguing on my part will change your mind.”  The words had come out more sharply than he had intended.  For a moment he regretted what he had said. 

A look of naked hurt ghosted across McKay’s face, before he clamped his mouth shut and adopted the classic, stubborn, little-boy, you-can’t-hurt-me look, Carson had come to expect.  For all his genius, McKay was in many ways emotionally still a child, especially when his position as the center of his universe was challenged.  Or when someone he cared about ‘took a bullet’ to protect him. 

“Yes, maybe it should have been you, Rodney,” Carson said in a gentler tone, “but you and I both know that will never happen, if Colonel Sheppard is anywhere near.’

“He keeps throwing himself in harm’s way.”

Carson nodded.  “Yes.  But that’s his job.”

“He’s as valuable as I am.” Rodney suddenly seemed flustered by his own selfless admission.

Equally surprised by the comment, Carson raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, he has the gene.  We can’t risk losing him.”

“Others have the gene now, Rodney.  I don’t think Colonel Sheppard makes the distinction between the value of a person and the value of a person’s position.  What counts for him is the value of a life.  Besides, by now, don’t you think it’s fair to assume he thinks of you as a friend.  And he does protect his friends.”

Rodney continued to stand in silence, swaying slightly.  Carson took him more firmly by the shoulders.  “All right,” he said.  “I will let you stay but only if you sit.  Quietly.” 

Rodney nodded, some of the worry leaving his face.  Carson arranged a chair next to Sheppard’s bed and helped Rodney ease himself into it, then propped his injured leg on a second chair.  He had barely settled McKay when he heard another soft step behind him.  Turning, he saw Ronon and Teyla.  Somehow he was not surprised.  He nodded his permission and they found two additional chairs, joining Rodney in his silent vigil. 

Carson went back to his desk and sat heavily in his own chair.  This same scene had played out all too often in the past two years.  Opening the center drawer of his desk, he slid the still unmarked paper back inside, reverently laying the pen beside it.  There was a time and place for everything and, he decided, this was not the time to walk away from friends.  The resignation he had been so determined to tender now seemed superfluous.  He was needed here.  Not because he was the most brilliant doctor in the galaxy, he knew damn well he was not, but because these people believed in him.  Their belief in his skill went a long way towards helping them heal, and maybe that’s what gave him the edge and made the miracles work.

 

Comments

Words Left Unwritten by maddie-amber

Very nice capturing Carson's inner dialog! It's exactly the way I think Carson would have reacted and felt.

The pacing just flows. I loved your first paragraph setting the scene. Not overly detailed but enough for us to picture the state of the infirmary. Carson's inner turmoil as he wondered what he was doing on Atlantis. Rodney's appearance and Carson's gentle chiding. Rodney is so used to being defensive, it slightly derails him for Carson to agree with him. The expected team vigil at the side of their fallen leader. And Carson's resolve at standing by his friends. Wonderful!

I've personally thought that Carson started out as an medical MD, but then turned to specializing in genetics research because he got too close to his patients and it was tearing at his heart to see them suffer. Easier to be one step removed, and he was very good at researching. On Atlantis, no one can afford to have just one specialty, so his doctoring came into play more than he might have been comfortable with. And then his research going into questionsble areas. But Carson finds that he can still help people by being hands on. It tears him apart, but he can bear it for them.

Thanks for writing and sharing.

some bitty betas:
- If its pain medication you’re after... You want "it's".
- We can’t risk loosing him... You want "losing". Loose rhymes with goose and it's how I sound it out when I read it.
Thank you very much for your critique. And for the grammar corrections. I know that. Just goes to show that no matter how many times you look over a story, another set of eyes (or two or three) is always helpful. After multiple readings I think I actually read these errors as "correct" because my mind's eye makes the correction. {Also an over dependence on spell checkers.) Glad you enjoyed the story. I'm always glad to know that I got the character's voice, thoughts, etc. right.
Two errors fixed.