Chapter 3 - Carson and Chair
When you’ve travelled across the universe to get to another galaxy, fought blue life sucking creatures and had to endure the ramblings of a certain arrogant scientist, you don’t get so surprised if couples sit together for dinner or a midnight snack.
Before the arrival of a fortune teller in the city, everyone was inclined to sit in their little cliques. The success of two pairings had inspired people to come out with their feelings without going to the resident “Ancient”. All in all, the experience had lifted the morale of everyone on the base.
Juggling food and reports, Carson Beckett threaded his way through the mess to a table which had escaped some of the rowdiness that came with meal times. He dropped the stack of files on the table and sat down with a sigh.
When he glanced at those sharing the table, he almost groaned. On one side of him, Teyla and John were sitting across from each other, talking quietly and holding hands. On the other side it was Rodney and Elizabeth, whose conversation about the lack of coffee was audible.
His arrival did not go unnoticed. Major Sheppard looked over and grinned. “I see you haven’t been caught up in the atmosphere.”
“No, the wee love bug has not bitten me,” Carson told him without pausing from both strenuous tasks – eating and reading.
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?” Rodney asked keenly.
Beckett shot both men an exasperated look. He said adamantly, “And what makes ye think I don’t already have someone?”
“Then why are you not sitting with her?” Teyla wanted to know, smiling slightly. “Is it not a custom to sit with your…someone?”
Elizabeth chimed in, “And your someone would take priority over work.”
“Not ye too!” Carson moaned and dropped his head in his hands.
It seemed everyone had been bitten by the love bug and had gone crazy. Even Dr Weir, who used to be something of a workaholic. If only there was a cure for this sort of thing! The doctor stood up abruptly, holding his files tightly. He grumbled under his breath, “This is what I get after all I’ve done…”
As he exited the mess, John declared certainly, “He’s still going to get bitten.”
The so-called “psychic Ancient” of Atlantis was a mere human. He certainly felt like it these days, what with Rodney stealing all the coffee. Well, there would be one less thing to worry about. He was through with the fortune telling business – if one could call it that. It was all about circumstance and controlling certain parts of the city.
He strode right up to the door of the Room of the Twilight and stuck a piece of paper to it with the last of his blue tack. He stepped back to admire his handy work. After a moment, he triumphantly turned and walked away.
Memory struck him and he paused in his step and groaned loudly.
What a stupid bargain he’d made. And he would have to live with it for as long as the city survived...
The paper read:
I regret to inform my customers that I have moved on from this part of the universe.
Elizabeth Weir walked briskly out of her office, demanding of the people in the command centre, “Does anyone know where Dr Beckett is?”
“Haven’t seen him since dinner,” answered John, looking up. “Why?”
Dr Weir frowned thoughtfully, tapping her radio against her palm. She answered, troubled, “He hasn’t been seen in the infirmary and Rodney says he didn’t come by like he usually does.”
Sheppard ordered the technician, “Do a sweep of the city.”
All the dots were where they usually were. Except one.
“Someone page McKay,” John ordered in a funny voice. “Ask him if anyone’s meant to be in the chair room this late.”
After being radioed with the situation, Teyla met up with Sheppard and Elizabeth as they moved quickly to the chair room. They swung by the labs to add Rodney to the entourage.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” the scientist shook his head. “Carson needs to be manhandled to get anywhere near the room.”
“It is not at all like Dr Beckett,” Teyla clarified.
The reached the door of the room. John glanced over his shoulder,
He opened the door.
Carson Beckett had his back to the door, but by the way he jumped, he had definitely heard their entrance. He turned around, looking like a guilty man caught in the act. He cleared his throat nervously, “Oh, what are all ye doing here?”
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “We could ask you the same question.”
Beckett shifted uncomfortably. He ran a hand though his hair and sighed, “Well this concerns all four of ye anyway. Ye probably getting suspicious, but the Room of Twilight was my doing.”
“You!” Dr Weir exclaimed., “How did you…know those things?”
“He’s an Ancient,” McKay decided immediately.
Teyla nodded in agreement. Sheppard crossed his arms, staring steadily at the doctor and waiting for an explanation. Carson quailed, “Look, ye got it wrong. I’m no Ancient. I just wanted ye to realise yer true feelings.”
“Then we owe you our thanks,” Teyla realised.
John pointed out frankly, “That doesn’t solve how he did it.”
He moved protectively closer to Teyla. Rodney nodded vigorously and crossed his arms in an attempt to mimic Sheppard. He desisted at a look from Weir. Beckett hung his head and muttered, “I just wanted ye to be happy, all of ye. The chair gave me the chance to help ye.”
“So you pulled up a sound system for that particular room,” Rodney guessed, “and told us different sides of the same story. Big deal. Nothing extraordinary there.”
Elizabeth smiled. “Well you can’t fault it, Rodney, it worked.”
The scientist grinned goofily back. Carson was too miserable to roll his eyes at this. He shook his head. “I guess ye can say it worked. But the chair wanted something in return.”
“The chair doesn’t want, Carson,” Rodney reminded him. “It just does.”
Dr Weir slid an arm around his waist to quieten him. She asked carefully, “Would it be impossible for the chair to have desires?”
“Desires indeed,” muttered Beckett, reddening.
Sheppard asked curiously, “So what did it want?”
Beckett looked away and said quietly, “Me.”
Three of those present just blinked. Teyla smiled, understanding. “And you made the bargain. For us.”
“Bloody good it did me,” the doctor grumbled.
“Is there an explanation floating around here somewhere?” Elizabeth wanted to know.
“Aye. It all began a month ago…”
One month ago…
“Carson, just get in the chair. There are no drones, no helicopters. Just the chair. In the unlikely event of anything going wrong, you can easily fix it.”
Looking disbelieving at Rodney was Beckett. He sighed. He had paperwork he could be doing. He protested, “I don’t think this is necessary. Major Sheppard could probably handle it better in an emergency than me.”
“Not if he’s flying a ‘Jumper,” McKay said firmly, not about to budge.
“Then wouldn’t I be flying as well?”
“Well maybe not! Just get into the chair and you can go back to your tea.”
“It’s not bloody tea - I like coffee better!” Carson retorted, but he sighed and sat down.
Nothing happened. Fixing an “I-told-you-so” expression on his face, he went to sit up, but it activated with a hum. Beckett leaned back dejectedly. He was about to let off a string of complaints when Rodney’s radio crackled to life.
“Rodney, how’s it coming?”
The scientist flushed a little. It was Dr Weir. He turned away a bit, trying to sound professional, “Yes, Lizbeth. I mean, Carson’s just sat down.”
Beckett smiled to himself. Rodney’s infatuation was clear to see. The soft looks from Dr Weir – she was one of the only ones who would put him in his place. It was almost as obvious as Sheppard and Teyla. It would be easier on everyone – and the betting pools – if they just admitted their feelings.
Then why don’t they?
Carson jumped, eyes wide as saucers. He stammered, “R-Rodney?”
The physicist shushed him, intent on talking with Weir. No one could interrupt McKay when he was talking to his “Lizbeth”. Then where did that voice come from?
It was me.
He gave a strangled yell. McKay glared at him, explaining into his radio in annoyance, “Just Carson. Hang on, I’ll move to another room.”
Beckett tried to get up, but a force was keeping him back. He struggled, scared out of his wits. He shouted in panic, “RODNEY! The chair is talking to me!”
“Be quiet,” came the snapped reply from outside.
I did not mean to startle you. Please don’t be afraid.
Carson felt a mild electric shock run through him. He froze and shut up immediately.
“Much better!” McKay said in relief.
Don’t be afraid, the chair repeated, I was just wanting to know why they did not reveal their feelings.
Beckett blinked. It was a little hard to take in. A chair – of all things – wanted to know why his friends didn’t hook up. He said in some trepidation, “Well, they’re scared. I just want to them get together. Are ye…are ye…”
I am what you call a chair, yes. I am curious as to why you are so anxious.
“The last time I was in an Ancient chair, I nearly blew a General out of the sky.”
That was probably because it was senile, sniffed the chair.
Carson almost laughed. The whole situation was ridiculous. Now here was a chair calling another of its kind senile. He commented, “So it’s not me, then?”
Well…you do not have the control that some others have.
At this point, Rodney entered the room, holding the radio close to him with a wistful expression on his face. He remembered himself and tucked the device away. He walked over, smug grin back in place. “Trying hard not to think are we? Let’s start with a basic exercise. Pull up the schematics of the city.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Beckett told him, panic returning.
The words had barely left his lips when the schematics shot up above his head. McKay was just as startled as he was. Carson defended weakly, “Well ye never know.”
Rodney examined the read outs busily, muttering under his breath. Beckett couldn’t help but notice some of the food stains on the scientist’s jacket.
Well there’s his problem, the chair said matter-of-factly.
Not wanting to receive a telling off from Rodney, Carson thought back at the chair instead of talking out loud, Dr Weir doesn’t care, as far as I know.
There’s a very simple solution, the chair told him smugly, then explained the solution as simply as possible.
Beckett snorted out loud. He was careful not to make eye contact with Rodney who’d given him a glare. Carson said, Will it work?
It worked on some Ancients.
Then I’ll do it, the doctor decided.
The chair tutted. Not so fast. I want something in return.
Yer a chair. Rodney says –
That I don’t have wants, finished the chair moodily. But I want you.
Carson frowned. The logical part of his brain – which had the voice of Rodney McKay – was telling him the whole experience was clearly unreal. Beckett swallowed nervously. “Can I get up now, Rodney?”
“I’m not done yet!” McKay said, annoyed.
“Jus’ a quick question – do chairs have genders?” Beckett asked, thoroughly worried.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
We do, the chair answered instead, sounding amused.
“Rodney, I really need to get up!”
Don’t you worry. I am female. Do you want to help your friends or not?
“Not like this!”
“Excuse me?” Rodney frowned.
“Och…hurry up and let me go…”
Carson tried to get up, but he was held back by an invisible force. He slumped in defeat and snapped, Are ye going to let me go if I say no?
Hmm…no. I think I’ll keep you, the chair teased.
He sighed. It just didn’t seem worth it. But he remembered the betting pools and how hopeless it was that neither potential couple was brave enough to make a move. Finally, Beckett agreed.
Aye, I’ll do it.
As he stood up, he thought miserably ‘I just sold my soul to the devil’.
“That never happened to anyone else,” Rodney commented. “Why did the chair choose you?”
At this, John Sheppard coughed awkwardly. Everyone looked at him expectantly. He stuck his hands in his pockets. “Well…when Rodney first made me sit in the chair, something a bit weird happened. I thought I heard…”
“Yes?” Dr Weir prompted.
“…a voice saying something.”
“What did this voice say?” Teyla asked, hands on her hips.
“It said…‘that medical doctor with the funny accent is sexy’.”
This was too much for Carson who blushed furiously. He asked in a strained voice, “When was this?”
“Musta been a few days after we arrived at Atlantis,” John recalled.
Beckett’s eyes widened. “Ye mean the bloody chair had the hots for me since then?”
“And just think...” Rodney grinned wickedly. “This city has numerous security systems, even in the bathrooms. The chair can access all of these.”
Carson paled. He stared with horror at the chair. Teyla smiled. “Perhaps you can avoid holding up to your promise by no longer sitting in the chair.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that,” Beckett said sarcastically. “But every time one of ye was in the room, I had to sit in it. I tried to stay away. But the chair has its ways.”
Dr Weir suggested diplomatically. “Why don’t you sort this out with…her? You could give her more of chance to explain.”
Beckett looked at her like she’d gone mad. He tried to find anyone on his side, but everyone was assenting. Rodney nodded, more thoughtful than amused now. “It would be easier for us if the chair was on our side.”
“You can listen to them,” John said seriously, “and be all peaceful. Or you could shoot it.”
Teyla gave him a severe look which he responded to by grinning sheepishly and trying to sweeten her up by dropping a kiss on her cheek. Carson managed a small smile. “Well, ye can’t say it didn’t work. Alright, all of ye wait outside.”
Twenty minutes passed. Teyla frowned towards the closed door. “Should Dr Beckett not be finished by now?”
“Give him some more time,” John advised, then added with a smirk, “Poor Carson.”
There was a short silence in which everyone’s attention was on the door. It was broken when Weir asked, “Whose watch is that? It’s very loud.”
“Mine,” Rodney owned up.
John crossed his arms. “If it’d been my watch, I would have had to throw it into the ocean by now. That’s bias.”
Any argument that had been forthcoming was forestalled when the door slid open. Sheppard began sniggering. “I take it went well.”
“It must have gone very well,” Teyla commented.
Beckett flushed and hurriedly tried to tuck his shirt in. He said without looking anyone in the eye, “I’ve agreed to court her.”
“I think everyone would agree with me if I said that was way beyond a first date,” McKay said, then turned to his girlfriend. “Do you feel like a coffee, Lizbeth?”
“I’d love one,” she answered and looped her arm through his.
As they walked off, Teyla asked John, “Is the weather pleasant at the moment?”
“I believe so,” Sheppard grinned. “Late night picnic?”
No sooner had they left than Aiden Ford came along, puffing. He demanded, “Do you always have to be so hard to find?”
Carson shook his head. “No, ye just don’t look hard enough.”
“Anyway, you won a heap of chocolate and stuff in the betting pools,” the lieutenant told him. “There are quite a few people looking to win that back. Do you want to place another bet?”
Beckett just couldn’t help himself.
“Aye, I’ve got a strong feeling about…”