So I Dated A Chair
Story 5 - Total Recall
The persistent throbbing of a hangover is a common occurrence is many galaxies, though it is at its peak of popular culture within the Milky Way Galaxy, especially in the world of Earthlings. Hangovers rouse the unsuspecting victim from the blissful black of unconsciousness, plonking them rudely back into their predicament. The problem in this situation was that Dr Carson Beckett couldn’t remember what that particular predicament was. Not even an inkling.
Cautiously, he opened his eyes and found the ceiling of his quarters twinkling merrily with the lights of Atlantis. Apart from that, he was encased in a darkness just like his dreams, though there something more sinister at work here. Something felt different. Lying there with his hands travelling out to locate the sheets, Carson tried to pinpoint exactly what felt out of place.
His skin tingled strangely and his chest squeezed painfully a few times. The lights on the ceiling danced and swam in his vision, so he squeezed his eyes shut again. What on Earth was wrong with him? It was just another bloody hangover. He’d had plenty of them over the years, but nothing this painful. Carson managed to peel back his eyelids and sat up in bed. He immediately regretted it and had to hold back a tidal wave of vomit.
“Good Lord…” he gasped. “What…what am I missing here?”
The lamp beside his bed pinged on abruptly. Carson shielded his face, then peeked between his fingers as the light dimmed as though on command. Slightly unusual, perhaps, but not entirely unheard of. After a few harried thoughts directed its way, the lamp winked out dutifully. He stumbled across the floor into his bathroom, almost falling across the mirror.
Nothing looked out of place. Except for the fact that he was wearing those blasted shorts again.
The mirror wobbled. As he watched it, the mirror seemed to grow bigger until it focused onto a blow-up version of his face. Hmm, interesting. A mirror that zooms in. Slightly odd, but he could deal with that. Carson blinked. His reflection was suddenly the same as always.
“I am throwing these shorts out!” he exclaimed.
Something very strange was happening to Dr Beckett. But he chose to ignore it and get dressed. He never did enjoy mysteries, especially if certain older brothers ripped out the last pages to his detective novels.
Carson sat. And he contemplated.
A tray covered with an assortment of food landed heavily next to his elbows. Glancing over the array of pasta and a few suspicious looking globs, Carson found his stomach heaving once again. He bent over the table and groaned. Slurping noises followed the scents of dinner, enough to make bile slip up from his throat. Finally, he could take it no longer. He sat up and spitted Rodney McKay with the best glare he could manage.
“What?” Rodney asked around a mouthful of food. “Just because they don’t have any haggis, you want everyone else to go on a hunger strike?”
Carson rubbed his temples wearily. “No, not at all, Rodney. Have ye ever woken up knowing ye might have done something…peculiar?”
Rodney seemed to actually consider this. He shrugged and shovelled down a spoonful of pasta. Obviously food was a little more stimulating than hypothetical thoughts. Another tray slapped down on the table, followed by the easy grin of John Sheppard. “I sure have. This one time I woke up in Canada in the back of some truck handcuffed to a pole dancer from…”
“You wish!” Rodney snorted. “And then the king of the potato people gave you a magic flying carpet. Honestly, the playboy act gets a little old after a while.”
“Must be losing my touch if it took this long, McKay.”
Carson cleared his throat. “Gentlemen, please.”
“You’re just jealous because I have better stories,” John shot smugly across the table at his team member.
Rodney rolled his eyes. “I assure you, Major, I have plenty of interesting stories.”
“Tell us one then!”
“I woke up in college,” Rodney began briskly. “With a test tube stuck to my forehead.”
John burst out laughing and slammed a fist against the table. A glob of mashed potato landed with a sickening smack onto the back of Carson’s hand. The CMO sighed. “Just lovely.”
“So what about you, doc?” John rounded on him.
Carson hesitated. “I’ll let ye know when I find out.”
A look of intense interest came over Sheppard’s face. He silently sipped on his apple juice for a few moments, eyeing up the doctor with a look usually reserved for advancing upon Wraith or newbies of the marine corps. Then a light shone in his eyes.
“Another hot date!” he enthused.
Carson’s cheeks paled. Now that he thought about it, the last thing he remembered was standing at the observatory, trying to decide whether or not to run in and profess his mutual love for Nena. Did this mean he hadn’t, and she’d tried to give him amnesia? Or had he managed to screw up the courage, only to douse his woes in alcohol afterwards?
“I don’t know,” Carson admitted. “What day is it?”
John looked suitably impressed. “That must have been some date.”
This was not at all helpful. Carson stared helplessly at him until the Major relented and told him. Several long seconds of stunned silence follow this. He’d lost a bloody week. Anything could have happened in that time. Medical emergencies, major squabbles between departments…or vengeful cities throwing a tantrum and sinking Atlantis just to spite him. Carson picked over his chin thoughtfully, realising that if he had been gone for a week, he’d certainly have the trappings of a wild beard by now.
This time he tried to sound complacent. “Did I miss poker night?”
“Uh, no you were there for that,” John supplied, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. “Why, did I hallucinate that, doc?”
Rodney sniggered into his pasta, took an almighty swallow and looked up. “No, I think you hallucinated that there was a poker night. You can’t hold something like that without me knowing.”
“Uh, yes, McKay we can. And we did. And Carson was there.”
Carson was by now thoroughly alarmed, though it might have been because Rodney’s face turned an ugly shade of purple and started choking, and not the fact that the poker night had been a couple of days ago, in the week long hole in his memory. Choosing to err on the side of normality, he reached across and asked in concern, “Are ye alright, Rodney?”
“Traitor!” wheezed Rodney.
“I’m sorry, I don’t even remember going!” Carson said feebly. “If I did remember, I would never exclude ye, lad. Not unwillingly.”
He shot John a pleading glance. Catching the hint, the Major coughed loudly. “Well, you were kind of out of it, Beckett. I could have tied you down to the Lantean chair and you would have smiled and nodded.”
Chair. Chair. Oh crap, this was so her doing.
Carson stood up abruptly, heart hammering against his ribcage. He managed a mumbled apology before turning and running away to the secondary chair room. After watching him for a few moments, John turned back to his food and commented airily, “Tell you what, McKay. If you think you can handle a high stakes poker game of chocolate and coffee without passing out from manly hunger, you’re in the next one.”
“How can I possibly refuse such an inviting offer?” Rodney groused.
“Don’t know. Maybe you should ask the king of the potato people.”
John Sheppard reflected that he probably deserved the piece of pasta that smacked into his forehead and started sliding down his nose.
Fact one: Atlantis was still floating merrily away on the surface of the water.
Fact two: no sliding doors had tried to separate any limbs from his body.
Fact three: he had no bloody clue where the last week went.
Fact four: his last memory involved trying to decide whether or not to tell Nena he loved her.
Carson mused over this as he jogged down the corridor towards the secondary chair room, ignoring the dark stains that splashed up onto his pants. He did take a little notice as something slimy splashed onto his cheek, cursing as he swatted at it, only to realise it was a glob of mashed potato. Still, that was ew. Arriving at the domed room, he felt panic rise up his throat just like bile and spent perhaps two minutes pacing in front of the door, mystified and worried by turn.
He jumped nervously when the door slid open in front of him. Taking the hint, Carson stole into the room, taking his own sweet time in making it over to the chair room. The chair glowed a warm blue, pulsing in wait. Nothing threatening, but you never knew when your psycho girlfriend would activate some magnetic shield to lock you in place. Not that Carson had ever experienced this, but he imagined that it was possible – that and some other unpleasant things. But he would never figure out the last page of this mystery by being a coward.
So he sat in the chair.
Did you miss me? Nena purred immediately.
Calm, cool, collected. He decided to try using the truth, and nodded vaguely. “Aye, of course I missed ye.”
I know you did, you naughty boy.
Um. That was new.
“Er, yes. Nena, just how long has it been since I was here?”
Her hologram buzzed into view, and she tapped her chin in a thoughtful way that looked vert cute, Carson had to admit. The smile lit up her features. Eleven hours, twenty-one minutes and fifty seconds. No, fifty-one. Fifty-two…
Carson couldn’t help it. He smiled back at her. “Doesn’t sound like ye missed me much, does it?”
Nena laughed and hovered into his lap, looking terribly at ease with herself. Her hand patted the air over his head for a second or two, before she linked her hands together and beamed beatifically at him. Then she cleared her throat. Aren’t you forgetting something?
Excellent. She’d just given him another opening to his interrogation.
“Oh,” Carson said casually, “I guess I could be forgetting…that I love ye to the point of being absolutely daft.”
He held his breath. Her expression didn’t alter in the slightest. Nena winked at him. Good, glad to see you aren’t forgetting the important things. And have I told you, Carson Beckett, how much I adore and love you?
“I’ve lost count how many times ye’ve said that…” he muttered, feeling uneasy.
From this, he assumed that he had managed to spill his feelings for her at some point. Unfortunately, instead of making things any clearer, his brain started throbbing with more confusion. Carson stabbed at his eyes with the heel of his palms, rubbing briskly before blinking away the haze of uncertainty that threatened to overwhelm him. Considering his unsettled stomach, he dropped his hand and rubbed there sympathetically.
So…how much did you miss me?
“Words cannot describe how much, my bonnie lass.”
I loooove it when you say that.
It was thus reasonable to conclude that they had already sped into the stage of pet names. The chair started humming loudly beneath him and her hologram winked out. Uh oh. Carson experimentally lifted a hand. Good, no random force field holding him down. That was some improvement on the situation. Much as he deduced that he loved Nena, there was something very vital missing from the puzzle. And it seemed that answer was about as a far away as Earth and…
Good Lord! Carson sat up straight, eyes wide. He had not been expecting that. The tingles of pleasure building up in his navel and taking a very embarrassing route southwards were certainly nothing he could remember ever happening in the chair before.
Carson leaped out of the chair and rolled as he hit the ground. Scrambling away, he smacked abruptly into the wall and slid down to his knees. He began chanting under his breath, “Oh crap. Oh crap. Chocolate, chocolate! Oh crap.”
This was…somewhat awkward. Unless he had been mistaken, although he had to admit being mistaken in another galaxy was something that happened all the time, Nena had been…had been…Carson covered his face with his hands. He didn’t want his mind to even wander in that general direction. Because that would mean that sometime during the week, they had…they had…
“Oh my God,” he said out loud. “Oh my God. Did ye…did we…”
He made a vague sort of gesture with his hands. Realising she couldn’t answer him, Carson skirted over and pressed just one finger to the headrest of the chair. Her voice had lost much of the playfulness that had started off their meeting.
Did we what?
“Ye know…” He gestured again.
Carson coughed and rushed out, “Love…didwesleeptogether?”
There was an ominous pause.
What’s wrong with you? Of course we did.
“Oh God!” he exclaimed to this.
Carson… she sounded hurt. What’s wrong? Why are you acting this way?
“I-I don’t remember anything from the past week!”
“I’m not, I swear to ye!” Carson said, panicked. “I jus’ woke up barely an hour ago and the last thing I remember was just after ye told me ye loved me…”
You don’t…remember anything after that?
“No! I’m sorry, I just don’t.”
Then you don’t remember…that we shared?
Her tone became angry. Shared! Meaning we shared each other, shared our souls. We knew each other as well as anybody could.
A flash of insight occurred to Carson at that point. He had heard somewhere at Stargate Command about this but…
And, Nena continued fiercely, among the Ancients, when mental bonding occurred simultaneously with a physical connection between two people, those people would be understood as living together for the rest of their lives.
“We’re…married?” Carson managed, dazed.
I think that is what you called it.
This was probably why people should be a little more cautious when it came to courting in the Pegasus Galaxy, Carson reflected. He considered walking off in frustration, but he couldn’t leave Nena like that. Not if she was his wife. Sighing, Carson sat back down in the chair and trailed his fingers up on of the arms to comfort her. He spoke softly, “I’m so sorry I don’t remember. I do know that I love ye, but this happened so fast, it seems…”
Before they ascended, the Ancients never held much regard for waiting.
“I guess if yer trying to fight off the Wraith at every moment, ye don’t have much time.”
This makes me…very upset.
“I’m sorry, love.”
I don’t think it’s your fault. Your body must not have been able to handle it.
Carson heard the dejection fading in her voice, but he still felt terrible. He asked hesitantly, “How many times have we…”
A few…a smile tinged her words.
Thoughts and images toppled over each other in Carson’s head, but never stayed still long enough for him to single out one to understand its meaning. Annoyed, he leaned back to smack his head on the chair, though that didn’t seem to do much to help. Only made his headache more fierce. Carson frowned. “Do ye think if we shared again, I might remember?”
I don’t see how.
“Failing that, I’d like to at least remember sharing with ye this time.”
You don’t mean that.
“Of course I bloody do!” Carson burst out. “God, Nena, it’s not jus’ because I feel terrible – and I do – it’s because I know I love ye, and I deserve to know ye in the way that ye know me.”
Alright, she said grudgingly, but you better remember this time.
“Trust me, my dear.”
Closing his eyes, Carson waited anxiously for a few moments before bright light exploded behind his eyelids. A wave of warmth settled over him, and at first he thought maybe his fears had been for nothing. And then he found himself forcing his eyes open to an expanse of stars spread out before him, beautiful in an array of twinkling light, so close he could reach out and touch any planet or star that he wanted to.
God, it was magnificent, and she had witnessed so much of the universe. But the silence of space began to press against his temples, harder as the seconds passed. She was so alone. The cheerful lights of the stars melted away into an abyss of murky blue and green, and now the silence gave way to the swishing of the sea. Still so alone…until he came.
He knew this. He’d seen it before. Reaching out a hand, Carson batted away the impressions that were so familiar to him, and started as the rush of memory slammed into his skull…
Approximately one week earlier…
Denial is a very easy weapon to master, though perhaps most ably assisted by the steady consumption of alcohol. While many may actually deny that they are, in fact, in the state denial, there are some who might take solace in pretending to be in denial. This latter explanation probably made more sense to Carson Beckett as he sat under the desk in his office, nervously swigging at the several bottles of beer he’d managed to smuggle into his third drawer (never the top drawer – that’s exactly where the guys from his poker group would first look).
He jerked and hit the top of his head on his desk when the coffee machine started hissing and spitting from the opposite side of the room. While the smell was awfully tempting, the machine sounded practically murderous. Carson pulled his knees up to his chin and swirled the contents of the bottle in his hand. The machine growled.
“I need time…” he muttered. “Please go away, lass.”
Then he added a sneeze for good measure. Shaking out the water that had nestled in his hair from standing outside in the rain, Carson contemplated the empty bottles circling him already. Damn it. He’d run out, and he didn’t even feel vaguely tipsy yet. Or maybe he already was, because now thoughts of emerging from his little cocoon seemed perfectly sane. Damn damn. He weighed up his options. He really needed some more alcohol, but that would mean staging a daring mission out into his office. On the other hand, he should probably just get it over and done with. What harm could it do, telling her what he’d only just figured out?
Time being the operative word. But then again, entities might get a little impatient after a few thousand years.
But as usual, the need for a little more denial drove him out from hiding. Scuttling on his hands and knees towards the door, Carson bounced off a pair of legs in a lab coat. He coughed and looked up at the intruder – and groaned loudly. Dr Biro peered down at him, looking a little worse for wear. Although, if he’d been stuck in a wardrobe for hours, Carson supposed he might look a wee bit like that.
“Aww, got you on your knees,” Dr Biro giggled.
Carson’s wide horrified eyes beseeched her. “Uh, I’m sorry but I’ve got ta get out of the infirmary.”
“You’re on duty.”
“It’s life or death!” Carson whispered loudly.
“And you’ve been drinking, haven’t you?” Dr Biro said sternly after sniffing the air. “Well that won’t do, will it? And you’re hiding in here from me, you naughty boy.”
Oh that was so wrong. Carson scrambled up to his feet and pushed past her, sprinting for the door. It took him a moment or two to realise he was flat on his back, legs sticking up in the air and several metres away from the door still. He rubbed at the back of his head distractedly and cursed. Peering at his shoe, he found traces of something maroon and very slimy. Sitting up, he threw a furious glance over at Dr Biro. He cleared his throat noisily.
“Look, I’ve not been feeling too well, Dr Biro. I would appreciate if ye left me alone. And just so ye know, I am spoken for!”
“You send more mixed signals than Windows XP,” Biro snapped. “And after all I’ve had to put up with – you sneaking off when you think no one’s watching, coming in late…and to turn up in shorts!”
Carson couldn’t believe this. “Is that what’s this about? The shorts?”
“You bet it is!”
Well this was getting rapidly out of hand, judging especially by the interested expression crossing the face of Dr Kavanaugh four beds over, even though he was supposed to be asleep. Carson noted this awkwardly, thinking of the gossip that would racing around the mess hall at lunch. He straightened up and spitted Dr Biro with his best professional-but-also-evil glare.
“For yer information,” Carson stated firmly, “I was wearing those shorts for my lass.”
Then he tore off as fast as he could manage, though he suspected he may have heard some snickering care of slumbering Kavanaugh.
Nena preened. She knew she should have been angry and frustrated, but hearing him declare openly for all to hear – well, in the infirmary anyway – that he was spoken for…that was enough to get him off the hook. For now. With interest, she tracked his movement as he paced along a corridor in the main Atlantis spire for several minutes, before racing away when it seemed that he was about to be confronted by some members from the science department.
While she had no idea what he had been doing at the observatory earlier, it intrigued her beyond any fury or upset. So she waited until he’d stopped running around like some Wraith with their head cut off before shining some lights to guide him in the right direction. Grumbling and weaving unsteadily on his feet, Carson followed without too many loud protests until he was right where she wanted him.
Snoozing upside down in the chair might not have been exactly what Nena wanted, but it was close enough. She zapped some static electricity over the surface of the chair until Carson yelped and put himself to rights. His eyes shot from corner to corner of the room before finally settling on the ceiling with a resigned look to his face.
“Ye certainly have yer ways,” he complained, but lightly.
You didn’t have to come.
“Not like I can keep away from ye for too long, anyway.”
Nena activated her hologram for the sole purpose of raising her eyebrows at him. He stared back at her, a lift to one corner of his lips. Hopeful, Nena probed, And why do you say that?
“I don’t know if ye’ve noticed, but I’m crazy about ye.”
That was unexpected. Unexpected but very, very good. Nena smiled and leaned over so that her translucent face was closer to his own. There. He was definitely trying to mask his own smile. Time to put his good humour to the test. She teased, Just crazy? Don’t you have something else to say, you naughty boy?
“That’s not fair…” Carson protested. “Don’t start quoting her, that’s creepy…”
His smile appeared then, in all its dimpled glory. “Alright. I love ye, Nena.”
Coming to his senses in the chair room, Carson stared absently at the wall while he contemplated and made sense of the memories flooding him. It had happened fast, but had seemed so right at the time. He drummed his fingers on the side of one of the arms of the chair but desisted when the chair thrummed ominously underneath him.
“I remember,” he said after a while.
Are you sure?
“Of course I’m sure! I’m glad it worked. I would never want to forget sharing with ye. I’m sorry that I did.”
No, I should be saying sorry to you. I fear our initial connection reacted badly with your form.
“Speaking of connections, my dear, how do ye feel about refreshing that part of my memory?”
Nena laughed and her image disappeared. Smiling to himself, Carson shrugged off his jacket and leaned back into the chair.