First, do no harm.
Carson Beckett sees those words everyday. He lives them. He forces himself to read them from the scrap of paper stuck to the mirror in his bathroom every morning he wakes from his uneasy sleep. And every morning he spends more time looking at those words, trying to hold onto them that little bit longer.
"Need another few hours to gel your hair?" taunts Laura from the bedroom.
Unconsciously flattening his hair, Carson doesn't see the gesture in the mirror. What he sees is her reflection as she enters, already dressed and hair neatly arrayed. He wants to retort that he by no means uses as much gel as men like Colonel Sheppard, but the empty jar in front of him says otherwise. Palming it, he makes a poor job of hiding it in the bin.
His eyes flick from her smile to his mantra, written hard and bold by his own hand.
Laura Cadman also sees those words everyday, written on his brow alongside the memory of his failures. She plants a kiss on his cheek, teasing quietly, "You need to shave. Or don't you have time for that anymore?"
Pressing her hand to the mirror, covering the words, she forces his eyes to meet hers again. And he sees it. She knows why he spends so long in this solitude. Laura also knows that she can distract him. Her hand leaves the mirror, but travels to the hem of his shirt. Her fingers ghost over the bare flesh of his back, warm and alive against the chill of his skin.
"A few more minutes, love, that's all I need," he assures her.
Laura wraps herself around him, murmuring against his neck, "But you always say that. You'll make yourself late. What if someone needs you more than I do?"
Silence is his answer, though Carson closes his eyes and feels her kisses whisking over his skin, light and teasing. He relaxes. When her quiet goodbye nips at his ear, when her warmth leaves him and when her presence is replaced by the void, then only does he open his eyes and take one last long look at his mantra.
He follows her from the room. His words follow him.
Second, wear lab coat.
Carson stares at the paper, unable to comprehend what is so different this time. He leans closer to inspect it, and sees the new words scribbled underneath. He knows that handwriting. The curves of her consonants, the loops of her vowels. Patting down his clothes, though he isn't wearing one, for a moment he thinks can feel the lab coat.
The words demand his attention, distracting him from the previous line, which now blurs indistinctly. Having a sleep in could cure that. He doesn't have the time for it.
But he lets himself out of his routine, meeting Laura outside the bathroom. Over her arm hangs his lab coat – he wonders when she stole it from his office. Imagining her sneaking out in the dead of night to do so, and then to graffiti his note, makes him smile.
"Laura," he says.
"Carson," she says back.
Making him smile was her mission. Her calf muscles are still protesting an her usual early morning burn down to the South pier. He never wakes up for that and she would never let him. And he'll never know that's when she carried out her plan.
Laura curls her fingers around the lab coat, so that it snags when he tries to take it. Carson exhales. "Cheeky."
She grins. "You have no idea."
"I know well enough," Carson tells her. "What do you call last night?"
"I'd call it Tuesday night."
He pulls a face, the dimples deepen and he laughs. His kiss is quick and energetic, as he loosens her fingers from the lab coat. Laura tilts her head to one side and studies his face. Seeing no heavy creases on his brow, she drops her lips there instead.
Carson wants to kiss her again, but he's sure that if he does he really will be late for work.
There are silent questions and raised eyebrows in the infirmary when he announces that he's taking a short break. It's not something they're used to hearing, and it's certainly not something he can remember saying.
Carson runs back to his quarters and leaves another note on his mirror.
Third, kiss Laura Cadman.
If the window of his quarters faced the other way, moonlight would beam itself in unannounced when night fell. Carson stares up through the semi-darkness, glad that all he can see are the wafts of muted city lighting, barely touching the ceiling. He wishes Laura was lying beside him, making her usual daft comments about what shape the shadows are making.
There was an emergency off-world, one that brought a team into the infirmary. Nothing major, but they succeeded in giving Carson a headache. Laura's contingent is still scouting somewhere across the galaxy.
His lab coat is folded up on the table beside his head.
She'll forgive him for breaking that rule.
A slice of light enters the room as the door slides open. Laura says nothing, walking towards the bathroom through the returning dark with the practised ease of having memorised the territory. Her eyeballs are parched and her skin on her face feels like it will flake off if she touches it.
The bathroom is a problem. After knocking over the same toothbrush three times, she turns the light on.
Carson hears her laughing.
"What's going on now?" he asks drowsily.
A silhouette in the doorway, just before the light flashes out. The bed dips and a warm weight presses against him.
"First, do no harm," she recites in his ear.
Carson's too tired for this right now. "Aye, and second, wear labcoat."
"You're forgetting the new one."
"Oh. That. I'd forgotten."
"And third?" Laura prompts.
Tiredness floats out the window, leaving sparked interest instead. Carson half-rolls onto his side and rests his hand on her hip. How she's managed to get out of her clothes so fast he doesn't know. He walks his fingers up, down and across, until he can slowly swirl patterns over her stomach. She squirms.
Carson's touch pauses. "Where were we? Oh, kiss Laura Cadman. Where do you suppose I should kiss the lass?"
"It's dark, who would know?"
Smiling, he ducks under the covers.
"Carson – don't – you know I'm ticklish there!"
Summary: Carson wants to brood. Laura won't let him. Beckett/Cadman