Before the Beginning: Aang

She sat on the edge of the infirmary bed, his larger, work worn hand nestled in her two smaller delicate ones. She was barely holding back a flood of tears that wanted to escape. She’d known he was a clone, but despite that, she loved him. She couldn’t stand to see him in pain. At the sound of a whisper, she turned her head to look into his pain-riddled blue eyes.

“Love, thank ye for this…for carin’ this much about me that y’d give up goin’ on missions to be wi’ me here,” His gentle Scottish accent melted her heart and lifted any uncertainty from it. She was meant to sit here at his side, protect him from anything that might harm him. Her face lit up in a smile as she looked into his face, knowing that this was her place.

“Aang, will you let me have a look at Carson A.? I think I have um, a cure for the cellular degradation,” A musical voice sounded from behind her, and her hands tightened around his, reluctant to let go of him. With a sigh of frustration, she let his hand drop back to his side and she stood up, casting a look over her shoulder as she walked slowly away. If Jennifer was right and she did have a cure, this would all be over soon and Carson would be fit for work again.

“…That should do it, I’ll be telling Aang that you can go back to your quarters first thing in the morning,” Jennifer’s voice drifted to Aang’s ears as she sat on the opposite side of the room. In a moment, she was across the room at his side, a smile spread across her face.

“You hear that, My Love? You’re going to be fine, just fine!” She might have been a little overly excited but she didn’t see why she shouldn’t be. Jennifer had just cured Carson A.’s cellular degradation…hadn’t she?

A few days later…

She had been caring for Carson A. in his quarters for the better part of the week, but Jennifer had come by every day, telling her what she had done wrong. She had come to dread Jennifer’s visits; all she could think was that she would be caught doing yet another thing wrong. Carson A. never thought she was doing anything wrong, and for that, she was grateful. This morning, however, something was definitely wrong.

“Who…are ye? I would swear I’d seen ye somewhere before,” The Scottish accent that should have melted her heart with happiness instead brought an ache like nothing she had ever felt before. She thought for a moment she had heard wrong, so she turned to face him, only to feel her heart shatter even a little more as his blue eyes questioned her, empty and unknowing.

“I..I am Aang. Your…your Love. Don’t you know me?” She felt the tears drip down her face slowly as she saw his head shake and his eyes still not recognizing her. She felt her hand going to the earpiece she wore, but her mind and heart were numb, she couldn’t begin to think why this might have happened. Why would he not remember her? He had loved her so much.

“Jennifer, would you come to Carson A.’s quarters? We need to talk,” She said quietly into the earpiece, doing her best not to let Jennifer hear the tears in her voice. At the response, she tried to pull herself together, just managing to wipe the last of the tears from her face as Jennifer entered the room.

“What’s the problem with you?” Jennifer snapped, not amused at being called out of the infirmary for Aang’s every whim. Aang glared at her from her spot beside Carson A.’s chair.

“He doesn’t remember who I am,” Aang said coldly, her green eyes as hard and cold as ice as she looked up at Jennifer. She was trying to hide the heartbreak from her voice, keep herself from falling apart.

“I’m sorry Aang. It might have been a side effect of—“ Jennifer had begun, but she didn’t get a chance to finish what she was saying as the world rippled and blinked out, bright flash enveloped the room and then Aang was gone, leaving Jennifer standing beside Carson A.

Aang looked around, she was on Atlantis still, but the room was empty, the bed freshly made. She waved a hand across the door panel and stepped into the hall, making her way towards the infirmary. She was going to have to get to the bottom of this, and she figured Jennifer would know the answer
.
“Who’re you, Lass?” The Scottish accent brought tears to her eyes and the gentle arms that caught her as she crumbled only made it worse. She sobbed into his shoulder for a moment and then looked up. This couldn’t be her Carson…he looked so much healthier. She sniffed back a few tears and looked into his eyes.

“My name is Aang. I…I wish you knew who I am,” She tried to smile, but the tears kept coming and he just wrapped her closer in his arms and held her there. He couldn’t have told why even if he was asked, but he felt something for her…anyone might think he was crazy, but he was finding he cared for this girl even though he’d never met her before in his life.

This Carson knew that he should take her straight to the commander of Atlantis, but he felt she might prefer to be allowed the chance to dry her tears and wash her face, so instead, he put one arm around her shoulders and led her back to his quarters and opened the door.

“Come Lass, let’s clean ye up,” He handed her a wet cloth, which she used to wipe the tear stains from her face, and then she turned to look up at him. He did look like her Carson A., but he didn’t have the same pained expression she’d last seen on her Carson A.’s face. Something about this Carson put her at ease, and she cracked a smile.

“I should really take ye to see Elizabeth,” He said quietly to her, not ready for the look of shock on her face as he said the name.

“Carson, what are you talking about? Elizabeth’s been gone for years, Sam’s been in charge since…that happened,” She explained, wondering why Carson’s memory had gone so bad so quickly. He mustn’t remember the last few years then, if he couldn’t remember Sam being in charge.

“Samantha Carter? She’s never been in charge o’ Atlantis, Lass. I think ye might be a bit muddled from yer cryin’,” Carson smiled, the cheeky smile he offered bringing a smile to Aang’s face as well. He went to the door, waving it open, and waited for her to come along.

“We mus’ go see Elizabeth, an’ ye must explain to ‘er who you are…” Aang nodded, following Carson out the door, and they walked in silence to Elizabeth’s office.

As they walked down the halls of Atlantis towards Elizabeth’s office, Carson realized that he didn’t quite understand how this poor girl knew his name when she’d never met him before and he hadn’t introduced himself to her.

“Lass, how do ye know ma’ name?” Carson asked her, and she turned to face him, her soft green eyes searching his face. He could see that she would rather not talk about it, though he could not understand why, but since he did not wish to upset her again, he offered a smile and they walked on in silence once again until they reached Elizabeth’s office. Liz had looked through one of the glass walls and noticed one of the Dr. Becketts coming, with a pretty young girl at his side, a girl she did not recognize, but who appeared to be wearing an Atlantis uniform.

“Come in, Carson A. Who is this?” Elizabeth looked at the girl, who was staring at her with a look of disbelief and shock, as if she were seeing a ghost.

“Elizabeth? Is it really you? I thought you were…” Aang stopped herself as Elizabeth’s face mimicked her own shocked and surprised expression.

“How do you know my name? What are you talking about? And how the hell did you get into Atantis?” Elizabeth questioned her, a bit disconcerted by Aang’s reaction to her. Aang looked down at her feet sadly, unable to decide whether to tell Elizabeth. Carson’s hand on her shoulder made the decision clear and she began to explain.

“Well, moments before Carson here found me wandering the halls near the personal quarters, I’d been caring for my Carson…I’m guessing this is an alternate reality because you’re here…” Aang explained her appearance on Atlantis as best she could, though her eyes did fill with tears as she explained about her own Carson A. and Jennifer Keller. It was Carson’s hand still resting on her shoulder that kept her from breaking down.

“…And then there was this odd ripple and I found myself in what I assumed to be my Carson’s quarters, alone. I was on my way to the infirmary to confront Jennifer when Carson found me and suggested I come and talk to you,” Aang finished her explanation, and Elizabeth sat staring at her for a moment before leaning over the desk to face Aang.

“Aang, our Rodney McKay had some experience on Earth a few years back with a device called a Quantum Mirror that can pull people in from alternate realities. Now, what you described does not sound like that’s what happened to you. It sounds too sudden. For now, I’d like to offer you temporary quarters here in the city,” Aang wondered why Elizabeth was so ready to believe what she said, but thought better of questioning it and stayed silent.

“You’re wondering why I am not questioning your story, aren’t you. We have another young woman who was in a similar situation. Her name is Beck Beckett. About a year ago, she landed here just as you did. One day, you may have the chance to meet her. One of our Dr. Becketts married her—” Aang interrupted her with a hand raised slightly.

“One of the Dr. Becketts?” Aang raised her eyebrows and peered over her shoulder at Carson A., who shook his head and smiled.

“Aye Lass, there’re two o’ us. I’m th’ clone, an’ he’s th’ original. ‘E also is th’ one who married Beck,” Carson chuckled gently. Aang noted the name in her mind, hoping she would remember it if she ever got to meet the girl.

“Yes, and he sent her to Earth to care for his eight year old daughter, Abby Beckett. Maybe if you’re here long enough, you’ll get to meet them both,” Elizabeth finally got to finish the thought she’d begun and Aang nodded, a smile spreading across her face.

“I’d like that, Elizabeth. I really would,” Aang nodded slowly. She almost wondered if she would like this reality better than her own for a moment, but banished that thought quickly.

“Carson A., would you take Aang to the infirmary for the routine check-up that all new personnel are required to have, and then show her to her temporary quarters?” Elizabeth figured that sending Aang with Carson A. would be less of a shock on the poor girl, as she’d already met him. With a nod, Carson took Aang’s hand to help her up from the chair she sat in. As their hands touched, both of them felt the electricity and Aang nearly pulled her hand from his, as her Carson A.’s face flashed through her mind.

In silence once again, they walked to the infirmary, both lost in thought. Carson thought about Aang, how she’d just appeared in his path, but she had been alright with his being a clone, never blinked an eye. Aang thought of Carson A., she’d hardly met this Carson A., but her connection with him was strong, perhaps more so than her connection with the Carson A. of her own reality.

“Carson A., who is th’ pretty Lass?” Aang looked up just in time to see both Carsons at once, did a double take, and then began to giggle out loud.

“Tha’ would be Aang, she’s new ‘ere,” the first Beckett introduced her to the second with a chuckle, and she stopped her giggling long enough to shake hands with the other Beckett. His eyes and smile were virtually identical to the first Beckett’s, but there was no electricity in his touch, and she noted the wedding band on his left hand.

“Nice to meet ye, Aang. Suppose y’ can figure out my name, right? Y’re here for th’ standard check-up?” The second Carson smiled warmly, inviting her to hop up on the bed before stepping aside to let the first Carson (Carson A.?) check Aang over before taking her to her temporary quarters.

It was about a month or so after she’d arrived on this Atlantis, when she was called up to Elizabeth’s office again.

“Aang, it’s good to see you. I can see you’ve made yourself at home and you’re all Carson A. ever talks about,” Elizabeth smiled at Aang, but Aang could see that there was something else there, a reason she’d been called up to the office.

“What is it, Elizabeth?” She skipped the giggle she felt coming at the idea of Carson A. talking about her frequently, because in that moment, her entire past had come crashing back to her and she felt a pang of guilt for even thinking of Carson A. in the same way she had once thought of her own Carson A.

“Aang, I called you up here to discuss a more permanent arrangement for you. There are Wraith ships on the way here and I can’t keep my head scientists working on getting you home, I need them working on prepping the city for battle. I would like to put you on duty at the infirmary, you will work as an assistant to Carson A., since you already know him and it would be almost a seamless transition. If you choose to stay here, you will get permanent quarters and I will have to tell General O’Neill something about you,” Elizabeth looked up from the laptop screen to see Aang, who by now, was standing in front of the desk fiddling with the zipper on her Atlantis issue jacket.

“I’ve been thinking myself, Elizabeth. The love of my life in my own reality doesn’t know who I am, the doctor who’s taken over the infirmary there doesn’t like me at all, and I don’t really have much of a life to go back to,” She blurted it out without thinking it through, “And I was thinking I might like to make this reality my home permanently.”

“I was hoping you’d say that, Aang. You’re good for Carson A. I haven’t seen this much bounce in his step since we rescued him and brought him back to Atlantis,” She smiled a bit mischievously, as if she were planning something, but Aang missed the smile as she shook her head, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

“Oh, Aang? Your permanent quarters will be the empty ones across from the Carsons’. If you’re working in the infirmary, you should live near the rest of the medical personnel,” Elizabeth smiled once more, “Dismissed.”

Aang took off at a fast clip, making her way through the halls of Atlantis to the infirmary, where she nearly walked straight into one of the Carsons. A quick glance at his left hand revealed the wedding band and she looked up quickly to his face.

“Carson, have you seen Carson A.?” She must have been doing badly at controlling her excitement because Carson had been chuckling at her since she’d nearly walked into him.

“Aye Lass, ‘e’s in th’ office,” Carson pointed to the little room tucked into the corner of the infirmary, and she smiled at him quickly before running off to the office to find Carson A.

“Carson A., you will never guess what Elizabeth just called me to her office for!” She tried not to yell, but the Scotsman still jumped as she ran into the office and the door accidentally slammed behind her, before he looked up at her, trying to pretend that she hadn’t just scared the daylight out of him.

“Yes Lass? What’s she told ye?” He knew it would be good news from the excitement on her face. She bounced from one foot to the other, looking a bit like a little girl who had just been told she was going to a toy store and could pick any toy she wanted.

“She told me that she wants me to stay here, in this Atlantis, permanently!” She squealed, perhaps a bit louder than she meant.

“An’ was there somethin’ else?” He looked up from his paperwork again and although his tone sounded almost bored, she could see the smile and that dimple that had always made her heart melt, and she could see the twinkle in his striking blue eyes.

“Aye, I mean yes,” she laughed as she corrected herself, having forgotten that she had a habit of picking up his accent when she wasn’t careful, “My permanent quarters are directly across from yours, I’m about to go move my things in now.”

“Aang, tha’s wonderful news, Love,” She registered his use of the pet name she hadn’t heard since before she’d come to this reality, but barely, as Carson A. stood up from his desk chair and peeled off his lab coat. He came around the desk and before Aang could react, she found herself wrapped in his arms, in a hug.

She turned her head to look up into his face, and was caught off guard as their lips touched. She pulled back and looked up at him, but his arms stayed around her and his eyes were soft, shining with tenderness as he used one hand to raise her chin gently so that she was looking into his eyes.

“Let me, Love. This is ye life now, let go o’ the past, Love,” She nodded slightly and smiled, relaxing herself and letting him kiss her again, and this time kissing him back. After a moment, they came up for a breath and she thanked the Ancients that she’d remembered to close the office door.

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