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Alphabet Soup, C is for Cool Competence

Title: Minor Characters Alphabet Soup - C is for Cool Competence
Season: Through the end of Atlantis
Spoilers: Minor for Message in a Bottle, Divide and Conquer, 48 Hours, Orpheus, Atlantis: Enemy at the Gate, miniscule for a Homeworld Security scene from Stargate Universe. And of course, Lockdown where Dr. Brightman makes her only appearance.
Warnings: Do you know about Teal'c and tretonin? Do you know where Jack went when he left the SGC? Do you know General Hammond's ultimate fate (as mentioned in Stargate Atlantis?) Okay. I think you're good to go, although I should also mention that this is one of those fics that it was like pulling teeth to get ANYTHING down on paper, so it is not my best work, but then again, it probably doesn't read to you as being as forced as it seems to me. I'm sure you all know how that is sometimes.
Synopsis: The shy, quiet ones, who act with restraint and internalize most things can be healers too.
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV, although RDA, Michael Shanks, Teryl Rothery, and Alison Down have at one time or another. I am married to one, but since I'm only borrowing the characters, and I'm not making any profit off of them, it would really be mean and probably not very legally effective to sue him for all he's got. I don't have a salary of my own, other than the hugs, kisses, and phone calls I earn by being Mom. I suppose If you sue me, I could send you some xoxoxoxox's?

C is for Cool Competence

On the face of it Doctors Fraiser and Brightman had much in common. They were both exceedingly bright women, both doctors with residencies in both Emergency Medicine and Infectious Disease. They had both joined the Air Force because it would allow them to get the medical degrees that they wanted without a burden of debt that they did not feel ready to assume. They both even had heads of glossy brown hair with reddish highlights. But the S.G.C. infirmary staff knew better. If Dr. Fraiser, all 5'2" of her, was fire, then Allison Brightman, a tall 5'8", was ice. Ask any trained nurse, and he or she will tell you that there is a time to apply one, and a time to apply the other.

Take dealing with the flagship team, for instance. Whenever possible where Sam Carter is involved, the nursing staff would call for Dr. Fraiser. The two women were friends, and if the news was difficult, then Janet would know just how to soften the blow. If the news was good, both women could rejoice together, and if the transaction was to be merely routine, well then the rest of the infirmary staff felt it was good for the C.M.O. to get a chance to kick back and touch base with a good friend from time to time. Still, when Martouf & Lantash died, the nursing staff asked Dr. Brightman to escort Major Carter down to see the body in the morgue. The warm sympathy that Dr. Fraiser would have offered on sight would have undone the Major's fragile emotional control, and Dr. Brightman would know instinctively to hold back and only offer comfort if the dam gave way. She had the knowledge and expertise to answer any of the questions the Major might ask, she would be able to assure her that he suffered only a short time, and remind her that there was no knowledge among either the Tau'ri or the Tok'ra that would have saved him.

For Colonel O'Neill, only Dr. Fraiser would do. It was well known in the mountain that there were only two people that could bring Jack O'Neill in a full-on tear to heel: General Hammond and Janet Fraiser. They met fire with fire and could get him to back down. There was a rumor that they could even get him to apologize. The infirmary staff considered it a blessing that O'Neill's elevation to the rank of General, and thus the end of his field command ended not long after the death of Janet Fraiser. Things could have gotten ugly. Restraints no doubt would have been called into use.

Walter Harriman, a quiet man himself, picked up a great deal by watching and listening to those around him, and he observed something that the nursing staff had not. He knew that Allison Brightman had developed her own effective methods of ensuring the health of her crustiest patient, and when Walter transferred to the Pentagon and became concerned about the effects that too many meetings, too much paperwork, too many overly caffeinated late nights, with too little time to get out from behind a desk had done to the General, his first call was to Dr. Brightman. In short order a fruit basket arrived in General O'Neill's office, nicely done up in cellophane that was the nearest available color to peridot, it contained plenty of fresh fruit, several boxes of sugar-free red Jello, menus from various take-away establishments near both the Pentagon and the General's townhouse with the healthy options highlighted, an assortment of tea packets, and a flier detailing suggestions for small changes in daily routines that would add activity here and there. With the fruit basket came a pogo stick, wrapped and labeled "for the inner child". Even without knowing what the wrapped item was, his secretary was horrified, and refused to deliver it, much to Walter's delight. He took it in himself and was rewarded by the opportunity to see the General laugh long and hard. How fortunate that Homeworld Security had basement offices, and there would be no one to annoy with the thump-thump-thump of the pogo stick. The switch from coffee to tea seemed to do wonders for the General's ability to ignore and rise above the some of the more petty antics of the I.O.C. too.

The infirmary staff had no firm policy on Dr. Jackson. Indeed, whenever possible, they preferred to handle Dr. Jackson's problems themselves. He was always so courteous and polite, and who could resist those grave blue eyes? When a doctor's expertise was needed, the closest to hand was the one that was summoned for Daniel, but Teal'c was a different matter. In general Teal'c and Dr. Brightman dealt well with each other. Neither were inclined to seek out or encourage small talk, and Allison Brightman would tell him all he needed to know without any unnecessary filler. Neither was dismayed by silence, and when Teal'c, still new to tretonin, received a staff weapon to his back that resulted in a lengthy infirmary stay, he received more comfort from the simple presence of Dr. Brightman seated in the chair by his bed, filling out her paperwork and updating her files on her laptop than he did from all of Colonel O'Neill's many cups of Jello. Janet Fraiser kept trying to reassure him by explaining many test results that documented his physical healing, but that was only so much noise to Teal'c. He knew that his body was repairing itself. He worried about his soul. Dr. Brightman laid one cool hand on his massive one, and said "It will come." Not "Give it time, it will come," but "It will come." It was very reassuring.

It was that calm, that affinity for silence, and her clear, precise diction that sometimes made the unobservant think that Dr. Brightman was a little bit cold. In contrast to Dr. Fraiser's southern-bred hospitability, Dr. Brightman's New England reserve seemed a bit stand-offish. Those who knew her well, knew that this was only a surface view.

When Lieutenant Graham, in the grip of a spiking fever from the effects of the spores in the orb, began to beg his mother for a story, Dr. Fraiser ordered medications to try to help his body moderate his temperature, and ordered an ice bath be made ready. Dr. Brightman gestured to the nurse to resume wiping him down with a cool cloth, and took the young man's hand and began to recite quietly "In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon..."

When Sgt. Siler managed to rack up his third serious concussion, Dr. Fraiser brought a metal gurney to his bedside and then brought in three thick files, and placed each with great emphasis (and no little noise) on the gurney. She pointed to the slimmest of them.

"Dr. Jackson," she said.

She pointed to the thickest of them.

"Colonel O'Neill."

Finally she pointed to the third file, almost as thick as the Colonel's, and fixing the Sergeant with a fiery glare, she said, "Yours!"

When he came in with his fourth, Dr. Brightman took a different tack. She went and spoke to Major Wood, who in turn spoke to someone in the machine shop, and within a day there was a sign up in every room of the infirmary, with L.E.D.s to display numbers which could be changed at need.

Number of Days Without Injury at Stargate Command was the first line.

Number of Days Without Offworld Injury read the second.

Number of Days Without Injuries at This Facility was the predictable third.

The genius lay in the next line, a two parter:

Number of Days Without Injuries to Officers and Number of Days Without Injury to Enlisted

Sgt. Siler and Colonel O'Neill were both known for their highly competitive natures. As a matter of fact, competitiveness was second nature to most of the staff of the S.G.C. Major Griff was pleased as punch when he won both the offworld pool and the enlisted pool within days of each other on the occasion of Teal'c's pattern getting trapped in the gate. He shared some of his ill-gotten gains with Siler, over Col. O'Neill's rather theatrical indignation.

It was Dr. Brightman who put a word in General Hammond's ear in the aftermath of 9/11 that perhaps Layla Saadiq should be asked to lead the honor guard for the flag salute, and Captain Hassan should be one of those given the honor of passing the wreath into the wormhole for the S.G.C.'s memorial service to honor those that died at the Pentagon. It made him see the quiet doctor in a new light.

So those who had helped Allison Brightman run codes on arresting patients, and viewed her cool competence and her quiet command of the situation, and seen the slump of her shoulders and the downcast eyes as she quietly, and calmly called the code and noted the time of death on those occasions when all that medical science could offer was not enough, those who had seen her wait silently and observe before entering to speak to a patient, those who had felt the chill and the tremble of her hands as she soothed the brow of a patient in pain, were not surprised when they saw a few tears track down her cheeks at General Hammond's funeral. Dr. Brightman might be cool as the proverbial cucumber, but inside beat a thoughtful heart. What surprised them was the way that as soon as the funeral was over, the General's daughter, his flag in its tight triangular fold still clutched to her heart, went right over to General O'Neill, asked him a question, and responding to his glance around the grounds and answering gesture, hurried over to thank the doctor.

"My dad told me he kept you as his physician of record, even after he left the Springs for Washington, and that it was you that told him it was time to retire. He spent every possible moment of these last five months with me and with his grandkids. It was a priceless gift, for us and for him. Thank you so very much!"

Dr. Brightman's fair skin flushed at the praise, but her response was muted. She put a cool hand on the other woman's arm in a gesture of connection.

"I take comfort from that," she said quietly, nodded, and moved back among the other milling attendees.


Thanks for reading. Go read everyone else's [link to be edited in when it's all posted] on LJ, and [link to be edited in when it's all posted] on DW


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2012 10:20 am (UTC)
What a wonderful story and I love that you chose Brightman as your focus OC. Perfect. The patient files lined up on the gurney was funny, but the scene with Hammond's daughter was very precious.

Wonderfully written.

(Gold star for the funniest disclaimer!)

Oct. 15th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
I've always wanted to see a bit more of Brightman, because it seemed to me that she could have become an interesting and intricate character, but she only appeared once, so I kind of had to do it myself!

I'm glad you enjoyed this.
Oct. 15th, 2012 11:36 am (UTC)
Oh, very nice. I always kind of felt Brightman got short shrift and this is a wonderful view of her quiet presence. Thanks!
Oct. 15th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
I like Brightman, but then Eldest Daughter is one of life's quiet observers, and many people miss the true warmth that lies witthin.

My in-laws made the point of giving my kids the book People by Peter Spier, which has the message that it is one of the great wonders and beauties of this world that the world is full of people of all shapes, sizes, personalities, and creeds. A fine message to absorb at a young age, I think.
Oct. 15th, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, so wonderful -- but I think I love the bit about post-9/11 best.
Oct. 15th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Well, I live with the inspiration there. I'm just plain vanilla Northern & Western European Wasp (with a possible sliver of Native
American "princess". Maybe. If I'm especially gullible.), but my stepfather is was born and raised in Palestine, and has become a naturalized citizen. The result is that one of my brothers, and both of my sisters were living in or near New York City with the last name Hussein when 9/11 happened. My brother's then-girlfriend was a worker in the American Express building, and evacuated in time to see the jumpers hit the pavement. The relationship didn't last through the experience. My sister's fiancé worked in one of the towers, but had a breakfast meeting that morning, and survived. My brother had a job interview in one of the towers that morning, but it was cancelled at the last minute and he survived. The father of a family that my other sister had started babysitting for some 12 years previously, when the first of their kids had been born, called his wife to say goodbye and died as the floor under his feet burned. There were kids in her elementary school classroom that lost parents, uncles, aunts, and so on. My sibs and stepfather were all just as distraught as the rest of us, but they had the added joy of being called filthy Arabs, and garnering extra screening attention at airports. They're Muslims, and they had to listen to people say that a Muslim cultural center would desecrate the World Trade Center site, when it wasn't even on the site, just near it.

True story: My brother-in-law during an early family discussion of airport security hassles said "I don't see what the big deal is. I don't ever get pulled out for extra screening except when I'm with... Oh... That's just wrong!" My sister just smiled. She'd dealt with it all along, and not complained.

This would also be the stepfather who insisted I not go play at the houses of Jewish friends on Saturday. I needed to honor their day of observance. I could go on Sunday instead.

Like Rodney King said, "Why can't we just all get along?"

Diatribe over. You can come out now.

Glad you enjoyed the fic.

Edited because I'm too sleep deprived to either spell or remember to spell-check today.

Edited at 2012-10-15 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oct. 16th, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
Indeed, why can't we all just get along?!
Oct. 16th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
I have no inclination to hide during your diatribes. Cheer, yes. Cower, no.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 17th, 2012 06:58 am (UTC)
Thank you. It's especially nice to hear that since this is one of those stories (I'm sure they happen to everyone from time to time) that I just really struggled with, and it just never achieved what my Muse gave me a brief glimpse of when I started it. I'm so glad it works for others, because it spent so much time refusing to work for me!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 18th, 2012 03:15 am (UTC)
*icon love*

It's both gleeful and very useful!
Oct. 16th, 2012 01:27 am (UTC)
love the description of janet and sam's relationship

totally agree that janet used 'fire to fire' to keep jack aimed at the line

and he knew observed something
a menus from various
She went spoke to Major Woods


and when he transferred to the Pentagon
maybe, 'when Walter transferred'? sounded like jack speaking on first read...

his secretary was horrified, and refused to deliver it, much to Walter's delight

no one to annoy with the thump-thump-thump of the pogo stick
{VVBG} so totally can see jack smiling madly as he jackhammers round his office :D

and said "It will come." Not "Give it time, it will come,"
I can hear her firm priestess-tone. much like teal'c's own when stating that victory will come

fixing the Sargent with a fiery glare

almost as thick as the Colonel's
it's sad how that makes me grin silly-ly :D
Oct. 17th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
Thank you for catching those oopses (oopsi?) I've made the corrections, and sent a corrected version off to Fig.

This just goes to show that when it's late enough and I've struggled enough with a piece, sometimes even spell check and grammar review can't save me. Oddly enough in the HTML version I saved and sent to Fig, two of those corrections had already been made, which considering that I sent the file to her, and then used the file to make the post, should not have happened.

I must have then combed the file and found two of them and resaved, without thinking of making the corrections here. I was pretty tired by then.

Anyway, much gratitude.
Oct. 18th, 2012 04:20 am (UTC)
umm.. the SaveAs vs Save syndrome? make change > SaveAs > when go to close and gets asked to save mind says 'already saved, wtf? go way'
done that, no t-shirt, thank you just the same
Oct. 16th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Well done! We saw so very little of Dr. Brightman; you flesh her out well.
Oct. 17th, 2012 07:48 am (UTC)
Thank you. Dr. Brightman was a bit of a shock to the system after Dr. Fraiser, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she was simply a different person with a different affect, and I wanted to write this to express that. I'm glad it worked for you.
Oct. 16th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
Very enjoyable story, thanks for sharing. Off to rec to friends!

Melissa M.
Oct. 17th, 2012 07:51 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it. It was one of those ones that happen to all writers from time to time that was a real struggle to get written. My Muse was having a serious case of flouncing around with her lips sealed, refusing to send me any words, so I'm glad that what I finally managed to force out worked for you!
Oct. 19th, 2012 08:09 am (UTC)
Ask any trained nurse, and he or she will tell you that there is a time to apply one, and a time to apply the other.

So. AWESOME. a metaphor!

There was a rumor that they could even get him to apologize.


Walter consulting Brightman! The pogo stick! Brightman's affinity with Teal'c! (That is such FABULOUS characterization, right there.)

LOVE how she gets the subtleties. LOVE that you put her in the infirmary long before we see her in S8. You've made a character we barely know come vividly, vibrantly to life.

March edit: So I went ahead and recced it. Didn't think you'd mind. ;)

Edited at 2013-03-11 09:24 am (UTC)
Mar. 11th, 2013 04:16 pm (UTC)
Nope. Can't say that I mind at all! Thank you.
Mar. 11th, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
p.s. Did I really not manage to come over here and thank you for the feedback the first time around? Eeeeeep! Sorry for the rudeness!


The feedback always was, and always will be deeply appreciated I assure you!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )



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