fic: In Time I Might Be King [sga]

John knows how the story's supposed to end.

Spoilers for "The Tower"

Stargate: Atlantis belongs to someone else.


In Time I Might Be King
by Brat Farrar

When Mara smiles at him, beguilingly, all he can think is that he’s somehow ended up in the wrong fairytale. He’s no good-hearted woodcutter, though he’s certainly tramped through plenty of forests. Nor is he some prince, sent out to prove his worthiness. And although he is a soldier, his war isn’t over yet, and he’s far from penniless. His parents only ever had one child, and John is nothing extraordinary. There’s no box for him to fit into, no reason for him to wind up as the hero of the tale. It’s not yet time for his happily ever after.

“Stay,” she says, regally, meeting his eyes without hesitation, as though she’d never tried to seduce him. A fairytale princess, all golden curly hair and creamy skin. “Stay, be my consort. Marry me.”

“I can’t,” he tells her, although that isn’t exactly the truth. If he truly wanted this, he could make it happen. He could accept what’s being offered him, live and grow old here. Have children with her. Three, perhaps, and the youngest would be wisest and most beautiful.

“I could make you happy,” she says, lips drooping as if in disappointment, eyes wide and full of hurt. “You could be ruler. No one here is worthy, but you are.” Two years ago—one, even—he would have been flattered by this, but all he can think now is that she has no right to say it. “Stay with me.”

“I can’t,” he tells her, and it is mostly the truth. There was an oath he swore once, and duties he must fulfill.

“Stay,” she says one last time, near-desperate now, wringing her hands. “Please, Colonel Sheppard—John—”Another moment and she would be crying, except there’s the sound of someone coming down the hall toward them, and she must not show weakness. The death of Otho hasn’t ended the court’s maneuverings, and there’s still her brother left to deal with.

John’s sure she’ll manage it masterfully.

“I can’t,” he tells her, and speaks no falsehood. He has his princess already, and she is all air and dust and ancient seafoam, the whisper in the back of his head as he falls asleep. She’s old and cantankerous, but beautiful down to her bones, and to abandon her would be to cut his heart out. He’s done that once—he wouldn’t survive doing it a second time. And she’s waiting for him, ever the patient Penelope, though he’s no Odysseus.

When Mara smiles at him, pleadingly, all he can think is that he doesn't belong here and it’s past time for him to go home.
Thank you!

I loved this

Three words a writer is always thrilled to hear (or read, as the case may be).
Thank you! It took a couple tries to get the description right, but I'm pleased with how it came out.
Ages late, but I had to let you know how much I love this. The fairy tale rhythms, and John's knowledge that his princess isn't flesh and blood - so gorgeous.
Hey, there's no expiration date on these things. I'm just glad to hear that people read my stuff - it makes it easier to set aside time to write more.

So, thank you!
Oh, ah!! I am utterly smitten with this one! And, oh dear, I am thinking of "Turn the Lights Off" now, and I am trying not to cry....
I think this is my favorite of the episode tags, for many reasons.

And, oh dear, I am thinking of "Turn the Lights Off" now, and I am trying not to cry....

I think this is the biggest compliment you could have given me--that the one story influenced your reading of the other. I wonder what your reaction would have been if you'd read them the other way around....
Ah, but the order doesn't matter! To see in "Lights" the fairy tale gone hideously wrong makes each story more poignant. And I did, at first, feel only the lovely, sweet, warm impact of "I Might Be King" itself--the advantage of Attention Deficit! ;)