sheppard

sga fic: with air, with other [unfinished]

With Air, With Other

To fill a Gap
Insert the Thing that caused it—
Block it up
With Other—and ’twill yawn the more—
You cannot solder an Abyss
With Air.


Emily Dickinson

*

Sometimes Chaya appears in his dreams, kisses him the human way, clumsy lips soft against his and tasting of peaches in the sun. We could do so much together, John, she tells him. You could do so much, if you would simply let go of this useless shell. She takes his hands in hers, wipes them clean of remembered calluses and scars.

Such as what, John asks, wary even when asleep.

Protect your people from the Wraith, she offers, guileless. From everyone, everything.

John thinks of his mother lying in a hospital bed, of his father’s last fierce command to him, of his grandparents and a stray dog he’d loved once. Of a lesson learned too well. Sorry, he says, like he always does, never quite sure who he’s saying it to.

He closes his eyes as Chaya begins to reach for him and opens them to find himself alone in his too-large room and too-small bed. Alone, except for Atlantis, ever and always.

Sometimes he rolls over and goes back to sleep. Sometimes he lies still in the waiting dark and wonders just how well he’d really learned that lesson and whether it might be the wrong one.



The mornings after he dreams of Chaya, regardless of what he has scheduled, he goes around the city and checks that all the wards are in place, that the shielding spells and obfusticating charms and don’t-see-me bits of magic are still up and functional. Skips breakfast, makes the necessary excuses, tries not to spend the day looking back over his shoulder at what’s not there. Who’s not there.

“What’re you doing?” McKay demands when he catches John examining one of the main wardstones. “Are you trying to break our only defense against the wraith?”

“There’s always the city’s shield,” John points out, except they both know what that’s worth, and it isn’t much. “Think the wards would really do any good?” He taps a fingernail against the wardstone just to feel the reassuring shudder that means yes, the thing’s still powered up. It would be more reassuring if the wraith didn’t seem to eat magic as well as life force or whatever.

“Don’t want to risk them not working,” Rodney shoots back, although his attempt at assurance comes off more as cagey.

“Yeah, okay,” John says, putting his hands in his pockets. “I just had a dream, you know?” Leaving the blanks to be filled in all wrong by McKay. “Suppose it’s all in good hands, though.” He saunters off while McKay’s still deciding whether or not he should preen.

There has to be some way to keep Chaya out of his dreams; wards aren’t meant to do that ordinarily, so there’s no real reason to worry about the city’s defense systems, but he’s getting tired of this, of waking up unsure.

He tries dream catchers, until they carpet the space above his bed like some odd piece of art or a theoretical wave. Doesn’t seem to do anything about Chaya, but at least his other nightmares stop, so there’s that. Not that his dreams of Chaya are nightmares, exactly, but he’s not sure what else to call them.

Warnings, maybe.

They deepen, full of too many sensations, too many words and careful caresses from Chaya, but only every the one word from John: sorry, sorry, sorry, until it all but loses any meaning. Stop this, he almost says once, but holds his imagined tongue. Atlantis might someday need such an ally, and he daren’t risk losing her before she’s even got. Instead, he begins trying questions: why? And who were you, once upon a time? (What would the cost be, he never asks, because better he doesn’t know.) Her answers, when she gives them, sound pretty as a soap bubble and as solid. After a while he stops asking.

Not long after that, when he’s spent a week and more trying to fight loose from these dreams, when exhaustion seems to fill even his very bones, he lies on his bed, staring up at the ceiling veiled with dream catchers, and says, “I can’t take another night of this,” although whether he speaks to himself or Atlantis—well. He is very tired.

That night he has no dreams.

“Thank you,” he says when he wakes, words too small to convey his gratitude. And than he does what he should have done a month before, when he first began to guess that his dreams weren’t dreams.

“Is the Colonel in?” he asks a bleary-eyed Doctor Simpson; the sun won’t be up for another hour yet. Perhaps he should have waited for a more socially-acceptable hour, but he’s put this off too long. If he waits any longer, it won’t happen.

“It’s a bit early for a visit, but I guess I can check,” Simpson says, scrubbing at her face wearily with one hand. Next time John comes in before daylight, he’ll be sure to bring an offering of coffee with him, if they haven’t run out by then.

“Thanks.”

*

[I do like this one very much. Maybe I'll finish it sometime.]]