Author: Kristen999 PM
He seeks warmth while inviting the darkness. Sheppard and Team Comfort. Written for FlashFic Freezing challenge.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Drama - John S. - Words: 1,263 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 1 - Published: 02-06-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4057754
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Cold Comfort
Categories: Drama, Angst
Characters: Sheppard, Team
Summary: He seeks warmth while inviting the darkness. Sheppard and Team Comfort. Written for FlashFic Freezing challenge.
Word count: 1280
Disclaimer: None of them belong to me. No profit intended.
Thank you to Frisco for the swift beta.
Wrote this a couple of weeks ago for the Fking freezing challenge on LJ.
Sheppard squeezes his eyes closed; blossoms of red and orange flash beneath his lids, his breath hitching in his throat. There's no feeling left in his hands; they tremble, reminding him of geriatric patients locked inside veteran's hospitals. The hem of his T-shirt is untucked; his BDUs sag around his hips, his empty holster and belt almost pulling them down.
His jaw chatterers loudly; he's so damn cold. He hugs himself, longing for warmth, rubbing his hands up and down over the clammy flesh of his forearms.
The smell of smoke still reeks in the air; it fills his nostrils with ash, tickling his lungs. Black smudges stain the left side of his face; two days of rough stubble irritates his cheeks. He stumbles around his guest quarters, a room reserved for the 'honored', but it's difficult to see. There's no way he can handle lighting candles, but it's okay--- he wants the darkness to consume him.
The screams, they still pierce his ears, driving him towards the bathroom. The cold robs his muscles of strength; they're too stiff and cramped to work right. There is not enough power to generate much here, but the villagers offered him enough hot water as a thank you even though he doesn't deserve their charity.
Somehow he figures out the shower, twisting the knobs all the way in one direction until steam billows from the spray. His belt buckle becomes a puzzle he can't solve, the laces of his boots an unfathomable obstacle.
Biting his bottom lip, not feeling the pain of splitting it open, Sheppard walks under the harsh jet of water, clothes and all. He craves burning, scalding heat---like all those flames. Water soaks his t-shirt, pools in the creases of his BDUs, swirls down the drain, and his body still shivers.
He stuffs his hands between his armpits, sinks to his knees and rocks back and forth under the alien faucet.
Time stops-----loses meaning. The building explodes, the flying debris and fireball a perfect snap shot, forever scorching his retinas.
"Sheppard...Oh no, he's having a meltdown."
"Help me, Rodney."
"Are you kidding me? What do you want me to do?"
"Just move out of the way."
Voices all around, a jumble of tones and emotion. Then hands, prying, pulling, lifting.
"John, can you hear me?"
He looks up, squinting at Teyla, but his lips are too heavy to move. Someone holds him up by the shoulders while his legs buckle under his weight.
"He's freezing," a voice rumbles.
That must be Ronon, Sheppard thinks despite his muddled brains.
"Are you crazy! He was in a shower...a shower while he was still dressed just in case you forgot."
"Colonel Sheppard is in shock. We must remove these wet clothes and get him warm," Teyla instructs; her voice does not offer an argument.
A part of him wants to smile while the rest of him doesn't care, lost in all-consuming numbness.
The building incinerates, the cries for help swallowed up by more explosions.
Blackness closes in; it too is freezing, sucking all the heat from his body. Anxiety grows around him, the voices become urgent...asking...begging, pleading.
A part of him feels like a puppet with its strings cut, his arms and legs manipulated without his permission. His clothes are peeled away, limbs flopping back in place, dead and useless.
His skin begins to tingle all over, sharp pinpricks, angry bites of a million insects. He panics at the sensation, writhes and fights----running towards the flames.
"John, it's okay."
The hands are back, soothing, rubbing, holding him. Warm breath at the nape of his neck...coarse hair that tickles his bare shoulders.
Heat soaks into his weary bones and he leans against strong muscle, rests the back of his head along a collarbone.
"Cold," he whispers.
Fingers curl around his left hand, and he'd recognize Teyla's firm but gentle grasp anywhere. Goose flesh spreads across his arms, but her fingers try to soothe it away. He smells the light woody scent of oils and instinctively huddles closer to her.
Then something alarming clicks, and Sheppard snaps out of his dream state-- aware of skin on skin, almost bolting in his startling realization.
A calloused hand pushes down on his other shoulder, and he opens his eyes, not realizing they've been closed all this time. Rodney's forcing him still from the right side. "I took my clothes off to help you. No way are you streaking in front of me. Stay under the blanket and be still."
His team surrounds him, sharing heat he so desperately needs and the fabric of the wool registers with his newly awakened skin. Rodney's bare arm brushes awkwardly by his right side and Sheppard feels his face grow too warm from heated cheeks.
"Do not be embarrassed, John. You were slipping into shock; this was the only way," Teyla reassures him.
Sheppard is military; he understands these types of survival techniques but musk mixes with fresh adrenalin, causing all the dark hairs all over his body stand on end, hyper-aware of the close proximity of everyone. The energy of waking saps the rest of him and despite the inner-self that yells about breeching all of his private barriers, Sheppard relaxes within the warm glow.
The weapon's fire becomes a muted, fuzzy memory...one to be locked away with all the other bad stuff that if he allowed himself to dwell on, would drown him in the blackness of it all.
"You know there was nothing you could have done, right?" Rodney whispers in his ear, soft and gentle.
Sheppard tells all those people to take refuge inside a wooden-tinderbox. A lone primitive bomb, igniting the dried out material in seconds----then nothing.
He wants to say yes but feels a hand squeeze his shoulder. "Don't," Rodney breathes.
Teyla buries her head in his side; her long hair falls across his chest. He can feel her eyelashes open and close. "It was an accident, John," her voice swallowed by his ribs.
He still hears their screams as they burn alive, and Sheppard rubs his thumb over her knuckles.
"You would have died if you had gone in," Ronon's voice rumbles behind him, his dreads tickle as he talks.
The Satedan keeps him from running towards the shrieks of death---yanks on his tac vest then wrestles him to the ground without a word.
Sheppard closes his eyes and doesn't see death, allows his body to melt. Ronon's chest inhales and exhales against his back.
"I know," he whispers and basks in the protection of his team.