Disclaimer: Not mine. Rating: PG13/R. Setting: Later than now. Spoils: Vaguely.
Notes: Written at work, thanks to nostalgia's "Tags" which can be found: #cutid1 . Title stolen from Madonna's "Power of Goodbye". Which does not mean this is fluffy. It isn't. At all.

Freedom Comes When You Learn to Let Go by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Porcelain and rose and combinations of intermittent cream.

If he were an artist, he thinks, he would know how those worked together.

Someone once told him that kisses should taste like sugar.

Her lips are closer to salt and bitter wine.

There's sweat and grime under his hands as he traces her skin.

It's different than it should be.

More real, less fantasy.

He wonders if she wants to cry as much as he does.

They weren't supposed to end like this. Immortal ancient genes living together in a city by the bay.

Laughter might once have shaken them both, but it's fled now. Hope and laughter and lightness and sweet cool water ran away together one fine day.

Oh, it's a long long way to Tipperary...

Beckett once sang that when they were all so drunk they couldn't SEE straight. And someone tried to point out that that was Irish not Scotch, and the ensuing fight had left sugar packets in someone's cleavage. The mess hall staff hadn't spoken to them for weeks.

She is dying beneath him, but then he is dying too and he doesn't want to think about that.

The French called it la petit mort. He used to joke about how good he was at passing along the little death.

But this one is slightly bigger.

"John." Her voice grates against him, buries itself in his flesh and digs little furrows in his bones.

Time should stand still for something like this, he thinks fiercely. It should stand still and be counted, first against the wall. And he knows these aren't his thoughts anymore.

When they were first thrown into this cell, he talked big. He said they'd get out, he made jokes and they laughed.

Now he's wondering if either of them can remember when this used to be good. When it was more than desiccated flesh sliding against bone. When she actually screamed in passion when she came instead of just in pain. When she used to make a sound at all.

A tired sound slips from his lips. Half-groan half-curse. And suddenly it's all too much.

With loathing filling him, he shifts, pulls away and falls to the side. She doesn't even seem to notice, and her skin is cold. Her last breath may already have been spoken.

Except she's looking at him, her head to the side.

Yellow irises and flat green pupils stare at him, the owner almost half-smiling, her lips cracked and bleeding. The skin around her eyes is dark with circles and pain, and he doesn't want to think about how long it's been since either of them have had a bath.

The monthly hose-sprayings don't count.

"Finish."

For a horrible moment, he's sure she means for him to finish fucking her until they've both come. But she can't come with the exhaustion riddling her system. And he... he really doesn't think he can get it up anymore.

Then he realizes.

Understanding paralyzes him and he gapes at her, mouth and lips drier than they were ten seconds ago. "You--I--"

"Please."

There are marks on her skin from where the guards have slammed her into walls and floor. He sometimes felt sick that he was leaving his own marks on her body, but in the beginning, she demanded it. As a cleansing ritual, sex after rape shouldn't have felt that good.

Inconsequentially, he wonders if he would have demanded the same if he'd been her.

Possibly.

They are not sane anymore.

One plus one plus two plus ten....

Somewhere, he knows that the others have been searching for them desperately. Somewhere, he's sure that the whole of the city on the sea wants its two commanders back.

They won't find them.

He lost count of how many days passed between the capture and the now.

"John." The quiet sound draws him from his thoughts.

"I can't."

Something almost hysterical crosses her eyes, but there's no energy left in her to sustain it and it passes away.

"You can."

He wants to deny her, but he's never really been able to deny her anything. Especially not when she'd do that thing with her tongue. Which she can't do now, and he hopes he's not really mad anymore.

"Never blamed you."

The guilt that statement brings makes him close his eyes. Then he stares at her, suddenly fierce. "You're sure?"

"Yes." Her word echoes on a soft sigh.

Over the past year they have done things to her, to them. Things no human body should be able to endure. Yet they have. She broke over and over, sometimes arriving back at his side so mangled she wasn't recognizable until he saw dark green eyes staring at him with a glazed air. Sometimes, they returned him in the same condition.

It's not for information. The people guarding them could care less. They simply enjoy the artistry that comes with breaking a human body until the owner is hoarse with their own screams.

Sadism at its best.

And they thought the wraith were bad.

"John." The urgency is nearly spent, her eyes are almost closed.

Watching from outside his body would be pleasant, but he can't. He has to stay here and shift slightly so that his fingers can slide around her neck, so that he can find those correct pressure points that he was taught about so long ago.

Cracked lips twist into a smile as he moves his head and kisses her.

It's the last thing they do together, as with precision, he interrupts the regulated blood flow in her body and a massive heart attack steals the last of her life.

When the body beside him is cold he finally takes his hands away. It's been long enough that there should be permanent brain death. Even if their captors have some miracle of life machine there is nothing left in that body that is truly her.

And now it's only him in the dank cell, waiting for a rescue that will never come.

John Sheppard rather misses Earth.

-finis-