Ryan C. Charles
An interlude during Allies. The hive queen has given Atlantis the second data burst. The team analyzes the data. Meanwhile, John Sheppard has something he needs to do.
He gazes past the portal into her quarters. She's released the door but has not invited him to enter. "You weren't at the last briefing," he says.
"I did not see the point," she sighs, "of waiting in operations. And you did not summon me. The science teams, have they found what they are looking for?"
He stares at her. She is in shadow, folded in a chair. The chair faces a window panel. There is no real light beyond the panel, just the flicker of distant stars on endless ocean. Meditation candles light her room. She isn't meditating, he realizes. Her legs are curled under her and her profile, taken in through the half-light, is rigid.
"No," he says, "they haven't."
"Perhaps they will not." She has not turned to look at him.
"Look." He raises and lowers his hand. What is there to say? They've spoken, he knows where she is in her head. She too knows his mind. They are not necessarily at odds but it is difficult. It will always be difficult, he supposes. This threat. Their lives. Her life. "Can I come in?"
She startles, as though unaware of his discomfort until now. Unfolds one leg, lightly touches the floor with her foot. "I am sorry. Please, come in." Suddenly she is looking at him over her shoulder. Her eyes have their fill and they are warm with fellow feeling.
"I had some time to kill," he confesses. The door whispers shut behind him.
"I was meditating," she says, almost wishfully. "Peace does not come easy when the Wraith are so near."
"I know, I'm sorry."
"It is not your fault."
"I can still be sorry."
He stands beside her chair, the two of them lingering in the semi-darkness, saying nothing. If all the rest has become harder, at least this, being with her, and she with him, has not. He is fine with her silence. He is aware of the herb scent of the candles, as usually he is. The fragrance of her hair. The room is cool except where he waits, watching the unlit panel, the hushed ocean, and the flicker of candlelight on the window frame. Then he turns his head to look down at her.
"You're not going with me," he says.
Her brow creases, an unspoken question in her liquid eyes.
"If there is a mission, you're not going. I need you here."
She glances away. "Of course."
Usually it's easier when she's out there with him. Not this time. Not when they will be near the Wraith in ways that have become ... unpredictable.
"Of course," she says again.
He bends down, grazes her spine so that she will turn to him, and brushes her lips with his. There are words locked in his throat, trapped. He cannot speak them but he can show their meaning another way.
Her arm slips gently over his shoulder. She lowers both feet to the floor. They rise together, his hand on her cheek, her mouth against his, no sound in this but the slow, deep susurrus of breath.
He knows she is thinking about time. She's thinking about what happens when there's no more of it. He is thinking about it too and wondering why it feels like all the prickly points of what could be have come together in this one instant. He doesn't mind the way his heart lunges when he's near her. He's gotten used to that. He minds, though, the way he desires his life, this new way of wanting something that is just his, this edge that comes from being afraid of losing her. Where are the words for it? How can he love this desperately and not pay for it in the end?
She wraps her arms around his neck. "John."
The silky timbre of her voice. If he answers she'll hear his feelings in the raggedness his breath. He stays quiet.
"John, you will not say good-bye to me in this manner again."
That's his heart, beating the hell out of his ribs. He cups the back of her head, holds her within in his arms. Yes, I will. I always will. I have to or there will be no leaving. This is the price of loving me. This is what you're in for.
She lifts her mouth for a final kiss. It is long and immeasurably deep.
The com beeps. John draws back. He holds her eyes, quiets his breath. One moment, two moments. He taps his earpiece. "Sheppard here."
"Colonel, can you come to the science lab?"
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