Author: Caitrin Torres
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Atlantis cried at night, or so it was said. Some said she mourned for those she'd lost; others, the damage they'd all wrought since their arrival in Pegasus. Some said that it wasn't Atlantis who cried at all, but rather those who had died, humans and Wraith alike, screaming to be heard. When he was asked, Rodney said that it was nothing but the wind blowing through the spires, and that one would think the Ancients could have designed better soundproofing, and that he had more important things to do than to sit and listen to such idiocy. He mocked the military for being afraid of ghosts and lambasted the scientists for believing in them at all, but he was quiet when Radek suggested that perhaps Atlantis mourned for all she'd seen.
Whatever her reasons, Atlantis cried at night, and soon it was such a part of life that no one bothered to mention it. On the windiest of nights, though, many wondered, and some mourned with her.
There was a time not long after the harvest festivals when Teyla often took to the halls late at night, too tired to relax and too afraid of what she might dream. The last of the festivals celebrated those who had died, and there were none more powerfully on her mind than her mother. It had been twenty years since her passing.
When her thoughts were not very difficult to ponder, Teyla looked out over the ocean and searched for Athos in the stars. She spent many nights in the practice room instead and tried to fight her demons into exhaustion. There were nights when the pain was very deep and her dreams especially treacherous, and it was on those nights that she wandered the city, nodding to the scientists in their labs and the guards by the gate. She kept watch over that which she had adopted as her own.
It was on a night very much like that when the wind was especially fierce that she heard a strange sound. She followed it to a corridor where Radek sat tinkering inside an open panel. When she asked if he had heard it as well, he pulled his earpiece from his ear and apologized for not noticing her immediately. When it was very late, he said, he asked the computer to play music to keep him awake. He had not heard her approach.
She listened as she continued her walk, and soon she heard it again. It was an otherworldly moan that floated in and out of nothingness on gusts of wind. She ignored the fleeting impulse to go back for a weapon as she followed it. The sound led her around corners and through the halls until she found herself on a dark pier not far from where the Daedalus waited. The moan grew louder and louder as she came close until it was nearly a scream, and then it abruptly fell silent. In the quiet, she heard muffled noises that could only come with tears.
"Who is there?" she called out, and the noises ended in a sharp, startled gasp. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw a half-hidden figure in the shadows.
"Hello?" she said warily, unsure of who was there. The figure emerged from the shadows, and Teyla realized that it was Laura Cadman.
"You're pretty far from your quarters for this time of night," Laura said roughly.
"As are you." Teyla saw how tightly Laura held her arms across her body and remembered what she'd heard. "Are you well?"
"I'm fine." Laura muttered. "It's late. We should go."
She started to move past her, but she stopped as Teyla caught her eyes. Teyla wondered if perhaps she saw some understanding.
After an immeasurable moment, Laura broke away. "I found this place a few months ago," she said ruefully. "I didn't know that anyone else ever visited."
"I have never been on this pier before," Teyla said. "I followed the sounds to find it."
"The-" Teyla shook her head to dismiss her growing suspicions. "It is not important."
Laura studied her until she saw whatever she needed to see in Teyla, then slid down the wall to where she had been sitting. Teyla joined her. "See up there where the stars sort of make a circle?" Laura asked. Her voice was quiet. Teyla followed her pointed finger high up into the sky. There was a cluster of stars that did form somewhat of a circle, if one used a little imagination. "If you look through the middle of it and pretend there's something there, that's where the Milky Way would be. I asked one of the astronomers once about it, and all he could say was that it was kind of the Ancients to park the city somewhere where the right stars are easy to find."
Teyla's answer was cut off by a sudden blast of wind. She shifted to get away from the draft, and she was surprised when Laura moved closer as well.
"When I was in training," Laura continued, "the instructors drilled it into us that a good Marine is tough, squared away, and ready to take on anything and succeed. I don't think that homesickness figures anywhere in that equation."
Teyla considered the stars before she spoke. "If you look below your circle and to the left, there is a line of four stars with a triangle above." She felt Laura nod against her shoulder when she found it. "On many worlds, the arrangement of stars is called the Axe. Athos is the second star from the bottom." Her voice faltered as she searched for what to say. "I would say that homesickness is something to be confronted. Perhaps the best way to conquer it is to accept it rather than pushing it away."
They sat like that for some time, looking out over the ocean and basking in the light of the stars. They remembered the dead as well as those who were merely lost. Eventually, the howling wind was too much to bear. They stood to go back home, and Laura stopped her with light touch on her arm before she kissed her softly. "Thank you," she whispered, and Teyla had no better answer than to kiss her again.
They say Atlantis cries at night, and if she does, she surely has her reasons. The sounds Teyla heard that night were not caused by the wind. That much is truth, and it is true that when they slept that night, it was in a quiet room, curled beside each other beneath warm covers. If Atlantis mourned that night, she mourned not for them.