A/N: First of 10 letters, written as part of the "10 letters" challenge livejournal.

#1 Accept

Do You remember how You always used to push me to talk about the hits I took out there, to anybody, because it would help to get things off my chest? Well, I tried it, went to Your quarters and started to say something, but somehow the words got stuck in my throat – it seems that I am scared of my own voice echoing back in an empty room. So now I am trying to write to You.

If this was a regular correspondence, You would have probably asked me how I was. I am fine, I would answer (in a letter, my voice and my face wouldn't be able to give me away), but, of course, You would immediately know better. Because You always used to say that "I am fine" is the most overused lie of convenience. And You were always perceptive enough to pick up on the fact that somebody who is talking to dead people cannot, by definition, be fine.

I AM fine, though, in the sense that I am able to function and do my job. That I know my responsibilities and the limit to which I can do anything about all this. I know You counted on me not to fall apart, gambled everything on it, so I couldn't possibly. I snap at Rodney, I try to offer Carter some sort of counterweight, I take my team to missions where I try not to get in trouble, but when I inevitably do, I still do all in my power to get everyone, including myself, back to Atlantis as undamaged as possible. I am fine.

Except that, even though in my head I know that You are gone, in the places that matter I can't seem to be able to accept it. I tried to convince myself – went to all the places in the city where You could be, simply not to find you there. Your office, where the gap You left has already been filled – in that room even I am not what I used to be with You around. Your corner table at the canteen, a space still pristinely unoccupied because, with Your office hours, who knows when Your lunch breaks are. The infirmary, the storage area, meeting rooms, jumper bay… Nothing. The balcony, the place where I am exactly what I was with You. Your quarters, Your belongings packed in a neat stack of crates, but still there – the room where Your absence reverberates and hums in the air, the place where You are most markedly… not.

But it's the strangest thing – now that You are nowhere, You seem to be everywhere. I am aware that this galaxy has a way of playing tricks with people's minds. More than once I have been cheated into seeing things that weren't really there and feeling things that I didn't really feel, but I think this is more than that. I have seen long gone friends as if they were standing next to me and been propelled to past events as if they were still rolling out around me, machines and monsters have tried to yank out my memories and create new ones that weren't real, but this is.

I don't see You rounding a corner of a hallway in front of me anymore or disappearing into the woods and caves on strange planets and in most nights I don't wake up screaming Your name, but You're there. In every breath I take. And I don't know if it's a feeling I have to shake in order to recognize that You are really gone, in order to be in control of myself again, but I sure hope that it's not because right now there are days when it seems to be the only thing to keep me going and there are days when it helps me to almost forget all the things that I have lost.

I am reading these lines that I have written and I'm trying to figure out if I actually got anything off my chest and maybe I did, but it still feels heavy. I thought this would do it – that I needed to somehow say it – "You are really gone" – in order to accept it, but now this letter feels more like an explanation than acceptance.

I have always been lousy at admitting things, even to myself, so I guess the truth, realizing what I really need to do, will take some time. It's alright. Time is still one of the few things I have plenty of.