Disclaimer: The characters of SG-Atlantis don't belong to me. This is a non-profit story, written for fun only.
Beta: Starsky's Strut, who I can always count on to make the story so much better than it would be without her input. However, since I always do a lot of editing and revising any remaining mistakes are mine.
Rating: A very high T
Warnings: Spoilers for season 3 and 'Circle in the Sand'. Contains angst, whump and some mild swearing.
Characters: Emphasis on Sheppard and McKay. Also Teyla, OC's and a goat.
Genre: Angst, Mystery, Gen.
Status: Work in Progress, but rest assured that I always finish a story once I've started it.
Summary: Rodney learns the hard way that Sheppard will stop at nothing to regain his trust.
Author's notes: I wanted to do a sequel to 'Circle in the Sand' since I was never satisfied with the 'all is well' ending. After writing 'Obliterated', I felt confident enough with the characters to tackle this problem, so I started juggling ideas and do some research, which ended up in a pretty solid storyline and the first couple of chapters. I will probably post every few weeks or so, alternating with chapters I'm writing for a different fandom. I'm writing that story to escape the intensity of this one every once in a while. As always constructive criticism is welcome.
John slipped, his hand gripping sharp rock while rain pelted down on him. He regained his footing, heart pounding in his throat, and then peeked over the edge of the narrow ledge. Sheets of water fell down from clouds clinging to black vertical stone with sticky wet fingers. Standing halfway up a cliff face on a mere two feet of footing, he trailed the rain down into an abyss of himself against the moist wall, he looked up. Can't even see the sky.
Come to think of it, what was he doing here? He vaguely recalled a fight, a stab in the dark, and a lot of pain. Something hardened inside, froze at the memory of more than physical loss. His legs felt numb and he struggled to keep standing, clinging to the cliff face while trying to make sense of the emptiness inside. There had been stone steps leading away from this plateau, once. But those had long since disappeared. Now there was no up, no down, only the small ledge.
He shivered, pushing down nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. A numbness crept up from his legs, causing him to steadily lose his grip on the slippery surface. Trying to control a rising panic, memories surfaced between one heartbeat and the next.
A vision of a knife drenched in poison.
Another heartbeat. A shimmer in the air, a women materializing next to him, falling to her death as she missed the ledge. She'd raked him with the poisoned knife, so he was dying… Her scream merged with the sound of another memory. That of a gun ending his friend's life. He frowned. Something was wrong with this picture. He was pretty sure the friend was McKay, and he was alive.
An image burned itself on his retina. He was rolling over a sand packed floor, his hoarse voice fading when Sheppard plunged a knife into him- Now wait just a damn minute here…
He struggled, trying to make sense of a past that didn't belong to him. Anguish threatened to overwhelm him. These weren't his memories.
He strained to hear the voice calling his name, needing to verify that he wasn't going crazy. He was still John Sheppard, and these too damn real jumbled recollection of feelings belonged to someone else. He yelled in defiance, dredging up memories of his own to keep from losing his identity.
"Colonel, are you there?"
With a start he opened his eyes, breath catching in his throat at the sight of folding shapes draping from a canopy surrounding him: fabric, surrounding the four-poster bed he occupied. Confused, he lay still on the soft mattress, the rushing sound in his ears slowly diminishing until all he heard was the pounding of rain against the monastery's large bay windows.
Memories overlaid the dreamscapes lodged in his system. A few weeks ago Kolya had him fight McKay in that arena of his. Thing was, only after he'd plunged a knife into Rodney, did Kolya lift the illusion cloaking his friend. That Godforsaken battle, if you could call it that, still haunted his nights. Unbeknownst to John who had later been out cold in the back of a jumper, Rodney had made it. McKay heard the gunshot that he must have thought ended John's life, and had transported himself on a ledge in a last ditch effort to escape Kolya's accomplish. It was Lorne who'd saved McKay that day.
Bad dreams were nothing new, but this nightmare was different– he vividly remembered standing on that ledge, even though he had never been there. In the dream he'd been McKay. The shocking part was that for a brief moment after waking up, he couldn't tell where Rodney's experiences ended and his began. I must be reading too many damn reports. He took a deep breath and pulled himself up, determined to let reality gain a foothold.
Startled, he reached for the radio on the nightstand. The last thing he needed was for McKay to sense his guilt. So he hardened his voice and tapped the earpiece.
"You have got to be kidding me," Rodney exclaimed. Savannah had glided through the monastery's hallways, her regal posture, flowing robes and all, causing a chill to run up his spine. They had climbed God knew how many steps before they arrived at what she called a guest room."You can't seriously expect me to spend the night here."
Annoyance shadowed the head priestess's pale features. "Not many men grace us with their visit, Doctor McKay." She shot him a hawk-like look, her smoke blue eyes boring into him. Why did he suddenly feel hunted? "We always keep them secluded from the novices, for obvious reasons." She flicked back a dark strand of hair accentuating her pearly skin. He would have called her a Snow-White-beauty if this creepy monastery hadn't freaked him out.
"Yeah, but this… this is…" He stood in the doorway to a room three times smaller than Katie's hydroponics lab. A ragged tapestry drew his attention, its washed out color barely resembling a monstrous goat. His eyes drifted from the drawer cabinet, to the bed. On top of the bedside table, a single candle flickered in the wind, which drafted in from the window. Despite the fresh air, the space smelled damp and stuffy, like it hadn't been used in years.
"Are they not to your liking? I know we are a simple people but we try to convenience our guests as much as possible."
"Yeah, but there's simple, and then there's your typical medieval creepy tower." His tongue betrayed his uneasiness."Does that window even close?"
Savannah stepped onto the tiled floor of the room and turned. "There is no need to keep the refreshing winds outside."
Rodney put his foot down. "Excuse me, lady. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at this ceremonial welcome diner we had, you mentioned torrential rains!"
She narrowed her eyes. "Your lack of reverence is unsettling, Doctor McKay."
He harrumphed, refusing to feel intimidated. Of course she's putting me in a solitary tower room. I bet you anything she got Colonel 'Kirk' Sheppard a luxurious suite complete with bubble bath and king-sized bed. No chance Teyla got the short end of the straw either. Savannah has treated her as an equal from the moment we set foot in this place. Bristling, he followed his hostess inside.
When he was a kid, he dreaded his father's bed time stories. The man had reveled in changing the plot of every fairy tale. With him, princesses were never rescued, let alone by handsome princes. No. Girls like Cinderella were locked away in what Rodney imagined was a room exactly like this until they had died of old age. He sighed, supposing the open window would help to keep his claustrophobia at bay.
Savannah turned and headed out. "I will lock the door behind you, Doctor."
"What?" He stuttered, not sure if he heard it right. Cinderella and the whole works of evil stepsisters passed his inner mind's eye.
She cocked her head. "Please do not feel anxious by this. It is for your own protection. The monastery does have its enemies." She threw him a disarming smile. "We would not want you to get hurt now would we?"
Before he could demand to know what she meant by that, she closed the door with a bang, the lock falling into place with a definite click. He swallowed and turned, staring at dancing shadows projected by candlelight on brickwork thick enough to keep people out. Or in.
He sucked in a breath of stale air.
Come on, McKay. You've faced the Wraith. This is nothing compared to having the walking dead suck the life out of you.
A walk in the park is what this is.
Two steps and he was at the window where darkness pressed in from the outside. The night didn't reveal much except for a sparse of green at the base of the tower where the lawn would be. The walls were sleek and straight down. Only Spiderman could traverse this structure.
He rubbed his face, clearing his skin of clammy sweat. It's just a room for crying out loud. You've had a dozen sleeping accommodations on numerous alien planets. This one is no different. And if Savannah thinks she can rattle my chain, she's got another thing coming. Forcing himself to calm down, he tapped his earpiece. "Sheppard."
When he got no answer he tried again, fully aware that John had gone to sleep hours ago while Rodney had still been ticking away on his laptop. "Colonel, are you there?" He debated cutting the man some slack, but resentment pushed him to try one more time. "John!"
He heard what sounded like someone grabbing the earpiece on the other end. "What is it, McKay." Sheppard's tired voice confirmed his suspicion that the man had been asleep.
"Tell me they've put you in a room barely bigger than the inside of a jumper with free air conditioning?" He shivered against a cold draft whipping past his skin.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
Oh, har har. Just as I thought. "Let me guess. Four poster bed, luscious drapes, thick carpets?"
"Rodney." the bite in John's voice braced him for what was coming. "Tell me you woke me up to discuss something other than the local room decoration!"
Fear dissipated in the wake of the cold shower Sheppard threw at him. He was certain now that Savannah had put him in here because of his 'lack of reverence'. That… Finch! He gritted his teeth. Fine. Whatever. I'm not going to complain about the accommodation like a good little guest. "Never mind, Colonel," he sighed. "Good night."
There was no answer on the other end. Sheppard was probably already asleep.