Devera (devikun) wrote in artword,
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Challange 013; Cassandra Never Did (But John Will), rated PG13, by devikun and unaccompanied_g

Title: Cassandra never did
Author: devikun
Words: 5560
Rating: PG-13/fluff
Pairing: pre McShep
Notes/spoilers: No real spoilers (vaguely set end of season 2). Also, this is incredibly, incredibly late as you might have noticed; we are both very sorry, but we still wanted to post so here it is.

Summary: Knowing or not. Saying or not. Life is as simple and as difficult as that.



Sometimes the most innocuous planets are the worst. It doesn't make any sense when he says it out loud, but John's a lot more comfortable when first contact is met with open hostility, feels better when a little weapons fire is exchanged. He's learned to be on his guard when strangers meet them smiling, when they're friendly, when they say, This way, Colonel Sheppard, and put a hand on the small of his back or his shoulder. Not that he's against being touched or anything, at least in principle, it's just that he feels a hell of a lot more secure when people aren't being so nice to them. Nice in this galaxy makes him think that there's probably a reason for it, and it's got nothing to do with being naturally warm and friendly. Some people would call that cynical. Rodney would call it realistic. John just prefers to think of it as an advanced survival instinct.

So this would be the reason why, when the smiling, friendly, touchy-feely Ryllians of M7T-654 whom they only just met walk him and his team into a large, empty dome, John's instincts are already telling him this is going to be bad. The Ryllians have been nothing but pleasant, and the dome looks completely harmless; it's just a big, round, empty room with a smooth mound of dirt in the middle of it and a hole in the arching roof directly overhead. There's nothing in it but them and the light from the skylight and the mound, and that's just the problem – there's nothing in it, and the Ryllians are leading them right to the centre of it.

And if only, John thinks, his instincts for these sorts of things were just a little more honed, they wouldn't get into these situations in the first place. He could just look at a planet designation and tell everybody, Nope, forget it, that planet is bad news. It'd avoid a lot of trouble and effort on their part, and he could save his lives for the really important stuff, like wraith attacks and killer virus and things like that. At the very least, he wouldn't need to worry about the half dozen things he's worried about right now – the single entry to the room they came through a hundred feet away, the amiable conversation Teyla is having with the Ryllian leader, Ronon stalking towards the back of the group and the three members of the Ryllian escort who kind of seem a lot more like priests than security. He wouldn't be worrying about the decreasing distance to the mound or about Rodney walking right beside him, wouldn't feel that little trip of his heart as Rodney stops and grabs blindly at his sleeve, his eyes still on his tablet, saying, "Wait, wait... There's some kind of..."

See, if John knew, without even having to come here, that things like this were going to happen, then it'd all be good. If the Ryllians had just been a little more hostile, if they'd chucked them in a prison cell or something as soon as they saw them, then they would have gotten all this out of the way already, and there wouldn't be any need for him to twist in Rodney's direction, put his hands on him and shove, hard. He wouldn't get that split second glimpse of Rodney's expression – shocked and a little hurt, like John's picking on him for no reason or something – as he stumbles back, wouldn't be thinking, I knew it, as he feels a shove in the other direction and stumbles helplessly up the gentle incline of the mound.

And there certainly wouldn't be that moment where he stumbles to his knees, light from the skylight above falling all around him, through him, thinking:

That's not the sun.

+++++++++

Consciousness is a little like malt - thick, sticky and not really as sweet as he would have liked. Also? Why is it he feels like he's been hit by a truck?

"Sheppard! Colonel!"

And why is it Rodney thinks if he's incapable of responding to one name, he'll be more likely to respond to the other? Just one of his numerous quirks of character of which John is unreasonably fond? Seriously, for a genius, John is going to have to explain a few things to him one of these days.

What? he groans, or maybe he just groans, because he's not sure anything – including his ability to form words – is working right now. He's got a ten-alarm hangover, and no party to show for it. Not exactly what he calls hospitable.

"Guys! Guys, he's coming round."

Nice commentary, but there's a strong note of relief in Rodney's voice and this kind of thing has happened often enough for John to recognize the difference between relieved for the entertainment value and genuinely relieved. So it was bad, whatever it was. Next item on the agenda, establish exactly how bad.

When he finally opens his eyes, there's his team, and they all look fine and no one's in jail. Good. That's good. Rodney is closest, his expression twisted into something half way between alarm and anger. John tries to smile at him for reassurance, and figures he probably doesn't quite get it right when Rodney's mouth only turns down more. Next to him is Teyla, and there's a little anger in her expression as well. She's smiling that reassuring smile John was trying for a second ago – and is of course pulling it off without any problems whatsoever – but there's a hard look in her eye that John only normally sees right before she whacks him one with her banto. He really hopes that look's not for him.

Behind them both, peering over their shoulder is Ronon. There's something attached to the end of his arm, and it's not his gun. Looks like the Ryllian leader, actually.

"Can you get up?" Rodney is asking and then there's one hand under John's arm and another around his waist and Rodney his hauling him up like he's nothing and for a second John is grateful, probably clings, because the blood in his brain doesn't come with and he just about goes back down again.

"- cannot take him from the temple!" the Ryllian leader is gasping as John's awareness tunes back in again after the brief blackout. "The Words must... run their course! No-one has ever-"

"Don't try to stop us," Ronon is growling and John's pretty sure he's got the Ryllian leader's feet dangling off the floor. "You tricked us into coming in here. We don't trust you."

"Wait! Ronon!" Teyla says, her hand landing on his arm, not quite willing to rescue the Ryllian leader yet, but she's always about three steps ahead of the rest of them, so Ronon eases up a bit and the Ryllian starts to breathe again. "What?" she demands. "What will happen if we remove him?"

"He will die!" the Ryllian says shrilly and at least he doesn't look happy at the prospect. "That's what I've been trying to tell you. Please, we meant no harm, but we were desperate..."

"Desperate?" Rodney repeats, and he's still got his arms around John like he's never letting go, and it's kind of nice, even if John thinks it probably shouldn't be. "Desperate? You're telling us you were desperate, and that if we take him out of here, it will kill him? You haven't even seen desperate yet. If you don't tell us how to reverse this, whatever it is you've done to him, right now, so help me God, I'll- "

Hey, John says.

And then blinks.

Hey, Rodney, he says again.

Oh. Not good. Not good at all. And Rodney must be able to feel it in his frame, the way John's world has just gone ass-over again in that one little, tiny word, because he stops mid rant and turns to look at John, blank for a second, eyes sharp and wide, mouth a soft, straight line.

"Colonel, did you just..."

Yeah, John says, and watches as Rodney's mouth falls open in realization. Yeah, I did.

Because John's talking, but there's no sound coming out.

+++++++++

There's a flurry of activity after that; Ryllians coming and going, most of them staring at John in the process. Now that one of his team has fallen helpfully into their trap, its apparently comfort and hospitality all the way. In a very short space of time, a corner – alright, well not corner exactly – of the dome is furnished with rugs, cushions, a low table. Food is brought in, spread out, wine, although they make John drink tea. He's not sure if it's for his head, which still hurts, or his throat, which doesn't hurt at all, but it's bitter and tastes a little like aniseed. John really hates aniseed.

"So, let me get this straight," Rodney interrupts in irritated summary. "He's your Cassandra? Whether he likes it or not?"

Hey, John objects, and then grimaces because of course none of them can hear him, because the Ryllians have given them a lot here in the last little while, but they've somehow taken John's voice.

"I do not know this person..." the Ryllian leader hesitates.

"An ancient Greek oracle, a – and I can't believe I'm saying this – prophet, shut up, Colonel. Someone who predicts the future."

John closes his mouth again with the only audible sound he's able to make at the moment and how does Rodney do that anyway?

"Oh, yes," comes the agreement. "He has become our Word. Through him we will know all that we must know. Understand, we did not want to deceive you, but it has been many, many generations since we have had someone capable of receiving this gift. You would never have agreed..."

Damn straight, John agrees. This isn't exactly his idea of a nice vacation; more like incarceration and if he tries to leave, well. It really doesn't matter that the Ryllians are adamant that once he's said this ‘word' of theirs he'll be free to go, since they can't say when that'll be; no one can. He's stuck here for the foreseeable future.

"How's he supposed to be your truthseer if he can't talk?" Ronon points out, reaching for one of the pieces of bluish sort of fruit that was brought in on a tray a little while ago, and he doesn't look as if he's forgiven them, but the fruit's apparently pretty good by the way he's tucking into it. "Seems kind of stupid to me."

"The Word will come upon him and he will speak, only then. While he speaks, we will transcribe the Words. You must let me go so I may fetch our scribe. Colonel Sheppard could be taken at any moment! This has been so in the past, according to our grandfathers, and great grandfathers and their-"

Great, John sighs. Right, fine. It's not as if this sort of thing hasn't happened before. Sort of. He snaps his fingers for the data tablet Rodney's still clutching.

"This is bullshit," Rodney grates under his breath as he passes it over. "There's no such thing as oracles or truthsayers or whatever you want to call them. Cassandra – if she even existed - was just a religious freak with the gift of the gab, not some kind of direct line to the gods."

While Rodney talks John switches the tablet over to Notes, pulls out the stylus and scribbles his commands, then turns it around to face the rest of them. There's silence for a second. John waits for it.

"You're not seriously thinking of giving in to these... these... insane demands, are you?!" Rodney objects, right on cue. "I mean there must be something..."

John turns the tablet back, wipes it and scribbles another message.

Rodney reads it, looks at him and then his expression collapses into annoyed acceptance. "Fine. Fine. I'll go and... check the...beam of light then. Yes, yes, carefully," he repeats before John has the chance to reiterate his order. He stands up, and then stops and stares down at John. There's a strange look on his face, and John stares back, because for a second he has no idea what Rodney's thinking.

What?

"If you want me to check this out, I'm going to need that?"

Oh. Currently John's only form of communication. Fine. It's not like he needs it or anything. He grins and hands the tablet up and he wants Rodney to know everything's fine, really. He's not dead, which is a good start, and maybe he'll get lucky and this Word or whatever it is will come –

Rodney's fingers brush his, just the slightest, unintended contact, but something arcs through John like a lightning bolt, setting all his nerves alight and for a second he thinks Oh, but I only-

And then it's lights out again.

+++++++++

When he comes to this time, the hangover is back, but at least the cushions are a little more comfortable than a hard dirt floor.

What happened this time? he asks, and forces his eyes open to find Rodney leaning over him again, and this is starting to become something of a habit.

"If you're asking what happened," Rodney says, and he looks a little rattled, like he's just had an encounter with, well not a wraith, but something he didn't like. "You... You..."

"The Word came upon you, it seems," Teyla provides with that sort of concerned calm only she can manage. John fumbles for the tablet under Rodney's arm, scrawls, AND?? with a shaky hand.

"...And," Rodney says, frowning when he reads it. "Your Cassandra act looks like a lot of fun; if your definition of fun is having a seizure while simultaneously reciting War and Peace in another language. Well, the chapter you've read, at least."

Well that explains the hit by a truck effect then.

"You... well, we don't know what you were saying, but it sounded like a variant of Ancient. And not only that, but power spiked in the room the second you went into the seizure. Which means that there's got to be something here, some kind of device, or, or... I think the beam, the light, whatever it is, maybe it over-rode something in your brain, reprogrammed you somehow, made you receptive - "

Receptive? John mouths.

"- to some sort of transmission. If I can find the source and frequency of that transmission, maybe I can work out how to shut it off."

John wipes the tablet and writes: So, still can't talk = not over yet

Rodney reads it and then his mouth twists into something approaching reluctant amusement. "Safe to say," he ventures.

Great, John sighs soundlessly, and at least no one has to be able to read his lips to know what he's saying.

++++++++

So, the Ryllian leader – actually he's their Prime Minister or something – is a little upset that John went into 'the Word' before they managed to fetch the scribe, and has since assigned someone young enough to be cadet entry in the Armed Forces to be John's shadow until the Word comes back. John wanders around a bit, just to see if that's actually true – it is – then eventually returns to his little Bedouin set up and kills some time trying to get the kid to hand over his scroll so John can teach him how to make paper airplanes. He gives up when it looks like the kid's about freaked out enough to cry and goes back to lying around staring at the ceiling. Teyla is busy talking to the Prime Minister and simultaneously fleecing the Ryllians for information, and Ronon's back at base appraising Elizabeth of the situation, while Rodney checks the place for some hint of the technology that's done – whatever it is – to John.

John must have dozed off or something though, because the next thing he knows, Rodney's back.

"Here," he grunts, throwing himself down on the cushions next to John in what John vaguely recognizes as a full scale sulk. "This will probably be of more use to you than me."

John takes it and writes, Thanks.

Rodeny just rolls his eyes when he reads it.

But John's a bit bored. He can't leave, and there's nothing to do, and there's only so many times a guy can walk around a large circular room with nothing in it before he's thinking up ways to amuse himself. Holding a conversation with Rodney when John can't talk is probably going to be good for at least an hour, so he wipes the slate clean again and writes, So, Rodney, how about those Knicks?

This time Rodney's reaction is much more satisfying. "Oh. Oh, yes, I suppose you think you're being funny? No, I didn't find anything, which I know is your actual question. Either there's nothing here – which I refuse to believe – or it doesn't work until you're... In which case we're just going to have to, well, wait... Until it, you know, happens again."

John suppresses a smirk while he wipes the pad clean and writes, Gee, thanks for caring, Rodney.

Rodney reads that and suddenly there's something different, and yet the same, so familiar, too familiar in his face. "You..." he starts and he's staring right into John's face with that peculiar brand of raw honesty that blindsides John when he's least expecting it – like right now. "I mean it doesn't... it doesn't hurt, does it? When you, before. It was hard to watch."

And for a second, John can't breathe. It's not like Rodney means anything more than he's saying; he's so honest sometimes it makes John want to run in the other direction, but that's the problem – there's no way Rodney's ever saying more than he means and John can't pretend otherwise. Half the time, that's what buoys John up. Rodney's the best, the realest friend John's ever had, but the rest of the time, John just can't help himself – Rodney's the best friend he's ever had after all; John just might be a little bit in love with him.

It doesn't hurt, Rodney, John says before he remembers he can't, but it doesn't seem to matter because Rodney blinks and says, "Oh, okay. Good. That's... You're sure?"

John laughs, and Rodney stares at him in something approaching horror.

"Okay, now that's just weird. Cut it out."

John sniggers, but Rodney looks seriously disturbed so John does his best to stop, grabs the tablet again and scrawls, Wanna play 20 Questions?

Rodney rolls his eyes again, but he's at least not worrying about whether John's little blackouts are bad for him anymore, which they aren't. Probably.

"Animal, vegetable or mineral?" Rodney sighs.

+++++

They play 20 Questions until Ronon gets back. No surprises there; Elizabeth says stay put, play along until they can find out more. Teyla's currently trying to negotiate the presence of a medial unit in the dome to see if they can find out what the light or whatever it was did to John, and the Ryllians are both bemused and resistant: John's some kind of holy man at the moment, and they neither see the need to question his ability nor appreciate the inference that he is sick.

And so far, it's been four hours since John's first episode and the Ryllians don't seem at all worried, which indicates to John that he's possibly here for the long haul.

"So," Rodney says casually, which for anyone else would be anything but casual. "I don't suppose you're feeling anything?"

They've graduated from 20 Questions to tic tac toe in Base 4 numbers and John's not sure he wants to waste the screen space to reply.

Sure, he says, and when he glances up Rodney's still staring at the tablet, hasn't realized John's already answered because of course, he can't hear him. Sure, John says again, slowly, testing, and then, because he suddenly realizes with a giddy sort of shock that he can, says, I think I'm in love with you.

The words aren't even out and his heart is pounding, and he's fighting to keep his breathing even, and he feels kind of clammy all of a sudden, and Rodney looks up and frowns at him a little and says demandingly, "Are you?"

John wasn't sure a person's heart could actually stop, but his does, he's pretty sure it does, for that split second it takes him to realize Rodney's still asking whether he feels sick...

John forces himself to smile and shake his head, and Rodney frowns again and goes back to concentrating on their game, but John's heart is still racing: with fear, with the thrill of having just done something he never thought he'd be able to do. Oh god, not good, not good at all. He feels like laughing, and it's probably a good thing he can't make any kind of vocal noise - it would probably just sound hysterical.

He always thought it would be hard, was sure it would be, but it wasn't. It wasn't hard at all.

+++++

And that's it; John is gone. It it's like the first time flying, like his first F-16, it's freedom and speed and a reeling sky; the threat of too many G's and the safety of a net underneath him. It's almost compulsive; he can't stop doing it, when Teyla's not looking, when Ronon's not looking. I wouldn't have made it without you, and, You're a better man than me. He lies on the cushions and stares dazedly at the domed ceiling and the words just come pouring out. I really respected Sumner, and, Wraith Queens terrify the crap out of me, and, I love Elizabeth like a sister. I don't really miss my Dad, but I miss Dave, he says. I already knew Nan and I would never work, he utters. I could never have saved Holland, he whispers. I like getting fucked. He's trembling after that one, like the world is coming down around him.

It's terrifying, drugging. It just keeps on spewing up out of him, like he's kept everything bottled up for too long and now it's bubbling over. He got so used to swallowing the words back down he lost the ability to say anything at all and now it's so incredibly easy. Carson arrives at some point with as many medical sensors as he and his assistant can carry and John watches him while he works, a little smile on his face, and says, I feel safe with you around.

"Eh?" says Carson, in the process of turning back towards him with a big fuck-off needled intended for John's arm. "Did you just say something, lad? Want the tablet back?"

Nah, John says while Carson's watching him and smiles innocently. He wonders if his blood pressure's up, his heart rate, if there's more endorphins in his system than there should be, too many synapses firing. He's never felt better, happier, freer. It feels like he can hardly keep it all in, like he's about to burst.

"John?" Carson asks, and his voice is for some reason coming from a very long way away. "Colonel? Are you alright?"

I'm better than alright, John says, but the room is tilting away from level and going very, very-

++++++++

"Ugh..." John says. It takes him a moment to realize he just heard that.

"His voice is back!"

Seems like it, and for a moment John just lies there and gets used to the idea.

"How- ?" he starts after a few moments of just breathing and wishing he didn't feel like he's been hit by several trucks. Of course, the second he sounds the word out he starts to cough and Jesus Christ that hurts. It feels like his throat's been scoured raw with acid.

"John. John, drink this if you can. They say it will help." Teyla's gentle voice matches her gentle hands as she props his head up and presses the edge of a cup against his bottom lip. John gasps in a few breaths and drinks and he doesn't care what it is if it helps.

"Fuck," he tries again, slumping back down to the pillows after he's swallowed a good few mouthfuls of the stuff and it does help. His voice is hoarse and weak, almost non-existent, but it's there. It's over, finally. "How long?"

"Over six hours," Rodney says and John forces his eyes open to find Rodney right there, next to Teyla, looking a little freaked. "During which you talked more than I suspect you've probably said in your entire life. It was kind of disturbing."

John wants to laugh at that because that's probably true, but he's not sure he's got that much energy. "What did I say?" Except suddenly, it hits him: holy crap, what did he say? He was...unconscious, out of it, talking in his sleep, whatever. He could have said anything, everything, could have said what he'd been saying before he blacked out and -

"Our scribe recorded everything, Colonel Sheppard," the Ryllian Prime Minister says, stepping forward and he at least has the decency to look a little sorry.

"You were talking in that language," Ronon supplies from his other side. "Couldn't understand a word."

Well, that's a relief. Maybe.

"It will take us a little while to interpret," the Ryllian continues, indicating the scribe that had been hovering around John since long before he blacked out, and John's gaze falls to the large roll of parchment in the kid's arms. "There was much to be recorded. But we owe you a debt of gratitude we can never repay. Please, consider my people and yours lifelong friends from this point forward. Whatever items we have to trade, whatever knowledge we possess, we will be more than happy to share."

"Uh... Okay," John says. "Thanks."

"That is well, Prime Minister Aeyr," Teyla agrees, glancing back to smile at John for a moment and that is definitely Teyla's ‘good work' smile. "Perhaps you would like to send for the appropriate individuals, so that I may start trade negotiations immediately?"

"Certainly," the Prime Minister allows.

"Oh, and I'd really like a look at the device on the roof," Rodney adds, and John throws him a querying look. "It was a transmission," he confirms to John. "Possibly part Ancient although I'll need to get up there and have a look before I'm sure. Carson thinks it somehow temporarily opened up new neural pathways and engaged receptors that were actually encoded by the ATA gene, and do you realize what kind of breakthrough this is?! We know that the gene works, but not how, not when it comes to exactly how it integrates and communicates with the technology. If Carson and I between us can work out on what level the transmission occurs to what receptors... You should see him, John, he's like a kid at Christmas, he's that excited."

" ‘s great, Rodney," John breathes, but his heart is racing again because he can still feel it, still remembers what it was like to say it, out loud, intentionally, and looking at Rodney's face, his bright eyes and his eager smile, nothing's changed and everything has. Christ, John suddenly wants to say it again, wants to tell everyone everything, this time while they can hear him and suddenly it's a lot less safe and a lot more terrifying and he can't... He definitely can't.

"That is very interesting, but I think we should let the Colonel rest, Rodney," Teyla suggests gently while John's still trying to breathe past the words suddenly crowding in his chest and trying to push their way up his throat and out into the air. "Ronon, perhaps you could return to the Gate and brief Elizabeth of our change in status?"

"Sure," Ronon shrugs.

"We will trust that the Ryllians will indicate when John is fully recovered enough to return, but it should be within the next hour or two, would that be correct to say, Prime Minister?"

"Indeed. In the meantime, please enjoy our continuing hospitality."

"Food would be good, but if I could really just get up on the roof..."

"Rodney." John has to grab Rodney's sleeve in order to get his attention. "Wait until Ronon's back. He can go up with you."

Rodney blinks down at him, and then smiles a little wonkily like he knows John's only saying so because even after having been possessed by some alien transmission for the last six hours, he's more concerned by the fact that Rodney and heights may not go all that well together.

"Okay, John," Rodney says a little softly and pats his hand. "Glad you're... you know, back to normal."

Is he? John's not so sure. He watches as Rodney and the others move away, but his eyelids are heavy and his body feels like it weighs a ton. He can't move, doesn't want to move in fact. The cushions are still comfortable, warmed by his body and the temperature inside the dome is perfect and he really does feel like he's been through the wringer. Maybe a little bit of a rest isn't such a bad... idea... after...

+++++++++++

When John wakes up, he feels a lot better. He hauls himself up, drinks some water and then finds himself picking at the food that's been left out for him, before he decides it's probably time to round up the team and get packing.

"Colonel Sheppard."

John turns his head to find the Ryllian Prime Minster approaching, a small scroll in his hand. John smiles. There's no hard feelings, really. Sure, it would have been nice if they'd just asked, or you know, at least been less friendly to start with, but in the end, no damage done. They'll probably be good trading partners, and as far as John's concerned, that's one more successful mission to add to the growing pile.

"Hey," he says, in way of greeting. "So, you got what you needed, right?"

The Prime Minister smiles too. "Indeed we did, Colonel, thanks to you. And your Doctor McKay says that the...conduit? Through which the Word comes to us may have malfunctioned, and that is why it does not recognize our people as it recognized you. He speaks in ways we do not understand, but he says he may be able to ‘recalibrate' it."

John suppresses a laugh. Sometimes Rodney's way with alien cultures gets them into trouble, but sometimes it really doesn't.

"Well, if that's what you guys want, he can probably do it. He's a pretty smart guy."

The Ryllian nods and then sobers. "Colonel Sheppard, there is something..." he starts, and then frowns a little and sits himself down in front of John. "We have something for you." And he holds out the scroll.

John takes it, a little warily. "What is it?"

The Ryllian smiles a little again, and indicates the scroll now in John's hands. "The Word predicts what will be - what crops will yield, what enemies come, what fortunes for our people. Many things. It is not always clear, what the message is, nor is it always good fortune. Regardless, our scribes render the Word into...concepts, impressions, images, so that the Word may be received by any and all who need it."

"Okay," John acknowledges carefully, but he really has no idea where this is going.

"And as a final gift," the Prime Minister continues slowly, "the Word gives back to the speaker from whom it took, and so this is for you. It is...personal, and the only other eyes that have looked upon it, the scribe who rendered it. I pray that when it comes to pass, it will bring you good fortune and happiness. Please know you are welcome here among us any time, so long as our two peoples exist."

"Ah, okay. Thanks," John says. "Is it... I mean, can I open it?"

"You hold in your hands something of your future, Colonel. Whether you look upon it or not is up to you."

"Right," John breathes. "Right. Maybe I'll... Thanks."

The Ryllian smiles in a fatherly way and pats John on the shoulder and then gets up and leaves John sitting there, staring at the scroll.

Something of his future, huh? That... well, that could be anything; probably unpleasant considering this is Pegasus and everything. Or it could be a message to avoid the next first contact planet that's a little too friendly. The point is, does John really want to know before he gets there after all? If he'd known before that he would be forced to mercy kill his CO, that he would wake up the wraith, maybe he would have chosen differently. Maybe he wouldn't have come here at all. And yet, here's the only place wants to be, can see himself being - with these people, Teyla, and Ronon and Carson and Elizabeth. And Rodney. Being with Rodney.

For a second, he remembers what it felt like, to just take a chance and say what he thought, how it felt to tell everyone everything he's always kept locked inside since he got here, since long before; how it felt to tell Rodney and maybe the scariest thing about that is that he still wants to. But for now, he thinks he's probably said enough.

John holds the scroll in his hand, but he keeps it closed, and the wax sealing it remains unbroken. He doesn't wonder about his future. Right now, his present is enough.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Title: Cassandra never did
Artist: unaccompanied_g
Rating: PG-13/not work-safe
Pairing: McShep



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Tags: 013 - dual, art: original art, artist: unaccompanied_g, author: devikrun, fandom: stargate: atlantis, pairing: john/rodney
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