Frith (frith_in_thorns) wrote,

story: hush

Ok, to fall in line with what I said I'd be doing with this LJ, here's a very short story which I honestly can't decide what to do with.

It's McKeller, and this is my first attempt at writing the pairing. Actually, it was written in a club, with the rest of the ice hockey team mocking me :P



He sees her at last and runs towards her, or, more accurately, lurches over the unevenness of the marsh underfoot, accompanied by squelching sounds as the boggy ground sucks at the soles of his boots, one hand raised to keep the lashing, freezing rain from his eyes. It’s hard going, and his breathing’s heavy. Each foot which is grasped by the greedy bog is harder to pull out. But he’s found her, after hours of searching, and that’s enough to make him forget the coldness and exhaustion which lies in the marrow of his bones.

A dark shape, kneeling, huddled, her wet blonde hair the only bright point in the grey marsh beneath the low grey clouds.

She doesn’t move or respond, and he calls again, his voice tinged this time with fear. “Jennifer!”

He reaches her at last and drops to his knees beside her, barely noticing how the sodden sludge of the mud oozes around his shins, dank water absorbing into the already-drenched fabric of his BDUs.

But he doesn’t dare touch her. She doesn’t seem to be aware of his presence, just sits there with the stillness of a marble statue, a stillness that terrifies him as he kneels beside her, icy fingers of rain plastering his hair flat against his skull. He reaches out a shaking hand towards her, rain dripping from his fingertips, but recalls it before it makes contact. His skin is ghostly beneath the coating of water, but still not as pale as she is.

He tries again, and this time he hears his voice falter and break. “Jennifer…”

For the first time, she lifts her head and looks at him, dark eyes glazed with rain and tears in her porcelain face. They’re turned in his direction but he’s not sure that she even sees him. He has the uncanny feeling of being stared straight through, as if he doesn’t exist, as if he’s no more than a ghost, a picture forming for a second in the curtains of falling water. He doesn’t know what to say, or do. This isn’t a puzzle to solve, an error to correct. This is not something he knows how to fix.

He’s still wondering what to do, when her almost lifeless eyes finally seem to focus on him. Water runs down her face, smooth of any expression, and he can’t tell if it’s rain or tears. He feels drops of liquid course their way down creases in his own cheeks, and wonders the same thing.

Her mouth moves, framing silent words between colourless lips.

“I can’t hear you,” he says, feeling unbearably clumsy. A few bubbles rise from beneath a clump of decaying moss roots. Some tiny purple flowers are wilting next to her feet, where her knees are drawn up almost to her chin, her arms wrapped around them, their overblown petals speckled with brown rot.

Her gaze has dropped, but she lifts it to him again. “They died.” Her voice is flat, and dull and hopeless as the seemingly endless marsh which stretches out around them in all directions, blurring at the horizon to meet the low grey sky, veiled by the falling sheets of rain.

“I know.” She doesn’t question his statement, and he feels the need to elaborate, to fill the dreadful void surrounding her with his noise. “We found the settlement when we came through the gate. The Wraith?”

She nods slowly.

“I thought…” He doesn’t want to say this aloud, but something inside him forces it out. “I thought you were dead too, or culled. But we found some people hiding, and they said they thought they’d seen you with another group, so we split up to search.”

“We were targeted,” she whispers, her voice almost drowned within the endless sound of the rain. “They didn’t care about culling us. They’d taken their fill from the settlement already. They just…fired.”

“But you escaped.” He can’t help wondering how true that statement is.

“I tripped.” She stares into his eyes, her expression pleading for something, but he can’t read people, can’t read her, and he doesn’t know what she needs him to do. So he sits there, a mere metre between them which may as well be a million miles of empty space, and just stares back as she keeps talking, slowly, hesitantly, fumbling for each word. “I was at the back, and I tripped. So I fell behind, and that… that was enough. I couldn’t… couldn’t save them…”

He feels her horror, remembering his own early missions, and the growing realisation that he didn’t fit in, didn’t know what to do, was a liability among people trained to run, to attack, to be attacked, to…kill.

“Jennifer,” he says again, and this time it’s barely above a whisper. “Jennifer, you’re safe now. Teyla went to fetch a Jumper from Atlantis. They’ll find us soon.”

She continues staring at him, her eyes wide, and now that he knows what to look for, he wonders how he avoided noticing the glazing of shock on their surface. She’s white, and so cold and exhausted that she’s hardly even shaking anymore. A whole day she’s been out here, and he didn’t realise, safe in his lab, didn’t even imagine that anything could be wrong.

He reaches towards her again, and this time finally manages to bridge the gap between them, his hand resting on her sodden shoulder, striped with strands of her dripping hair.

“Rodney…” she whispers, a sob forcing its way out at last.

Finally he knows what to do, and pulls her towards him, wrapping his arms around her frozen form, feeling her whole body shudder in his grasp. A world of water surrounding them, hiding them, but he’s not going to let the rain-grey ghosts take her from him.

He holds her close, holds her tightly, holds her as if he’ll lose her if he lets go even for an instant, and puts his mouth to her ear. “I’ve got you,” he whispers, so that those half-formed ghosts in the air around can’t hear. These words are just for her. “Hold onto me. I’ve got you. You’re safe.”
Tags: fic: sga
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