Acknowledgements: Kat, as always.
Note: written for sga_flashfic's
City exploration challenge.
CARSON sleeps on his stomach, hands splayed
out on the bed that is too wide for just one person, always
appearing to search for something that’s just out of his
reach. He’s not snoring, exactly: It’s more of a
soft, almost purring sound. Carson never sleeps lightly. With
him, it’s always all or nothing, no half measures. When
he sleeps – which has been seldom enough over the past
few weeks - he sleeps deeply. If she stays long enough, she
sometimes hears him talk in his sleep. If she’s really
lucky, he laughs - full-blown, stomach-shaking laughter. It’s
one of the most endearing things she has heard since she set
foot on Atlantis.
AIDAN is different. He’s a tosser, shifting
and turning and never once still. Maybe he’s making up
for the forced calm of the day. He, too, talks in his sleep
- but never whole sentences like Carson. She can hardly ever
make out what it’s about - sometimes she catches the name
of his grandfather, sometimes a name of a girl. It makes her
smile and she always makes sure to adjust his blanket before
she sneaks out.
MIKO is as calm during the night as she is during
the day. With her dark hair fanning out across the bright sheets,
her mouth slightly open and her hands next to her face she has
both an openness and yet a kind of serenity she hardly ever
displays in the light of day. Usually, Miko appears to be at
one with herself during the night, calm and balanced. It’s
only sometimes, during vivid dreams, that there’s a name
on her lips. Elizabeth smiled when she found out it was Rodney’s.
RADEK snores. Softly. He also always sleeps
to music - his room is never entirely still. He once explained
to her that the constant hum of Atlantis made him uneasy and
that he needed something to drown out the sound. She’s
heard him play everything from Led Zeppelin to Smetana during
the night. When she is lucky, he will smile, speak fragmented
Czech. He looks younger when he smiles, younger when he sleeps.
It doesn’t happen too often, but from time to time, she
allows herself to brush some of that wayward hair from his forehead.
He makes small contented noises she chooses to ignore, and sometimes
he leans into her. All the same, it doesn’t stop her from
stealing another casual touch before she leaves his room.
TEYLA appears calm on the surface. Nevertheless
she is nothing like Miko when she sleeps. During the day, Teyla’s
whole being is one of control, yet in her sleep, that control
slips. Her sheets are tangled, she takes up all the room the
bed has to offer. Sometimes she sprawls sidewise, sometimes
she lies with her head where her feet should rest. There always
is the scent of extinguished candles in her room, mingled with
something floral that might be a mild sedative in the form of
a herbal smoke. It’s moments like these - when the cold
sterile environment of Atlantis clashes so sharply with the
warm, earthen colours of the Athosian trinkets Teyla brought
with her - that Elizabeth realises with a pang of guilt that
Teyla doesn’t belong here. It’s then that she understands
that the missing bond to her people must feel like a severed
limb to Teyla, that the loss of a connection to actual soil
is harder to bear than the loss of her planet. In her wild moments,
Teyla thrashes violently. She never speaks, but she always intimidates
Elizabeth, if only because she never knows whether Teyla is
dreaming of the Wraith - and how many of her dreams are true.
RODNEY is curled in on himself. He has an extra
pillow he’s hugging protectively against his chest –for
warmth or for the feeling of something that will diffuse the
feeling of loneliness is something Elizabeth hasn’t yet
figured out. She wonders if his cat back home slept in his bed.
He, too, snores; he’s louder than Radek, but not loud
enough to be jarring.
He had almost given her a heart attack the first
time he’d bolted up in the middle of the night while she
was by his side and then rattled off a mind-blowingly difficult
theorem to her, only to wave a hand dismissively before sinking
back to his bed and sleeping on.
His mind never shuts down. She watches his eyes
move rapidly in REM sleep and wonders if he’s even dreaming
Sometimes he seems to dream about the happenings
on Atlantis. He grinned in his sleep after the first time Sheppard
let him fly a jumper. He never lost the frown the night after
Chaya. The night after Kolya, he’d been still - curled
into a tight ball, face tense, even in sleep. It had worried
her. That night, she had done something she had never done before
- had run long, soothing touches down over his arms and shoulders,
petted his hair, stroked his cheek like she remembered her mother
Seeing how he leans into that maternal touch now, how much he
craves it when his brain doesn’t interfere still breaks
her heart sometimes. Soothing by petting is a routine she has
learned only here, but enjoys. On earth, she never had children.
Now she has dozens, and Rodney will always be the problem child
she nevertheless looks at with the most fondness when no one
JOHN sleeps soundly, at first. Until he enters
the REM phase, he’s calm, his body relaxed under his looming
life-size Johnny Cash poster which has managed to give Elizabeth
a fright or two during especially moonless nights.
When she enters today his eyes are still and
his breathing is low and even and calm. He never stays that
way. When the first dreams come - when his eyes start to move
under his closed eyelids - his whole face grows tense. Lines
appear on his face; lines he’s too young to have. He’s
much more vulnerable in the pale silver-blue moonlight: no defenses
, no smiles to diffuse questions, no way of running. He doesn’t
curl in on himself like Rodney, isn’t protecting himself.
The only protective gesture she’s ever seen him make was
a hand shielding his face. A few times before she has wondered
if she ought to wake him, but she never does. The dreams are
his and she has no right to be here in the first place.
John doesn’t speak in his sleep. He gnashes
his teeth - something that’s much more unsettling than
Teyla’s thrashing or Rodney’s equations or Carson’s
soft keening during a bad dream. The sound carries well in the
high room and sounds alien.
She has tried many nights to do for him what
she does for Rodney and so many others, but she has never dared
to touch him - had always worried what would happen if she actually
did. Perhaps his nightmares would take a turn for the worse.
Kate Heightmeyer had once told her that waking someone from
a deep dream wasn’t advisable.
But tonight feels different. Her instincts refuse
to be governed by her mind and take over when she hears him
gnashing his teeth and sees him shifting under the sheets -
motions that threaten to be frantic but still reigned in, as
though even in sleep he’s controlling himself.
It’s an arm first. His skin is warm under
her hand, the hair on his arms a familiar male rasp. Tiny touches
at first, a thumb gliding in small circles; she’s testing
the water. He doesn’t wake and she becomes more secure
in her actions, runs a hand up his shoulder, soothing, calming,
She touches his chest and then she knows nothing
but motion and heat and cold and steel. She lands on her back
and feels a body impact with hers just as the cold steel of
a gun is pressed into the skin of her temple. She chokes, stops
breathing, heart slamming against her ribcage and she can feel
the muzzle’s pressure.
His eyes are dark and unreadable in the moonlit
room. His weight presses her into the mattress, body taut. His
face is open, but it's what she reads there alarms her. It’s
dark, wild and uncontrolled. Wanting, despising, raging, needing,
knowing. Knowing too much.
"They’re mine, Elizabeth," he
finally says and takes the gun down, rolling to his side. And
despite the fact that his weight is off her, she still can’t
"Don’t bite off more than you can
His words reverberate in the room. She starts
to shiver uncontrollably and sits up jerkily, moving away from
him. Her heart still beats too fast and she grapples with the
thought that what she saw in John scared her. More
than the Wraith or the numerous other threats here in Pegasus.
"Get some sleep," he says, softly,
his breathing now even.
She flees his room, forgetting dignity.
JOHN'S soothing touch on her shoulder the next
morning when no one's looking comes as a surprise: a gentle
back-rub that’s a stark contrast to his behaviour the
night before. “Tomorrow night’s watch is mine.”