You know, it's not just my concentration. It's my work ethic. I'm fairly used to writing even when I don't feel like it--frankly, I'm probably better when I'm not all caught up in the rapture of how the pretty words look going together and actually think about what I'm doing--but it's slower and very not fun and usually takes a bit to find a clear rhythm to follow. Right now, I don't feel like it, so I'm not even looking at anything, just staring at my laptop screen. And watching Dr. Who. Cause he rocks.
There was this moment a week or two ago--recently?--where I said something to Madelyn via email and she emailed me back a list of every one of my posted WIPs. Not even the ones in my folder that I haven't posted. And not the ones pre-Smallville. And not including the one from QaF. I mean--a *list*. And it was scary and kind of humbling and really, really funny. I mean, for me. For those who like them, I feel like I should ask for addresses and send chocolate to you all. Really good chocolate.
I split my WiPs into three fairly separate groups, contents pending. Those I Worked on In the Last Two Weeks, Those I Worked on In the Last Two Months, and Those That I Change the Subject Really Fast If It Is Brought Up. But let's look at the first group, cause the other two just make me depressed and need brownies, and you know, I have no brownies right now.
You know the other problem? In SGA, I stopped giving tentative titles and started calling them The One With The.... and sometimes, I have no idea what it means. The One With the Fortune Teller? The One That's a Sequel to the One We Wrote? What the hell was I thinking?
Right. Active WiP, added significant amounts of ficness over the last two weeks.
Crimes Against Humanity, SGA - You know my problem? I really want to do a Sheppard POV. I really, really do. And it so doesn't fit, but I want to anyway. I just want him to go through the camp and kind of vicariously enjoy the wholesale murder. I am going to hell. And not in a good way.
They're fifteen minutes on Athos and John already knows something's wrong. Touching his radio, he makes eye contact with one of his team, a nod sending them into the brush that surrounds the SGC compound. He can feel Teyla coming up behind him, catching her narrowed gaze from the corner of his eye. "Lorne? Slow. Something's up."
A mission that starts wrong usually ends worse; John learned that the hard way, leading to three weeks as a guest of the Asgard before extradition to earth. International crimes were usually tried in space, outside planetary jurisdiction, but no one had wanted to risk John Sheppard in something that could fly.
He didn't blame them. "No patrols," he says, studying the obvious clearing that the SGC had made in the forest, leading from gate to camp.
"No gate security," she answers, frowning. "There were--six when I was taken." Her mouth tightens. "I do not like this."
John didn't either, liked it less as the scout returned. "Nothing."
Flying ships that transported people away. Sheppard motioned for his and Hallings' team to get under cover--all that bare sky was suddenly very, very worrying. "Okay, total of eighty personnel are helping the Athosians set up self-government." The way her mouth tightens almost makes him laugh. "Right. How many of your people are still locked up?"
"Here? Thirty were not taken through the gate."
"Any executions?" He doubts it, with Asgard peacekeepers checking in every so often, but Pegasus is a long way from Earth. They could manage.
"I do not think so." As they come under the cover of the forest, Teyla's frown deepens. "There have been reports of cullings, but not on Athos for years."
"Huh." The path looks less used than it should; dead leaves are scattered over it, like it hasn't been used in several dyas for anything more taxing than footsteps. "What do you call them?"
"Wraith." If possible, she tenses even more. "There have been reports on other planets, but--" She shrugs. "I have never seen a culling. I only know what I have been told, the stories of my people."
Pegasus galaxy legends, which is probably why Elizabeth hadn't bothered taking it seriously. Tightening his grip on the P-90, John considers the possibility this is something else entirely. Something's happening on Earth, and a hyperdrive ship could have come here, picked up whoever they wanted to keep if they were cutting free of the Pegasus galaxy. John was in the military long enough to know it's possible. It's just not *likely*.
The Forest People, SGA - It's--well. This one? It was really a fun concept--look! Feral people! Forests! Hunting! Bloodplay! Kind of. Then it went horribly, horribly wrong. The really depressing part is, I know I could fix it in problaby ten paragraphs or less if I could figure out what *went* wrong.
Feet or miles later, he's not sure which, he's stumbling, finally, breath hitching in his throat, *finally*, exhaustion overcoming adrenaline, *finally*, and Rodney collapses against a tree, lungs burning and every muscle turned to water.
*Run* isn't as powerful when he can't even catch a full breath, panting into rough bark, not caring what kind of splinters he's pushing into his scratched hands, the rocks against his knees, this is *insane*.
"Stargate," he tells himself, but where the fuck *is* it? The forest is all the same, dark and green and thick around him, and there's no way he can follow his own tracks back, even if he wasn't sure that they were behind him, out there, somewhere. "Elizabeth," but she isn't real, nothing is but the dark curling around him, the need to move, hide, run until he can't anymore, whoever catches him--
Oh God, he doesn't want to know what comes next.
Pushing off the tree, Rodney stumbles to his feet, dragging in deep breaths, easily avoiding exposed roots, hidden rocks, blood-red bushes and slippery moss, water rising up around his ankles, chill even through his boots.
It's almost enough to make him want to think again, whatever's driving him clear for a second, just a second where an almost-idea clears his head--
*someone is behind you*
Rodney makes it to the other side of the creek when a body collides against him, knocking him into a tangle of fern and leaves. Rodney instinctively struggles, his hand sliding to his belt--*what happened to my gun?--pulling the knife he's never used before today.
A hand traps his arm against the damp forest floor, the body settling over him and easily holding him down. Rodney stares up into Ronon's eyes, moonlight-silvered, and his breath catches in his throat.
Fingers work brutally into his forearm, fingers going numb around the knife--*were you going to use it? Against Ronon?*--and it falls to the leaves silently. Ronon bares his teeth, staring down at Rodney like they've never met.
"Ronon," he whispers, feeling the edge of a blade against his throat. Honoring those that came before, his mind offers up. Offering, maybe. Sacrifice. Something.
There's enough moonlight that Rodney can see he'd lost his shirt somehow, smudges on his skin in patterns that look like symbols, chased up and down each muscular arm, across his chest, one high cheekbone. The blade presses closer, the tip pushing against the hollow of his throat, and Rodney can feel the second it breaks the skin, blood pooling hot on his skin around the cool metal.
Of all the ways he thought he'd die in the Pegasus galaxy--and there are a lot--this hadn't never come *close* to making the list. "Ronon, what the *hell*? You *know* me. Get the fuck *off* me!"
That gets him a snarl, and Rodney's fingers feel for the knife again, like there's any chance he can possibly use it. Instinct, his mind offers up helplessly as the blade presses closer. No one wants to die, not like this.
"No," he whispers.
"No," says another voice. Ronon's head jerks around, knife moving a not very comforting distance from his unprotected neck. Rodney follows his gaze and sees Sheppard slumped against a tree, breathtakingly normal and anything but.
"Mine," Ronon says, knife moving back down, and Rodney shuts his eyes, because there's no way that Sheppard can--
There's a dull sound and something scrapes across Rodney's cheek, the weight off him so suddenly he forgets to move, opening his eyes to see Sheppard crouched beside him, close enough to touch. He looks--so normal, head tilted, mouth curved in an amused smile, but there's a knife in his hand and blood smeared all the way up to the hilt. His other hand rests just on Rodney's chest, palm pressed in silent warning. Stay down.
Rodney doesn't want to *think* what this means.
Ronon makes a soft sound, low enough to be a growl, raising all the hair on Rodney's neck. Rodney fumbles for his knife, jerking it close just as Ronon's boot comes down where his wrist was.
Sheppard gives him an approving look before his eyes flicker back to Ronon. "No," Sheppard says, reaching out too fast, swiping Rodney's blood from the cut on his throat. "Not him."
Rodney watches in fascination as Sheppard smears the blood across Ronon's forehead with his thumb, drawing another symbol into his skin. They---those are--
His eyes flicker to Sheppard, taking him in this time, dark spots on his chest and arms, the smears in patterns that his mind almost recognizes.
Ronon catches Sheppard's hand, drawing Sheppard's thumb into his mouth, licking away the blood with slow, deliberate strokes of his tongue.
ETA: Finished! The Forest People completed 12/26/2006.
Jihad - I hate this title so much it hurts me inside, but until I get something else, that's what it has to stay. I guess I should have called it The One Where Sheppard Accidentally Starts a Religion. My biggest problem is pacing it. I know where it's going and I even have a vague idea how to get there, but the build-up is just exhausting. I don't like build up. I like *action*. This is not very much action. Dammit.
Rodney watches them stand Sheppard before the altar, blue-robed priest-types stripping away his shirt with quick, impersonal motions, helping him step from his pants, boxers carefully drawn down, everything folded and held by one of them as careful hands press him to kneel.
The tags are last, and that's the first time Rodney sees uncertainly, Sheppard's head tilting back in question. One of them says something, too low for Rodney to hear, and the silver tags vanish into the pile of clothing.
All and all, it's pretty normal as the Pegasus galaxy goes, with one red-clad priest making vague allusions to the Ancestors, followed by chanting that vaguely reminds Rodney of one of the CDs of chanting monks his last girlfriend gave him in hopes he'd find it soothing.
Beside him, Teyla tenses, hand on her P-90. It has to mean something that they kept their weapons. It probably means a lot more than the fact that before the Pegasus galaxy, Rodney had never seen anyone naked as often as his teammates, and he includes sexual partners in that depressing tally. "Teyla?" Rodney says, seeing her finger caressing the safety in a way usually reserved for deadly enemies and particularly large herds of mainland deer.
"It is nothing," she says, which is a total lie. "They worship the Ancestors and all who follow their ways. It is not a danger."
Rodney flickers a look down at the group gathered around Sheppard as he waits, casual in his public nudity, back a straight line to match Teyla's.
"And that's why you're fondling your gun," Rodney says, wishing he'd thought to grab something to eat. Standing around watching Sheppard have a religious experience isn't the most entertaining thing in the galaxy, and the feast in their honor is hours away.
Teyla's mouth curves down. "Being--altered is not a pleasant experience," she says finally, and Rodney thinks of that one bad acid trip and gets it. "It was not a requirement of this trade, but the people of Atlantis are new to the galaxy. Both Dr. Weir and Sheppard agree that their traditions should be respected, and I--do not disagree."
Teyla's mouth tighten more. "When I was younger, I took such a journey as this. It was not pleasant."
Oh. "On our world, getting stoned is kind of a coming of age tradition," Rodney says, surreptitiously feeling in his pockets. No, he ate the last one while wandering around the village. Damn. Taking out his scanner, Rodney idly flips it on, staring at the flat, baseline readings. "Seriously, this isn't a big deal. Get high, eat some food, go home with trade partners."
"I understand," Teyla says, and she sighs, raising a hand to rub at the back of her neck. "It has been a difficult year."
Rodney agrees. Turning his head, he watches more people begin to enter--the townspeople, crowding close to some kind of invisible demarcation line around Sheppard and the priests. The chanting escalates in speed, voices low and almost melodic, washing over Rodney like water, and he feels himself relaxing involuntarily into the rhythm of it. Maybe neo-hippie ex-girlfriend had been onto something with the chanting thing.
The red priest bends over, bringing a shallow bowl into view, written over with vaguely familiar symbols that remind Rodney of Ancient. Squinting, he tries to read it, but the distance is too great. "Hey, Teyla--"
"It is Ancient," she says, and Rodney notices the strain in her voice is gone. "It's a welcome to the spirits to come and partake of communion with their children." The bowl is murmured over for an inordinate amount of time, then a blue clad priest takes it, pulling something like a thin brush from his sleeve before going to kneel behind Sheppard, and Rodney watches as the symbols are drawn into his skin, vividly dark, trailing above Sheppard's shoulder blades and following close the line of his spine. "It says, 'we seek mercy'," Teyla says softly as he finishes the first line. A second line starts. "'We seek peace,'" Teyla murmurs, "'We exort--no. We plead to the Ancestors for--" She stops, frowning, and Rodney sees her mouth flatten in thought. "I do not know that word."
The brush seems to move faster, Sheppard's skin pale and luminous in the soft candlelight, clean and blank as paper beneath the ink. From here, Rodney can see Sheppard's head bow a little, body loosening. Two priests move immediately to his side, but Sheppard waves them off, shaking his head slightly. "Oh." The drug must be in the ink.
He must have said it out loud, because Teyla nods agreement, eyes fixed on Sheppard.
The chanting increases, taken up by more voices, and Rodney frowns at the echo, turning to glance out the back window. "Teyla--"
"They are asking for a favor," Teyla says, brow furrowed in concentration. "A promise."
"Teyla," Rodney says, forcing the word past his lips as he slowly moves toward the back window. "Teyla, you--what is that?" Pressing his hand into the sill, Rodney stares numbly at the people in the streets, solid masses of bodies pressed close together, unmoving, as far as the eye can see. More people than could possibly live in this town, and even more in the distance, dark, shapeless masses of movement across the countryside. The chanting is too loud to hear her come up beside him, but he feels her sharply indrawn breath ruffle his hair. Rodney's mouth feels dry, like it's filled with cotton, and suddenly, the chanting is all he can hear.
Turning back around, Rodney watches them draw the final symbol at the small of Sheppard's back, the priest's words suddenly loud and sharp, edged like they could cut if they so much as breathe. "Teyla," Rodney whispers.
The priest's shout ends in sudden darkness, the candles going out at once. He thinks it's a trick of the eyes at first, a steady, slow glow, but he's been on Atlantis too long not to recognize the awakening of Ancient technology as the walls light up around them, the floor humming beneath his feet.
Looking down, his scanner is off the charts. "Teyla--what--" Her eyes follow his from wall to window to floor, the hum slipping up the backs of their calves, reverberating in every bone, and Rodney can't trace where all the power's coming from--where was it, how did they *hide it*--then Teyla's on her knees, knife out, prying up a thin wooden plank to reveal slick Ancient metal beneath their feet.
Blue priests make their way around the temple, pulling hangings and wooden panels aside, the room filling pale blue and unearthly, and Rodney finds his feet, stumbling to the edge of the balcony to look down at Sheppard, kneeling still and quiet, head bowed as the temple lights up around him.
"They hid it," Rodney says slowly, trying to work out what this means, it should be simple, but the fucking *chanting*-- "Teyla--"
"I do not know," she says helplessly, hands clutching the balcony. That word again, the one Teyla couldn't translate, Rodney can hear it now; it's all he can hear, picked up by the entire fucking *town*, low and rich and working its way into his head like a drumbeat, reverberating in the backs of his ears. "I do not--we must--"
And like that, it stops, two blue clad figures urging Sheppard to his feet, turning him slowly to face the people gathered in the temple. Sheppard's passive beneath their touch, and from the man who avoids touch as adroitly as he avoids attachment, it's the most frightening thing of all.
The red priest slowly circles Sheppard, coming to stand in the cleared space before him, and says it again, low and almost too quietly to be heard.
They hear him, though, and he turns away, dropping to his knees, head pressed to the ground, and Rodney watches in disbelief as the blue clad priests follow, arms outstretched like something out of a really terrible Indiana Jones rip-off, and it's like a wave. People follow, dropping where they stand and when Rodney turns, he can see the masses outside falling like they've been shot--God, thousands, thousands as far as he can see.
The One With the Daedalus, SGA - okay, with this one, at least I recognize what it is on sight, unlike The One That's Really Really Weird--serious, I need to rethink my provisional titles. This one is the one I really actually do want to at least get to Pegasus with. Dammit.
John hides in Sam's lab and pretends that he really likes listening to physics talk five miles above his head.
"You know," she says, noting something on the laptop while he runs a finger over the latest Ancient device she's picked up, "you're not subtle."
John blinks lazily and pretends he doesn't speak English.
She doesn't fall for that. "Okay, next one. And hey, when you're ready to tell me about your assignment to the Daedalus? I'll be right here."
John stares resentfully at the sphere she slides under his hand. "I'm guessing you've known about this for a while. You know, while I've been cooling my heels for the last three days, wondering what the fuck was going on?"
"You are so much smarter than you act," she says serenely, typing into the laptop. "Turn it over. It may have a specific tactile area that--right. Like that. Oohh," John watches it light up beneath his fingers, looking up in time to see Sam's smile of pure delight. There's still a bruise fading on her temple, and one bare arm shows healing scratches that look like something crossed between a branch and a very large bear. "And yes, I knew. I just figured the General would enjoy it more if he got to tell you." Her eyes flicker up. "Yes, that expression. The one that says, I wish I was still in Antarctica. He loves that one."
"I liked Antarctica."
Sam grins, typing something quickly before sighing and leaning back on her stool, stretching luxuriously. "Uh huh. How was the Prometheus?"
John thinks of his men, his ship, and the wideness of space all around him, the first touch on the controls, making every plane, every helicopter children's toys. There's never been anything like it. "Amazing."
Closing her laptop, Sam leans into the table on one elbow, blue eyes sharp. "He's not doing it to piss you off. That's kind of a pleasant side effect, if that's any consolation. And hey, I heard that your commander doesn't want to kill you, so that's a plus, right?"
John turns over the sphere, frowning. "I'm suspicious about the airlock incident."
"I'm sure he meant to open it sooner," she soothes, reaching for the sphere. "Now, you already memorized the file--and don't look like that, I know you--so you have any questions that, of course, you won't ask the General, because that would be sensible and totally against your code."
"I--" He stops, trying not to twitch and failing. "I just don't get why he wants me on this one."
"Your gene. Your ability to assess a situation. And hey, maybe, just maybe, he just might think you're not too bad at your job?" Standing up, John watches her stretch again, wincing at a bruised muscle.
"You shouldn't be on duty yet." Standing up, he pushes her back onto her stool, pressing her head down gently before placing his hands on her shoulders, slowly rubbing tight muscles from long hours bent over the laptop and longer hours in the field. "Seriously."
"Seriously--oh, God, yes." Her breath hisses out, and he eases her down on the lab table, watching as she crosses her arms, forehead braced against her forearm. "Seriously. I'm fine. Just some residual bruising."
"You don't have full extension in your arm." And he could tell that at a glance.
"The General wouldn't put me in danger," she says softly.
John's mouth tightens, but he's careful, working her back as slowly as he can, finding each ridged muscle, knots of old tension, feeling her go liquid beneath his hands.
"You know--oh yes, right there--you could try and just maybe, try to not piss the General off? I get your hobby is seeing how many superior officers you can alienate, but you hold the record and I don't think anyone's going to break it. You can give him a break."
John doesn't answer, sliding his fingers slowly down the line of her ribs, frowning at how thin she is. Too late in the labs, too little food, too little sleep, too much work. Typical of the scientists, doubly typical of her. "You need to eat."
Sprawled out across her lab table, she turns her head just enough for John to see her face, half-closed eyes and blissed-out expression. "I need another ten hours in the day. Why did you stop?"
Smirking, John goes back to her lower back, feeling her arch like a cat, blonde hair spread out around her like a halo. "You know," he says, pressing the heels of his hand into the long muscles just to hear her moan. "I know this great Italian place."
"Some wine, some dinner--"
"I'm not sleeping with you." Her eyes flicker open, amusement flaring outward, and John's abruptly reminded of the first and only time he tried to hit on her, before he found out she was a better ground fighter than he was. Stupid fucking Teal'c and his lessons.
"I didn't ask," Pushing his hand in, he watches her go limp again. "This is friendly, platonic, completely not-interested in your ass at all dinner. Though now you're paying, because my ego is bruised. I usually don't get shot down before I've even made an offer."
She opens one eye. "I learned it's better to be proactive about this. Dinner does sound good." She sighs, slowly sitting up, and John takes a second to watch her rotate her shoulder. "McKay will be here tomorrow. I thought I'd better be prepared."
"Practicing rejection speeches on me? I'm touched."
Sam grins and slides off her stool, shaking her head. "Come on. You can buy me dinner and I can tell you how much your lines suck." Grabbing her coat off the chair, she sparkles at him, and John thinks, a little wistfully, that it would be too easy to fall in love with her. The worst idea in his history, which would really be saying something, but God. He follows her to the door, watching one graceful hand flick off the lights. "Seriously. You're buying."
Teacher's Pet, SGA - this is actually a bit I may not use. Madelyn's working on a really *really* cool bit that this might or might not work with. Hmm.
The Pavian mission came back minus a Lieutenant Colonel and plus a orphan. Rodney still has no idea what he said during the briefing while John was charming the entire infirmary while Carson ran blood test after increasing frantic urine test after hair test--the Ancient computers had all agreed, no matter what he did. This was John Sheppard, age eight, right down to the smallest Ancient gene and the faint trace of inactive Iratus DNA buried in his chromosomes, shifting him two steps off pure human.
That's what had done it, really. A lot of things could be faked, but Carson's own fingerprints were built into John's body at the molecular level. There was no way around that.
Elizabeth had said, how? And Rodney had said, I have no fucking *clue*.
"John," Rodney says, watching John do a chip assembly for Zelenka, completely ignoring protocol by blowing bubbles from gum that someone who will be hearing from Rodney *today* had given him. "Do you remember Pavia?"
John's fingers--stalled. Just for a second, a pause, a flicker in muddy eyes, the downturned curve of his mouth tight and short, then he moves again. "Yeah."
"Elahara," John says shortly, and Rodney leans back on his stool, watching John's fingers move with more coordination than any eight year old in history. "She liked you."
Well, yeah. Leaning an elbow on the lab table, Rodney watches John's face. "Did you like her?"
John's head swivels around. "What?"
"Did you like her?" He tries to remember, but apparently, chronological regression was exhausting work, and John had fallen asleep before she'd gotten into the good parts of her speech, sacked across Rodney with touching and scary trust. Rodney faintly remembers Teyla holding John's hand while he played with one of Ronon's necklaces, and he remembers John looking up, and her wide, sudden smile, but--
"She seemed nice," John says uncertainly, both elbows on the edge of the table, legs wrapped around the rungs of the stool. "She seemed happy to see me."
Taking a deep breath, Rodney tries to find a way to frame the question. "When you spoke to her--what did you--" And God this is awkward, but this is also John and there's one thing they can count on. "John, when you saw her, how did you feel?"
John slow blinks a thought, then looks down, frowning. "I--she felt. I." John's eyebrows draw together sharply. "She was nice to me. She--" John trails off, and Rodney remembers the way her fingers brushed John's shoulder, the way he looked up sharply, the same look when they entered the village, all unconscious and as good as an emergency beacon, a red light, a stop sign at a crossroads. Adult John might never have seen it coming, but then, he'd never known what he was searching for.
"She liked you," Rodney says slowly, watching John's face. "You're right. She did. She liked you a lot."
John shrugs, fingers sliding to pick at the edge of the lab table. "She said I'd be happy."
"She said a lot of things, but she didn't tell us something we kind of need to know. John, look at me." John's head jerks up, meeting Rodney's eyes with startled attention. "You always know, even when you don't know it. Was she Ancient?"
*wistful* One day, I'm going to finish something. Or like, become a hermit. God. Just looking at this list makes me tired.