She felt the wind tugging at her, like an invisible hand trying to pry her loose from the beam she was holding onto. One glance downwards sent several more shivers down her spine, and her heart felt like it was slowly being squeezed to a pulp. She couldn’t breathe, her throat tightened to a close. She wanted to fight it, scream at it, make it stop, but the force keeping her there was far mightier. She felt the inevitable pulling closer with every second that passed. She looked up, hoping, and then her prayers were answered when someone stepped onto the balcony. Help had arrived. She would be safe soon, alive and well.
She screamed as she felt her fingers slip away, losing her grasp. “Teylaaaaa…”
The entity smiled like a murderer standing over his victim right before the final blow. Pure evil embedded in its eyes. And then she plunged to her death and everlasting darkness.
~ fade out ~
She jolted awake, sitting up gasping for air. Her heart was beating a hundred miles an hour. She blinked a few times, trying to shake the memories of the dream. Someone at her side touched her back in a comforting manner and it made her jump away. She practically fell out of the bed, barely able to keep herself from hitting the floor hard.
“Kate?” The other person said in surprise, worry edging her voice.
“Stay away from me!” Kate backed away until she felt the wall poking in her back. “Don’t ... touch me!” She held up her hands defensively, keeping distance between herself and the other person.
“Kate, it’s okay.” The woman gently approached, holding up her own hands in an unthreatening way. “You had a nightmare. It’s okay. You’re safe now.”
“I...” Kate started, her eyes gliding around the room. Early morning light was peeping through the curtains, announcing another beautiful day. “Where am I?” She looked back at the woman standing across from her. “Who are you?”
“Sweetie.” The woman approached again but stopped as Kate didn’t seem to like her doing that. “You’re home, in your own bed.” She took another step. “You had an accident, remember.” Kate frowned confused. “I almost lost you.” There was a hint of sadness in the woman’s voice as she finally stood close enough to gently touch Kate’s arm. “I came so close to losing you.”
“I can’t...” Kate shook her head, glancing down at the hand on her arm.
“You suffered some memory loss.” The woman continued. “But you’ve improved a lot since you first woke up. Come on…” Kate reluctantly allowed the woman to pull her back to the bed. “How about you sleep some more. I highly doubt Alex will appreciate you falling asleep while helping her paint her bedroom. I’ll bring you something to drink before I leave for work.”
Kate nodded, glancing around once more. She noticed several pictures on the wall, which she decided to investigate before her companion would return. They were all pictures of her and the other woman, laughing and being happy. Some of the pictures included children and friends, one standing out in particular as it hung in a more central position. She looked over them, curious and yet confused. Her mind was fuzzy on the details as she sat down on the bed again, welcoming more sleep. She was only vaguely aware someone kissed her on the head and patted her shoulder as they left.
When next she woke, she could hear the distinct clattering of plates and cutlery, coming from where she deduced the kitchen was. Kate slowly rose from the bed, searched and found a sweater to wear and stumbled across to the door. As she entered the living area she squinted against the sunlight beaming in through a few windows. She groaned at the light and turned away from it, continuing on towards the kitchen. The moment she turned the corner, her jaw spontaneously dropped to the floor.
The young woman from many of the pictures in her bedroom was standing in the middle of the area, covered in flower and eggs, her short brown hair white as snow. Kate let her eyes glide up and down the other one’s clothes but couldn’t find a single spot that had been left untouched by the mess.
“A-lex...” She started, gesturing in the woman’s general direction. “Wha… What...” She opened and closed her mouth a few times without actual sound coming out of it, looking like a fish on dry land.
“Hey!” Kate cringed at the volume of the younger woman’s voice as she flung herself in her arms, flower and eggs being exchanged between sweaters in the process. She tried to pull away from the mess but only seemed to make things worse in the process. “Good morning, Kate.” Alex finally pulled back, her piercing blue eyes shining brightly.
“Morning.” Kate reluctantly replied, tilting her head a little. She glanced passed the blue-eyed girl, raising an eyebrow.
“I wanted to surprise you with pancakes but...” She waved at her mess. “I’m no chef.” She rubbed her hands on her trousers, leaving white streaks in their trail. “But I’ll clean it up, I promise.”
“You better...” Kate replied, wondering how many showers it would take for her friend to have no more remnants of egg and flower anywhere.
“Before Allison gets home. Cause she’s not going to like this mess. I should...” She indicated her intent.
Kate nodded. “Yes, maybe you should.” While the young woman started to clear out her warzone, she decided to go find something to wear other than her sweater, which had been blessed with remnants of flour and eggs.
After a few unsuccessful attempts she finally located the master bathroom, which wasn’t attached to the master bedroom as she’d expected. She looked around and pulled a towel from a small stack.
The moment the water hit her face, Kate relaxed and let herself be washed away for a little while. It was then, leaning against the wall of the shower, that she tried to piece the puzzle together from the moment she had woken up. The dream had been horrible and she didn’t understand half of it. She didn’t recognize the place or the people but something was very familiar about it. She wished she could remember more, other than the balcony-scene which was always the most vivid. Something about it was supposed to be important to her, but she couldn’t for the life of her put her finger on why. She wondered how much longer she would be able to keep it up, dreaming the same dream every time she closed her eyes.
She closed her eyes and sighed, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. She would have to tell someone about it, otherwise she was most certainly going to go crazy real soon. Alex, she promptly decided, she would tell Alex about the dream. Something told her, from the arrangement of the pictures, that the younger woman was somehow very important to her. Just then the water turned cold, and Kate cursed it for a second, turning it off and quickly throwing a towel around her shivering body. The shower had done her good, even though it was too short for her liking. She quickly got dressed and walked back into the general area of the apartment.
She wandered into the kitchen and noticed it was now squeaky clean, not a single trace of what had occurred there earlier. The warzone had vanished, and so had Alex. Kate felt her stomach protest at not having had anything to eat yet, and took a quick look inside the refrigerator. She was lucky and found just enough ingredients to make a simple sandwich.
Somewhere during lunch she remembered Allison had mentioned she was supposed to help Alex paint her bedroom, but the woman had failed to mention where the younger woman lived. She hadn’t found any other bedrooms in their apartment and deduced their friend lived nearby or in the same building. Luckily for her, however, she didn’t need to worry about that for too long, as the aforementioned blue-eyed girl reappeared around the corner, followed by a black lab.
“You’re back.” Kate smiled, frowning as the dog took up position next to her. He eyed the remainders of her sandwich, tilting his head a little.
“Don’t feed him that. Emily will kill me if she finds out I have been letting him have sandwiches again.” Alex glared at the dog, which immediately growled back but walked off almost like it knew it wasn’t going to get anything anyway. “So, you ready to help me paint our bedroom?”
“Yes.” Kate nodded, setting her dishes away.
“Cool!” Alex grinned. “Let’s go!”
Painting the walls pretty much lasted the entire afternoon, and then they still had to start the ceiling, which Alex decided they could easily do after dinner. She offered Kate a cup of tea and while they enjoyed their tea, they occupied the sofa in the smaller living room. Max lay at their feet, once in a while glancing up at them, his dark brown eyes curiously glancing back and forth.
“Penny for your thoughts.” Alex said as she set her cup down on the side table. Kate turned to her, frowning a little. “You obviously have something on your mind. Let’s hear it!”
“It’s nothing.” Kate smiled, trying to put as much confidence in her expression and voice as she could muster.
“Kate, you can’t fool me.” Alex tilted her head a little, shaking it at the same time. “Come on, spill it. Is it Allison again?”
“What did she tell you?” Alex shifted in the couch so she was facing Kate. “Did she tell you, you had an accident? That she almost lost you?” The younger woman rolled her eyes, feigning concern. Kate blinked confused, not sure what her friend was getting at. “Are you still having that nightmare?”
“How do you know about that?” Kate promptly set her cup down in front of her.
“You told me about it the night you...” Alex’ face turned really sad before she continued. “…The night of the accident.”
“I can’t remember that.” Kate shook her head apologetically. “And what does Alli have to do with that?”
“Allison was driving the car and she was drunk too. We should never have let her drive you home. I can’t believe you’re sticking with her after all the things she’s done. You are worth so much better.” Alex got up, picked up her cup from the side table and walked into the kitchen.
Kate followed her there, forcing her to look at her. “Are you saying the accident was Allison’s fault?”
Alex nodded. “You and Allison have been having problems for a long time now. And you tossing and turning at night hasn’t been helpful either. Emily think it’s for the best if you and Allison take a break. She thinks you might benefit from it, and Allison could have a decent night’s sleep.”
“Is that why you wanted me over to paint your room? To tell me what I should or shouldn’t do?” Kate snapped back.
“Look at yourself, Kate!” Alex replied angrily. “You look like a zombie. You have this dream every single night since it first started a few weeks ago. When are you going to acknowledge you have a problem and Allison isn’t helping?”
“Stop!” Kate yelled back, taking a few involuntary steps backwards. “Just stop!” Alex glared. “Just...” She held her hand up, bringing it all the way up to rub her forehead. “...Stop.”
“Listen, come and stay here for a while. Let Emily help you with your nightmare and take some time to take care of yourself. Doc said you working yourself to death isn’t the answer to early retirement.” Alex dared to smile a little and was apparently satisfied when Kate answered it with a little chuckle. “Please?” She sank down to sit next to Max who had come to investigate all the commotion in the kitchen. “With a cherry on top?” She matched his puppy-dog look and added an innocent little smile.
Kate bit her lower lip, shaking her head at Alex. “I can’t just...”
“Yes, you can. And you will. Tonight at dinner.” Alex got back up from the floor, patting Max on the head as she did so. “Now, let’s get cleaned up cause Emily won’t even spare me a second glance if I look like this when she comes home in a bit.” She ushered Kate out the door. “See you in an hour or so.”
Dinner was take-out pizza which Emily had picked up on her way home from work. It was a pizza each, but slices changed sides every so often until nothing remained. Not much was said while they ate and Kate didn’t mind that all, most certainly not with what was going to come next. She glanced at Allison, feeling like she was noticing the woman for the first time only now. She was tall and slender, long light brownish hair falling down her back, and two green eyes always looking just that little bit angry. She wondered what had drawn her to the woman in the first place, but was pulled from her thoughts when she heard Alex clear her throat.
“Allison, Kate is going to stay with us for a while.”
Allison looked up from picking crumbs from the carton box, glancing sideways to Kate.
Alex went on, “You both could use a good night’s sleep.”
“And emotionally it’s better for Kate.” Emily added. “In my professional opinion as a psychologist, of course.”
“Of course.” Allison echoed. “So, whose idea was this?” She glanced between Alex and Emily. “I bet it was yours, wasn’t it?” She glared at Alex who briefly glanced sideways at her partner.
“It doesn’t matter whose idea it was.” Emily continued. “The fact is, it’s necessary. And it’s not up for discussion.”
“Not up for discussion?” Allison almost choked on her last crumb. “Doesn’t Kate have a say in this either then? You making the decisions for her now.” She glared at Alex again, who briefly glanced at Kate.
“I want this.” Kate said, turning to Allison. “I am keeping you awake.”
“Sweetie, I’ve had to miss you long enough.” Allison brought her hand up to cup Kate’s face, rubbing her thumb slightly against her cheek.
“I need this.” Kate whispered as she pulled away from the caressing hand. She got up and walked out of their kitchen, Max following in her footsteps. She sank against the wall right behind the doorway, still able to hear most of the conversation that continued at the table. She could envision Allison taking a deep breath which she always seemed to do when she was about to burst out in a tirade or when they were fighting. It suddenly hit her that she had known all along. She had remembered yet had tried to ignore the signs, after all people could change.
“Why is it so impossible for the two of you to keep your noses out of our lives?” Kate could hear the barely contained restrained in the woman’s voice. “First it’s moving in next door. Then when that’s not enough it’s coming over for dinner every freakin’ day of the week.” She winced as Allison hissed and Kate could easily imagine the darker shade of green that her eyes would turn when she was pissed off like this. She wondered how the couple across from Allison was taking it, but she didn’t dare to shift back to the doorway, fearing they might see her eavesdropping. “Kate and I put our problems behind us. We have started fresh.”
“No...” Kate realized in that moment, by the tone of Alex’ voice, very matter-of-factly like, that the couple was about to see a whole new level of anger with Allison. “Kate can’t remember your problems, and you keep them hidden from her. No harm done, right? Take this opportunity to take some time to evaluate yourself. You sure as hell could use it.” As soon as she heard the chair scrape back on the floor, Kate hurried down the hallway and barely made it into the bedroom without being seen. She almost fell over Max, who had followed her in.
As soon as she was sure Alex wasn’t going to follow her into the bedroom, offering to help her pack, Kate quickly threw some clothes in a backpack, and collected a few personal items from the wall and nightstand. She didn’t need much, not having the intention to stay with her friends for too long. The apartment was hers to begin with so if Allison and she were to break up, the former had to move out and not the other way around. When she was satisfied several minutes later she grabbed the pack and made for the door where she unintentionally caught the last half of another conversation between Alex and Emily.
“Are you sure we really are doing the right thing here?” Kate dared to open the door a little further, and was just in time to witness Emily put her hand on Alex’ arm, gently forcing her to look at her. “Are we really doing this in Kate’s best interest?”
Kate could tell from her peephole that Alex was doubting, and that she seemed unsure of what the right answer was supposed to be. “I don’t know.” She sighed, leaning against the wall as she took hold of Emily’s hand on her arm, entwining their fingers. Kate smiled at the gesture, but couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy at their relationship. “But I sure as well hope we are doing the right thing here.” In that moment, Max wriggled himself in between Kate’s legs, trotting into the hallway. He was greeted by Alex who patted him on the head as he sat down by her side, his head lazily tilted to one side. “For the both of them.” She finished as she turned her full attention to Max, who welcomed the attention with open paws.
“I hope so too.” Emily turned as Kate walked back into the hallway, indicating she was ready to leave. She noticed the look of confidence which she knew was there to assure her lover that they were doing the right thing, but she also saw the smallest hint of doubt.
Alex got back up, a smile appearing on her face. Kate knew she had used Max as a distraction to quench her doubts and to gather all the confidence she could muster, composing herself as best as possible. “Let’s go then. We still have a ceiling to paint, remember.”
“I remember.” Kate returned the smile, if only for a brief moment. As they walked past the kitchen, Allison didn’t even turn to say something or just to look at her leave. There was only an angry mumble, which sent a jab through her heart, realizing in that moment that when she walked through the door of the apartment their relationship would stay behind and there would be no going back to it. Kate halted right before closing the door behind her. Alex and Emily glanced at each other, not quite sure how to respond, and she didn’t mind that they didn’t know. After all, their relationship was so much healthier than her own.
Kate lay staring at the ceiling of the guest room she was currently occupying. Alex and Emily had told her not to worry, and get some sleep. They would talk in the morning. But her head was filled with too many thoughts to even consider a good night’s sleep. She hoped the dream would not interrupt her but she knew it would be in vain. Like clockwork it came and went every night. This time, there was no one for her to annoy but at the same time no one there to comfort her when she woke up screaming. Max lifted his head as if he had heard her thoughts, crawling a little closer towards her until he was lying by her side. She patted him on the head, and scratched him behind his ears, which he seemed to enjoy every second of.
Kate sighed and closed her eyes, praying for one dreamless night. Just one.
~ fade out ~
The infirmary had been bustling with activity before but now that the alien entity had taken one of their own in its permanent grip, it was organized chaos in there. Doctor Keller worked efficiently and in perfect synch with her trusted staff. They followed her lead and worked hard on determining the best course of action. They didn’t waste any time but immediately put their patient under quarantine and managed to contain the entity from jumping to anyone else. No one considered the possibility of sacrificing this one life to save the others in the city. That was one option they weren’t willing to take. A whole horde of machines was set up and a scanner wheeled in so that Doctor Keller could determine the severity of the situation.
And all the while, one person remained standing outside the door, hugging herself but otherwise not moving much at all.
Teyla watched the medical staff disappear into the quarantined area. She could go upstairs and observe from above but her feet just wouldn’t move. Her body was frozen to the spot, too shocked to function properly.
Someone came up behind her, dropping his hand on her shoulder.
“Hey.” Ronon said, forcing Teyla to turn to him.
“I could not wake her.” Teyla said, staring up at him. She shook her head. “I tried, but she would not respond.”
“I know.” He replied, squeezing her shoulder gently. “But Jennifer will figure it out.” Teyla nodded, although not convinced that was going to happen.
“Heard anything yet?” Rodney skidded to a halt near the door. Ronon turned to him, and frowned. “What?” He said, his eyes darting back and forth between the two Pegasus natives.
“Nothing.” Ronon rolled his eyes in reply.
“Oh, you think I’m here because I want to know if there’s any danger to me.” Rodney realized. “Well, I’m not. I’m concerned for her.”
“It’s okay, Rodney.” Teyla put on a brave face and smiled at the scientist.
“I’m sorry.” He said, his voice down a notch. “I wish...” He gestured with his hands, tilting his head a little. “I’m sorry.”
“Thank you, Rodney.” She nodded, understanding his need to be there, and briefly touched his arm.
They waited around for what seemed like an eternity, like time was ticking backwards instead of forwards. It was unlike Rodney to remain patient for news, any news, but there he was still as calm as ever. Ronon commented quietly that he found that a little odd to say the least and figured it took quite a bit of restraint. The remark took Teyla’s mind away from the woman she loved, if only for a second. But the moment Jennifer appeared in the doorway, the reality of it all hit home hard.
“How is she?” Rodney, closest to the door, was the first to speak.
Jennifer shook her head in reply, sighing a little. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?” McKay pushed.
“The entity is definitely inside of her, that much is clear from our readings. Her brain is very active, as if she’s awake.”
“But she’s not.” Ronon stated matter-of-factly.
“No, she’s not.” Jennifer shook her head again. “Heart rate and blood pressure are elevated as would be expected, and we’re keeping an eye on it, but I have no idea what the entity is doing to her. If our dreams are anything to go by, it’s probably taking great pleasure in torturing her right about now.”
“And there’s plenty of material to use in her mind.” Rodney sighed defeated.
“McKay!” Ronon glared at him, tilting his head in Teyla’s direction.
“She could be stuck in unspeakable hell, or in a dream that is so real that her mind can’t distinguish it from what it really is, just a dream.” Jennifer continued.
“Like in that movie Sheppard showed me...”Ronon looked back. “...The Matrix.”
“Something like that yes.” Jennifer seemed grateful for Sheppard’s need to introduce the Satedan to Earth culture.
“But she cannot stay like this forever.” Teyla spoke up from behind Ronon, stepping around him.
“No, she can’t. Eventually her body won’t be able to handle the hyperactivity and will shut down altogether. But I won’t let it come to that. We are going to find a way to help her.” Jennifer gave a determined nod. “I will find a way, I promise.”
“She will find a way.” Rodney repeated with equal confidence. “We will find a way.” He quickly added, showing he was just as determined.
“If you want to be with her, you will need to wear a hazmat suit for protection. As long as the entity is present she’s quarantined.” Jennifer said apologetically. Teyla nodded. “Marie...” Keller called out to the nurse who walked past, looking tired like everyone else. “Could you help Teyla with a suit?”
“Of course.” Marie invited Teyla to follow her and lead her into another room, where they kept their hazmat suits in case of emergencies.
As she followed Marie, Teyla heard Ronon ask cautiously, “Shouldn’t we tell Sheppard about this?”
“I’ll tell him.” Rodney volunteered. “What about Sam? Does she know yet?”
“Yes, I told Dr. Cole to inform her of the situation earlier.” Jennifer took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “As soon as I finish my preliminary report I will have a more detailed report on Kate’s condition ready.”
Teyla carefully made her way over to the bed in the middle of the room. There was no one else around. Everyone had vacated the area minutes ago, though she knew someone was keeping track of her up in the observation room. In any other circumstances being alone with Kate would have been enjoyable but right now Teyla felt like she wanted to run as far away as possible. She just stood there, at the side of the bed, watching. The line on the heart monitor was erratic at best, but she didn’t understand much of it if she had to be honest with herself. All she knew was that her Kate was in trouble, and that she didn’t know how to help her. Her Kate needed her but there was nothing she could do, except... Teyla glanced down at her hand, or at least tried to. The helmet of the suit didn’t allow for much glancing down. Taking off the glove was just a simple pull, and dropping her hand on Kate’s arm would only be a simple stretch. It would be enough for the entity to switch bodies, but it had already been inside of her and it had left. She wasn’t good enough to meet its hunger, but Kate was a deep well of fears and insecurities, even though not all of them were her own. Teyla knew Rodney was right. There was much to feed on and the entity would not be easy to vanquish.
She took a tentative step forwards, finding herself within reach now. She stretched her gloved hand out and touched Kate’s hand. Teyla pulled it back almost immediately, frustrated that the glove prevented her from making a connection. She had to get out of the suit.
“Teyla, what are you doing?” Carter’s voice came through her radio.
“I believe I am safe.” She looked up as she was already in the process of getting rid of the hazmat suit. “I believe I am of no interest to it.”
“That’s a big assumption you’re making.” Sam’s voice softened. “But I believe I can’t stop you, can I?” Teyla shook her head, dropping the orange suit to the side. “Have yourself scanned by Doctor Keller when you leave.”
“Thank you.” Teyla nodded, grateful for the opportunity to truly offer support. She settled down by Kate’s side, leaning forward a little. She brushed a stray strand of hair out of her friend’s face and left her hand lingering for a bit. “Be strong.” Teyla whispered. “Fight it. You are strong enough to win.”
~ fade out ~
When Kate stumbled into the kitchen area of the apartment, there was no one there. Max strutted in behind her, sitting down by his plate, glancing up at her. She frowned and he tilted his head a little. He put his paw inside his plate, scratching a little to indicate that he wanted food. Then he looked up at one of the cabinets and Kate got the hint. She opened the door and found a bag of dog food in plain sight.
“Clever dog.” She smiled as she poured some of it in Max’ plate, watching in amusement as he went after the stray bits that had rolled off the plate first. She left him to his breakfast and went in search for something herself, finding someone had left her a bowl of cereal in the fridge, mixed with fresh fruit and yoghurt. “Thank you, Alex.” She took the bowl, found a spoon and settled on a chair.
Max finished way before she was done, and left her alone, going off in the direction of the living room. When she finished her cereals she placed the bowl in the dishwasher. For a moment Kate didn’t know what to do, just standing there, until she heard music coming from a room nearby which she had missed the previous night. The music became louder as she reached the door, pushing it open. Alex was seated at a large table, hunched over some papers. Max was lying on the floor by her side, observing something on the wall. Kate realized she was maybe intruding and stepped back again, but the dog had already spotted her from the corner of its eyes and had jumped up from the floor.
“Max!” Alex turned as Max bumped her chair. She noticed Kate at the door and invited her in. “Hey! Good...morning...” Her voice died down in a whisper before it gained volume again. “What happened to your eye?” The younger woman jumped up and immediately met her halfway, bringing her hand up to start prodding.
Kate pulled back, flinching. “Nightmare came with a twist this time. I fell out of bed and hit the nightstand.”
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” Alex took Kate’s arm and guided her towards her chair, pushing her down. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No.” Kate shook her head. “But I did use your last bag of peas as a substitute for an icepack in the middle of the night.”
“I don’t like peas anyway. Too green for my taste.” Alex grinned.
Kate returned the grin. “Did I interrupt...,” She turned to the drawings on the table, frowning at the images that were laid out there, “...anything?”
“I’m doing Sheppard’s concept drawings.” Alex might not have noticed the sudden change of expression on Kate’s face, but she must have noticed the way her voice trailed off. “Kate, what’s wrong?”
“Concept drawings for what?” Kate turned back to face Alex, who walked across the room to her desk.
“A comic.” Alex picked something up from there that looked like a magazine. “John lives one floor down, and he writes these comics.” She handed the comic to Kate. There was an evil looking creature on the front, its hand on someone else’s chest looking like it was sucking out the other person’s life. “He calls them Wraith. I told him it sounded too much like the Ring wraith from Lord of the Rings but he wouldn’t listen. They’re space vampires, sort of, anyway.” Alex grinned. “This was the first comic I did the drawings for after his previous artist landed another, better paying job. That’s my Wraith, and I named him Steve, after Emily’s annoying little brother.”
“I’ve seen this before.” Kate dropped the comic on the drawing table and let her fingers glide over the drawings currently being worked on.
“Of course, you have. We went out to celebrate when he sold his first comic to someone that wasn’t us.” Alex snorted. “He called it his first step towards his major breakthrough as a comic book writer.”
“No, not Steve.” Kate shook her head. “This.” She pointed at what looked like a city in the middle of an ocean. Alex frowned. “It looks familiar.”
“That’s not possible.” Alex shook her head. “I started these drawings just a week ago and you haven’t been in here since before the accident.”
“And yet this looks familiar.” Kate pointed at the city. “Do you have any other drawings of it?”
Alex nodded, walking back to the desk she had picked the comic up from, and pulled a big folder from underneath it. “These are all the ones that I have so far. I’m supposed to meet John today to go over them.”
“These are beautiful.” Kate flipped through the sketches.
“Thank you.” Alex smiled as she pulled up another chair. “I try my best to recreate John’s descriptions in as much detail as possible. And if he doesn’t like it, he will make that very clear. He really knows what he wants. His new comic is called Doppelganger. And I think I already know what I want to put on the cover. He’ll love it.” Alex seemed lost in her own thoughts as she kept talking, not noticing Kate was not following her but was staring at the images in front of her.
“This...” Kate dropped each of the drawings on the table, putting one next to the other. “I most definitely have seen this before.”When Alex shook her head, Kate pressed on, “I know I did.”
“But that’s not possible...” Alex continued shaking her head. “These haven’t been published before. And they are a product of Sheppard’s imagination and my ability to draw somewhat decently. Most certainly not copied from anywhere else.”
“I know it’s not possible, but I do know this city.” Kate pointed at the drawing, glancing at Alex. “I do. I really do.”
“I...” Alex hesitated. “I don’t see how that’s possible.” She threw up her hands in defeat. “I just don’t.”
“I can’t explain it. I just... I just know.”
Alex sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose, glancing from the drawings back to Kate. “Like I said, I promised John I’d go over to his place to talk about the comic. We’ll talk about this later.” She took the drawings and put them away. “Max needs to go out. Could you take him while I’m at John’s?”
“S-sure...” Kate hesitantly replied.
“Walk around the park and back.” Alex smiled. “Just across the road from the building.”
“Oh right.” Kate nodded, remembering the patch of green, blushing a little in the process.
“I’ll be back as soon as possible. Emily should be home around one or so. She took the afternoon off, which I’m so glad she does.” Alex smiled, continuing to talk to herself as she left the room. “Darn right, she can use it. Always working so hard. Girl’s got to have fun too.”
The last Kate heard of Alex was her ‘Bye Max’ as the door closed behind her. She sighed and then walked out into the hallway, already finding the dog there, holding his leash.
“Want to go out that badly?” She patted him on the head, took her coat and walked out the door.
There was a light breeze and a pale sun trying its very best to at least pretend to be warm. Kate pulled her coat closer around her and followed Max, who was pulling on his leash, to the park across the street. There were few people out and she had to admit to not being too unhappy about that. A little peace and quiet was not too much to ask for at the moment.
Max pulled her across the full length of the park and back, investigating everything in his path, blessing every lantern at least twice. As he sniffed a garbage can, which Kate was sure he wasn’t really supposed to do, she glanced around a bit. She noticed a little girl, with pigtails, running towards her, with her mother a few lengths behind her trying to keep up.
“Teyla, don’t run too far now!” The woman yelled out to her daughter. The little girl laughed as she shook her head, her pigtails jumping up and down.
“Teyla...” The name lingered on Kate’s lips as the girl passed her, waving her little hand at her. “Teylaaaaaa…” Her mind faded to black as the flashback hit her with full force, for which Kate hadn’t been prepared. The world faded around her while she desperately tried to hold onto it, without much luck. She gasped for air, stumbling towards a bench she had passed just a few seconds before. People glanced at her curiously but there wasn’t anyone who stopped to ask if she was doing alright, which was just typical. Until someone materialized by her side, making her jump.
“Miss, are you okay?” Kate blinked confused at the sound of a woman’s voice nearby. “Miss?” A hand landed on her shoulder and she jumped at the contact. “I’m sorry. Should I call someone?”
Max barked nearby which was enough to bring the world around her back into focus. “I’m sorry...” Kate frowned as she glanced up at the woman bent over her, worry edged around her eyes. “I think I must have... Everything went black before my eyes.”
“Are you in any pain?” Kate shook her head, as she took the hand the woman offered to help her up.
“Thank you.” She nodded gratefully. “I should probably go home.” She gestured in the vague direction of the apartment building, gripping Max’ leash tighter knowing he’d lead her back if she wanted him to.
“Do you want me to come along? Make sure you get home safely?” The woman’s brown eyes looked her up and down. “You don’t look too good. Maybe I should go with you just to be on the safe side.” Kate tried to object but it was of no use. “Teyla! ”
The little girl bounded back to her mother, spotting Max and making straight for him.
“Don’t annoy the dog, honey.”
“But he’s sweet.” The girl cuddled him behind his ears, and Max promptly lay down on his back so she could give him the full petting treatment.
“Come on, honey. We need to take the lady home.”
“But...” Kate protested once more, but was silenced when a stern finger went up in the air.
“No buts. We’re coming with you.” The woman replied. “And no amount of sulking will save you here.”
“She’s always like that.” Kate looked down as Teyla pulled her jacket. “When I’m not listening.” The girl winked knowingly.
“Great.” Kate mumbled as she followed Max and the friendly woman back to the apartment.
~ fade out ~
Teyla had yet to leave Kate’s bedside; her friends brought her everything so she didn’t have to move unless she had to visit the bathroom. And even then they made sure there was always someone there to keep watch. Rodney did his best to offer as much support as was possible, given he was Rodney. However, Teyla was convinced Ronon had taken him aside and threatened him with something dangerous and life-threatening if he wasn’t on his best behavior. The person she saw the least of was John, but she didn’t blame him for that. She knew he felt responsible for what had happened on the planet and in Atlantis. She had tried talking to him but he wouldn’t let her in.
Halling had come by as well, and had brought her a book Jinto had picked up on off-world trading mission. Besides the book he had brought along a talisman which had belonged to her mother a long, long time ago; she had given to Jinto when he came of age. It had brought her good luck, and now the luck would be his. But the boy had given it back with the simple message that she might be needing it more than him. He had sent along a prayer to the Ancients for Kate, which had brought tears to Teyla’s eyes.
The book told of a leader who had been bounced into the position after a disaster hit her tribe. She had to overcome a multitude on difficulties and trials to reach her one true love and to rid the galaxy of an evil race of beings. It could have been the story of her life; the similarities were scary and a little bizarre. At first she had started reading in silence but after a while she had continued out loud, reading the story to the sleeping woman, hoping it would bring comfort. John had told her about parents reading stories to their children right before bedtime. She’d been unsure whether the stories were meant to give them sweet dreams or nightmares, for the stories – the colonel had called them fairytales – were rather frightening.
“You still reading to her?” Teyla turned from the book in her hands to Jennifer, who had entered behind her. “It’s a beautiful tale.” She continued as she started checking Kate’s vitals. “The heroine saving the girl, and they live happily ever after.” The doctor smiled. “Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?” She added a wink, making Teyla blush a little as she dipped her head.
“How is she?” Teyla inquired as Jennifer went over some read-outs.
“Still the same, I’m afraid. However...” Jennifer frowned.
“However?” Teyla rounded the bed and came up behind the young doctor, glancing over her shoulder to see what was so intriguing.
“Look here.” Keller stepped aside a little so Teyla had a better view and pointed at some lines on the paper. “You see these. And these.” She shifted position and pointed at two different areas.
“What is that? What does that mean?” Teyla frowned confused and shaking her head a little.
“It looks like something happened that brought out a conscious response, and not a simulated one like the ones the entity produces.” Teyla must have looked even more confused because Jennifer explained, “She’s dreaming very vividly. So vividly in fact that her mind is fooled into thinking it’s the real world. That she’s awake instead of asleep.” Teyla nodded. “These readings indicate that her brain is active as if she’s going about her daily life.”
“Like it would were she awake?”
“Yes.” Jennifer nodded. “Exactly. However, these readings indicate there was a spike in her EEG which means there was a moment in her mind that the entity lost control and maybe something of her real life seeped through into her virtual dream state.”
“You think she’s fighting back?” Sam’s voice sounded over the intercom, the both of them looking up to see the Colonel standing behind the glass window.
Jennifer sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s possible but I can’t know for sure until I’ve done some tests first.”
“Okay.” Sam acknowledged from above.
“I’ll be right back.” Jennifer smiled as she started to leave. Teyla nodded, returning to her book and telling the tale of the heroic warrior on her quest to rid the galaxy of evil beings.
Jennifer turned at the door, briefly glancing back to the Athosian leader, hunched over her book. She shook her head, in an attempt to clear it and to put her thoughts back in order. She was clueless about what to do about the entity and how to help Kate survive. She knew there had to be a way but for now the answer remained a mystery. She quickly disposed of her hazmat suit and returned to the observation room where Sam was still standing near the window. She noticed Colonel Sheppard leaning against the wall, just out of sight, and Rodney hovering nearby. Jennifer didn’t immediately see Ronon anywhere but she knew he was close. They always were.
“Doctor.” Sam smiled as Jennifer positioned herself next to her by the window.
“I can’t guarantee my tests will show anything.” She said, staring down into the isolation room. Jennifer felt more helpless than she was ready to admit.
“I’m sure there will be something we can use.” Sam reassured the head of medicine.
“If she believes the dream is real, wouldn’t it stand to reason that this memory might confuse her?” John pushed himself away from the wall and stepped into plain sight, just as Teyla turned to glance back at them. He could distinguish a small nod, which he returned with a small wave of his hand before he planted it firmly back onto the iron bar in front of the window.
“It’s possible, yes.” Jennifer nodded.
“I’d probably be confused.” Rodney said as he stepped up next to John.
Jennifer sighed. “I wish I knew a way to communicate with her.”
“Maybe there is a way...” Rodney started. “We just haven’t found it yet.” He added reluctantly, glancing down at his hands.
“We need another crystal...” Jennifer said matter-of-factly. “And to study its behavior in a controlled environment.” She added quite determined.
“Are you insane?” John said in exasperation. “Didn’t this one do enough damage as it is?”
“It’s all we’ve got right now.” Jennifer noticed the sheer look of shock cross Rodney’s features, and realized that it was more than an appropriate reaction if she had to be honest with herself. She would have probably reacted in much the same way if anyone else had suggested this crazy idea instead of her. The thought of what could happen if this new crystal too were to escape and wreak havoc with the members of the expedition, were enough to make Jennifer realize just how insane her idea sounded.
“I agree.” Carter said as she turned to John and Rodney. “She has a good point.”
“Wh-what?!?” Rodney gasped. “Have you lost your mind too?”
“No.” Sam shook her head. “Colonel, I want you to assemble a team and go back to the planet as soon as possible.” John nodded reluctantly, knowing it was pointless to object. “And Rodney, I need you to set up a controlled environment in one of the labs. I don’t want another member of this expedition ending up in here once we have obtained another crystal.” Rodney’s eyes turned wide as if to say that he was under no circumstances going to follow that order, though the stern look that followed and the glimpse of Ronon entering were enough to have him nod.
Ronon waited for his two team mates to disappear out of the room before turning to Sam. “What can I do to help?” He leaned against the iron bar, briefly allowing his gaze to focus on his friends down below.
“Jennifer needs to do some tests.” Sam replied to the question.
“They won’t take long.” The doctor added for good measure.
“I would like for Teyla to get out of here for a bit. I would like her to get some sleep but that’s probably asking too much. Just have her relax for a bit. Maybe she’s interested in a sparring session to blow of some steam.”
“Maybe...” Ronon nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. No promises.”
“I know.” Sam smiled a little, knowing all too well it would probably require a restraining order and several marines to carry Teyla out of there right that moment. She doubted though that the marines would succeed in the first place. She sighed as Ronon left, with Jennifer in tow, glancing down when they reappeared down below. Marie had entered with several pieces of equipment, an aid helping her set it all up. Carter could tell when Teyla looked up that there was no pleasure for her leaving her best friend’s side, glaring at both her and Ronon, who started to look a lot like a whipped dog right then.
Sam suspected there was something going on between Kate and Teyla but it had not yet culminated into anything solid by the looks they tended to give each other in passing or in meetings. It had been quite notable in their meeting a day earlier when Teyla had barely been able to keep her gaze off Kate. She realized in that instant that finding a solution, which would lead them to a happy ending, was more than ever a priority. She stepped away from the railing, straightened her jacket and strode out of the room determined to find that happy ending for them.
~ fade out ~
Kate gasped awake, momentarily at a loss as to where she was until she found Max lying on the rug near the television. He raised his head, tilting it a little as he looked at her curiously. She brought her hands up to rub her eyes, and dropped back against the pillow. Yet again she had been dreaming although this time it had been slightly different though the outcome had still been the same. The entity in her dreams always won. Kate turned on her side but lifted her head again as she heard familiar voices and giggling in the hallway. She glanced at her watch and couldn’t help but smile as she realized who was fumbling for their key outside. She briefly wondered if she had to prepare herself for half-naked Alex and Emily to stumble through the hallway to barely make it to their room. She could still remember the time Mrs. Rosenberg had left the elevator, carrying Emily’s Victoria Secret to the door of the apartment and hanging it around the doorknob. It had been a priceless sight. One that still made her chuckle. It became even more hilarious when residents complained and called the elevator company to tell them that something was wrong with it since it got stuck all the time. Kate knew better when she once caught Alex and Emily getting hot and heavy inside, forgetting they had reached the top floor. Alex’ hand had been well on its way underneath Emily’s skirt while the latter had her hands roaming around underneath the younger woman’s T-shirt. They had blushed fiercely and they had to hear about it for a very long time. It made for good story telling when friends came over.
Max got up from where he was lying and strutted into the hallway where she heard them finally getting the door open. There was more giggling and then a loud thump when both went down to the ground. Kate could barely contain a chuckle when she heard Alex curse Max for getting in the way of their fun.
The moment they appeared in sight, Kate dropped back down onto the pillow and sneaked a peek from between half-closed lids at the couple. Alex had pushed Emily up against the wall of the hallway, kissing her long and hard. Her hand had disappeared underneath the other woman’s blouse. Kate thought it miraculous they were still fairly well dressed since it happened on more than one occasion that clothes were scattered all over the building, resulting in the other residents hanging more than just bra’s on the doorknob. Alex pulled back and started kissing Emily’s face and neck, working her way up to her earlobe where she did something that brought great pleasure to her lover as she almost buckled through her knees.
“Oh shoot...” Emily exclaimed as she clearly had noticed Kate, whom quickly closed her eyes hoping the couple would buy it. “Kate!” Next she heard was another innocent little curse as Alex realized they’d been giving a show. There was the sound of nearing footsteps and then an audible sigh of relief. “It’s okay, I think she’s asleep.”
“Then maybe we should let her. Could be the first decent sleep she’s had in weeks.” There was more shuffling but Kate didn’t dare to move.
“I’m worried about her.” Emily said. “If these nightmares don’t get any better, it will take a toll on her physical state as well as her emotional state.” There was something Kate could definitely agree on.
“Don’t you think I know that.” Alex replied. “If only...”
“No!” Emily shut her girlfriend up and it almost startled Kate to open her eyes but she managed not to do that. She was, however, interested to hear what Emily would say next. “Don’t! Don’t go that route again. It wasn’t our fault. We didn’t know Allison had more to drink than those few glasses we saw, and you know she’s great at fooling people.” Kate knew in that instant that Alex’ offer to stay with them was her trying to make up for her failure to protect her, even though Kate could take care of herself just fine. She felt warm inside to know that there was someone out there that would do everything in her power to keep her safe and happy.
“Still...” Alex mumbled some incoherent words before returning to coherence. “There won’t be a next time. I’ll make sure of that.”
“I know you will.” Emily’s voice was filled with confidence. “One of the reasons why I love you so much.”
“I hate it when you do that.” Kate couldn’t keep herself from looking and found that Emily was staring into Alex’s blue eyes, smiling a little and caressing her face. She remembered that gesture was Alex’ weakness and if Emily needed something done she’d do just that.
“I know.” Emily giggled, letting her go. “But it won’t stop me from doing it again next time it’s required.”
“In that case...” There was more giggling and when Kate sneaked another peek she caught the last of Alex’s back disappearing around the corner towards their bedroom.
~ fade out ~
The retrieval team sent back to the planet to find another crystal had been quick about it, not wasting any time with the unnecessary sightseeing, some of them were notorious for. The crystal had been dropped off at the lab where doctors Zelenka and McKay had set up shop, turning it into a biohazard zone. There was strict control on who could enter, guards at all time and a sensor calibrated to detect any and all movement of almost anything. Sam had instructed them to keep her in the loop and that’s what they did, every half hour.
At some point in time, after the umpteenth update that said very little more than the previous ones, Sam had enough of twiddling her thumbs in her office, and decided that paying the two scientist a visit wouldn’t do anyone any harm. They were, after all, on a time constraint.
She made her way through the hallways, expedition members regularly halting her requesting an update on how they were doing. She could say very little but promised to send out messages if anything were to change drastically, for better or worse. The moment she turned the last corner, she realized that coming to the lab hadn’t been such a bad idea after all as she heard both Radek and Rodney sounding on the verge of a full-fledged argument. Their voices sounded agitated and she hurried inside the lab.
“What did you do?” Radek said in his high-pitched voice.
“What did I do?” Rodney replied indignant. “What did you do?”
She was right to assume they were practically at each other’s throats, standing opposite one another, jabbing their respective index fingers in each other’s shoulders.
“Gentlemen!” Sam called out to them. It had the desired effect: both turned, suddenly looking all innocent. “What’s going on here?” She tilted her head a little, putting a sweet little smile on her lips at the same time.
“Nothing.” Rodney shook his head. “We were just...” He glanced at Radek, who didn’t need any more hints to save the two of them from whatever Carter could come up to berate them with.
Radek pushed his glasses back up his nose and continued. “We were just testing something, when the newly acquired crystal died on us.”
“What?” Sam’s smile vanished like snow in the sun.
“B-b-but this one revived.” Rodney could barely contain himself. “It used the electrical current to switch from one crystal to the other.”
“For lack of a ... host.” Radek added, pushing his glasses, which had again slid down a little enough to be annoying to him, back up his nose. “It had no other choice but to go into the crystal. It’s contained within this field.”
“That’s good. Now how do we get it out of Kate before it kills her?” Sam glanced back and forth between the two friends.
“We... err...” Radek started. “We do not know.”
“Yet.” Rodney added without giving Sam a chance to respond. “We do not know... yet.”
“We reason with it.” The trio turned at the sound of Teyla’s voice. Sam was pleased to see her with banto’s in hand, dressed in one of her sparring outfits. “We allow it to go back home, unharmed.”
“Why would it want to do that?” Rodney asked in disbelief. “Would you leave a restaurant that’s serving your favorite food for free?” His eyebrows shot up as he looked straight at Teyla, not leaving much room for any sort of reply.
“Because every living thing values its freedom.” Ronon appeared behind the Athosian, making Rodney cringe under his stare. He was rubbing his arm where Sam noticed a large bruise forming while there was a little bit of blood on his lip. She winced at the sight of it, happy that it was Ronon who had taken Teyla out for some relaxation time and not one of their own people for she was sure they would have been in the infirmary by now, getting patched up again.
“And there’s no harm in trying.” Teyla turned to see John standing in the doorway, his arms folded in front of him.
“But how will we communicate with it?” Radek pulled his shoulders up, clueless about what exactly it was they had to do to get the being back into its crystal and through the gate to its home-world.
Sam’s finger went up in the air as the proverbial light bulb flipped on above her head. “I have an idea.” The smile on her face returned, bright and wide, as she hurried out of the lab and through the hallways.
“What’s gotten into her?” Rodney said as they all looked at each other, before deciding that following the Colonel wouldn’t be such a bad idea if they wanted to find out what she was up to.
It wasn’t until an hour later that they found out what Sam’s brilliant idea was, after they received a rather large package from Earth, delivered with the kind regards of General O’Neill. She immediately ordered it to be set up in the isolation room so that they could start saving their resident psychologist from the crystal being. However, there were still some things that needed to be discussed and one of them was the part where the others didn’t have the first clue what Sam was on about.
“Is there a chance you will fill us in, any time between now and maybe when you activate that ... thing...” John glanced down into the isolation room, pointing at the device being set up there. “...About what your brilliant idea is exactly?”
“The only way to communicate with this being is to enter Kate’s dream. Until now we had no way of doing that, but with that...” Sam smiled as a scientist down below stuck his thumb up at her, signaling the device was active and ready for use. “With that we have a chance to reason with the entity and to save Kate’s life.”
“How?” Ronon asked out loud what the rest was thinking, even if some of them would never admit to it.
Sam’s eyes sparkled, happy to let the scientist within her come out to play. “We first encountered the technology ten years ago on a planet where the survivors of a holocaust were living entirely in a virtual world created in their minds. Since then, we've managed to modify it for use in the V.R. training of SG team members. It only took some minor calibrations to tune it in to subconscious activity.” She nodded satisfied.
“Only...” Rodney huffed, rolling his eyes in the process.
Sam ignored him and continued her explanation. “However, the technology, is as of yet, untested for use in this manner. Dreams are much more random than conscious thought. It may be difficult for the system to translate what's going on in Kate's brain so that anyone can understand it.”
“I will go.” Teyla stepped up to Sam. John was a pace behind her, but not with the intention of stopping her.
“Are you sure?” Sam asked. “This isn’t like calling Kate over the radio to tell her you’ll be a little late for dinner.” Teyla blushed as she realized what the Colonel had just hinted at. “The entity is going to know that you‘re an intruder. We have no idea what it will do to you, or Kate, in order to defend itself.”
“Because Heightmeyer’s the ultimate buffet of fear.” Rodney added helpfully.
Ronon glared at Rodney and almost hit him over the head, but when Teyla shook her head, he took it as a sign that he would be yet again bruised after their next sparring session if he actually did hit Rodney.
“I am sure.” Teyla nodded.
“In that case, let’s get you ready.” Sam signaled to Jennifer down below that Teyla was going to be the one to communicate with the entity and assist Kate in her dream. When she looked back at the Athosian, ready to return to the isolation room, she put as much confidence in her voice and facial expression as she could muster. “Good luck!”
“Thank you.” Teyla nodded, glanced at her friends and then disappeared down the stairs.
~ fade out ~
Kate woke up startled, clutching her chest involuntarily. Her heart was beating a million miles an hour and she felt like something or someone was suffocating her. She coughed to get the tight feeling away. She must have dozed off again after she had woken up earlier. As she tried to get to her feet she lost her balance and almost rolled out of the sofa. Max looked up at her from his spot underneath the coffee table. He got up from where he was lying and nudged his wet nose against her hand, seeking her attention. She responded with a pat on his head as she stumbled from the couch towards the kitchen. She found a bottle of water left on the table and took a long drink. The feeling of the cool water eased the tightness in her throat. When she turned around to go back into the living room, she noticed the door to Alex’s study was ajar. Before she could stop herself she was already halfway across the kitchen and on her way to the door to the study. Kate halted, took a deep breath and then entered the room, which had been left just the way it was since both she and Alex had gone out earlier, except that her best friend had taken her drawings with her. She slowly walked across to the table and found several unfinished sketches scattered across its surface. She glanced at them curiously, finding yet again that she recognized almost all of the places in them as somewhere familiar.
“You know, I promised John that I wouldn’t let anyone else look at those sketches before they are ready for print.” Kate jumped at the sound of Alex’s voice and swirled around, almost losing her balance in the process. Alex was leaning against the doorframe. “If he finds out that my best friend has been going through them like she owns them, he might consider using another artist. And I kind of need the money.” Alex nodded. “Cause otherwise I will never be able to get my Emily the engagement ring she wants.”
“I’m sorry.” Kate quickly apologized, putting the sketches she was holding back onto the table. “I didn’t mean to...” She gestured a little a lost.
“I know.” Alex said as she made her way in and cleaned her drawing table, taking the sketches and put them away in a cabinet nearby. “Just don’t tell John.” She winked as she walked back out of the room. “We’re having spaghetti later, and Emily rented The Matrix trilogy so we’re watching movies tonight.”
Kate followed Alex into the kitchen where they found Max staring at his bowl. “I don’t think I’m in the mood to watch with you tonight.”
“Oh come on, Mr. Anderson will make you forget about your bad dreams.” The younger woman winked. “Besides, you have no choice but to watch. Emily will kill you if you don’t. She wants you to relax and have fun. And you know how she is when she gets moody. There’s no living with her then.”
“You’re talking about the woman you want to ask to marry you.” Kate stated matter-of-factly, her lips curving up into an amused smile.
“I know.” Alex said, feigning utter shock. “What was I thinking?” She giggled and much to her surprise Kate joined in the laughter. “It’s good to see you smile again.”
“It feels good too.” Kate admitted. “Though just baby steps.”
“Oh, no issues with that.” Alex smiled. “None at all.” She turned to the counter and picked up a can of dog food Emily had left there earlier in the day. There was still some food left in it; Alex dropped it in Max’s bowl and the dog dug in like a starved wolf.
“Where’s Emily now?” Kate rounded the table and sat down on one of the chairs.
“She went out to Jim’s. Apparently we need food.” Alex winked.
“Well, I did ruin your peas.” Kate shrugged.
“That you did.” The younger woman nodded in agreement. “Hey, want a cup of tea while we wait for my honey to come home again?”
“Sure. And maybe we should clean up a bit, cause I may have made a mess in the living room.” Kate bit her lower lip.
“Okay.” Alex nodded as she started preparing water for the kettle.
~ fade out ~
Teyla lay down on a second bed that had been brought in at the same time as the device. Around her activity was buzzing and everything was ready. She had been hooked up to one side of the device Sam had requested from Earth, while Kate had been hooked up on the other side. Teyla lay there, watching her best friend’s still face, briefly wondering what was going on in Kate’s mind and where she would be jumping into. She hoped she wasn’t about to set foot in unspeakable hell, but she couldn’t start having doubts now they were about to begin.
“Ready?” Teyla blinked as Radek stepped into view. “I will be monitoring the crystal behind you.” He said. She glanced at it and nodded. “It’s okay to be nervous.”
“I’m going to inject a mild sedative which will make you drowsy. Don’t try to resist it, okay.” Jennifer planted the needle in the IV-line Marie had prepped earlier. “The effect should be immediate.”
“Okay.” Teyla half-nodded, taking a deep breath, trying her very best to keep her cool. She closed her eyes, waiting for the sedative to kick in and for her to wake up again in Kate’s dream world.
When next she woke Teyla was no longer in Atlantis, but in the middle of a street that looked like it was somewhere on Earth. There was a park behind her and a large apartment building in front of her. Streetlights were on and, as far as she could see, no one was around. She glanced up and down the road she was on, trying to determine where she would find her best friend, and where the being which she knew would be lurking around could be.
She noticed the door to the building opening, and a young woman holding two boxes appeared in the doorway. Behind her came two older ladies who directed her towards another stair, going down into the building’s basement.
“Is that all, Mrs. Greenberg?” The younger woman reappeared, empty handed. “Kate and Emily are waiting for me to return, you see.”
“That will be all.” The woman spoken to nodded. “Thank you for your help.”
“Yes, thank you.” The other woman smiled.
“Not a problem. Have a good evening, Mrs. Greenberg. Mrs. Rosenberg.” The young woman winked as she disappeared through the doors and out of sight.
Teyla waited for the two elderly ladies to disappear as well, and then made her way towards the building. She found the door unlocked and entered the hallway. There were rows of little boxes – for letters, she realized – and she took a quick look to see if she could find a familiar name. As she let her finger glide over the name-tags she found Kate’s twice, once in combination with an A. Gilmore and once in combination with an A. Jackson and E. Myles. In the first, however, someone had scratched out her name. Using the same pen, whoever it was had obviously added Kate’s name to their tag. Teyla didn’t think about it for too long but continued down the hallway towards the elevator.
When she reached the top floor, she started to feel nervous about what she was about to find behind the doors that opened off in the darkened hallway. She was a little surprised that she had been able to just walk around without interference from the crystal being. However, she was too cautious to think that it wouldn’t make an appearance any time now. She could feel she was getting closer to her goal. She checked the numbers on the doors and found 4C to be at the very end of the hallway. It took quite a few knocks before someone answered the door and it wasn’t Kate.
“Evening.” It was the same woman Teyla had seen earlier carrying the boxes for the two older ladies.
“Evening.” She replied, smiling, trying to see beyond the other woman.
“Can I help you?”
“I am looking for Kate.” Teyla stepped forward but the other woman blocked her way.
“We’re watching a movie, but please, do come in.” The younger woman stepped aside and waved her in, which Teyla took as her cue to walk inside the narrow hallway and noticed it lead to a living room at the end that was about the size of Kate’s quarters. Teyla was relieved to see Kate and no sign of an unspeakable hell Rodney was sure she was going to walk into. “We’d better not disturb them. It’s The Matrix, Emily’s favorite film.” The title of the film brought a fond memory back to Teyla as she remembered a time when John had asked her to join him and Ronon in watching The Matrix. At the time she had respectfully declined and had joined Kate and Laura instead to watch The 101 Dalmatians, which they had explained was an animated film. It wasn’t until afterwards they had congratulated her on watching her first of what they hoped would be many Disney films. “I’m Alex by the way.” Teyla accepted the hand in greeting.
“I know.” Alex smiled.
“How...” Teyla started but was cut off as the environment in which they stood suddenly changed to that of the balcony adjoining the Atlantis control area. “What...”
“Oh shit...” Alex was still standing by Teyla’s side. She turned to her, holding her hands up in defense. “I’m not the crystal being, I swear.”
“How can I be sure you haven’t changed your appearance to deceive me?” Teyla stepped away from Alex, creating some distance between herself and the other woman.
“You have to believe me, I’m not the crystal being.” Alex shook her head, almost desperate.
“I believe you.” Teyla’s eyes turned wide as she glanced past Alex, who turned around curiously at what she was looking at. “But he is.”
From out of the dark, John appeared in the doorway about to step onto the balcony. His lips were curled up in a devious grin, one which didn’t leave much room for interpretation. Alex frowned confused. “John?” She called out to him in disbelieve. “No, that can’t be. You’re a comic book writer. A figment of her imagination. No!” Alex shook her head.
“Teyla?” The two women turned back to the railing where Kate was balanced, wobbling back and forth, holding on for dear life. “I don’t want to die.”
“Kate, hold on!” Alex yelled at her as she positioned herself between Teyla and John. “Go help her!”
Teyla nodded and moved towards Kate, hurrying up because she knew that if Kate let go and fell off the railing it could very well be the last time she would see her best friend alive. She had almost reached Kate when someone tall and dark materialized in front of her, keeping her from reaching her goal.
“Not. So. Fast.” His voice was threatening and all too familiar.
“What the hell?” Alex exclaimed surprised as John had zipped to the other side of her, now in between Teyla and Kate.
“Alex!” Teyla desperately called out.
“Oh no, you don’t!” There was what resembled a war cry and next thing Teyla knew she was scrambling back to her feet, watching how Alex had thrown herself onto the manifestation of the crystal being.
Teyla whirled around just in time to see Kate lose her balance. She gasped in shock and jumped forward, grabbing anything she could get a hold of, which turned out to be Kate’s hand.
“Please, don’t let go.” Kate implored.
Teyla felt Kate slip from her grip, as she tried to grab her arm with her free hand.
“Stop moving!” she yelled out to Kate. “I can’t...” She tried to pull but it just wasn’t working. Teyla tried to look back but couldn’t tell what was happening behind her, until Alex materialized right next to her, leaning over far enough to grab Kate’s free hand. Together they pulled her up and over the railing.
“Stay here!” Alex, however, didn’t get the time to check whether Kate was alright when the being pulled her away and continued battling her. They crashed through the large window, Teyla automatically covering Kate from flying glass and debris. They fell down on the other side, sliding towards the stairs where John picked up Alex who looked to be halfway between conscious and unconscious and threw her down the flight of stairs, where she remained motionless.
Teyla winced at the sight. “Alex!” She called out but the younger woman didn’t respond.
“We need to help.” Kate pulled away from Teyla. “I need to help her.”
Kate started moving towards the now broken window and stepped inside the control area. Teyla followed her in. They both glanced around but didn’t see the crystal being anywhere. Kate didn’t waste any time and ran down the stairs, straight for Alex. However, before she could reach her friend John rematerialized in front of her and threw her to the side like a ragdoll. She hit the wall hard, everything going black for a moment. When she came to again, Teyla was holding her own against the evil incarnation of John in front of the gate, giving her the opportunity to tend to Alex who was still lying at the bottom of the staircase.
“Alex...” Kate quickly made her way over to the younger woman, turning her over and cradling her in her arms. Blood trickled down from her mouth. “Alex...” She called out again, eyes fluttering open in reply.
“Ka-ate...” Her voice was strained, and when she coughed more blood appeared on her lips. Alex searched for Kate’s hand and found it, holding onto it for dear life. “You need... need to...” Kate could tell talking hurt. Alex used her free hand to point at the fighting pair. “...Need to get him...” More blood as she coughed again, squeezing her eyes shut, whimpering at the obvious pain she was in. “…through the gate.”
“I can’t.” Kate shook her head.
“Yes ... you can.” Alex whispered. “You are ... stronger than him.”
“You will never win!” Kate looked up as the evil Sheppard twin had kicked Teyla into submission and stood square in front of the gate, a smug smile in place. “You. Will. Never. Win.” He took a step towards her. “You are weak.” Teyla cried out as she pulled herself to her feet, pulling from whatever strength she had still left. She obviously struggled to keep going but managed to push the evil John closer to the gate before she collapsed.
“You’ve lost!” Kate yelled at the entity, which looked quite surprised at its victim’s sudden resistance. “Get out of here!” It felt good, yelling at the being. The louder she yelled, the stronger she felt, and the more power Kate gained over the crystal entity. Using her full body weight she crashed into him, pushing him backwards. The evil John stumbled in sheer surprise; by the time he fully realized what was happening it was too late and he disappeared through the gate which shut down behind him. Kate sank down to the floor, crying out to the ceiling, every bit of frustration leaving her body until she could scream no more and tears were all that remained. Teyla dragged herself over to her friend, pulling her into a hug but Kate pulled away, turning back to Alex whom she had left behind near the stairs.
“You won...” Alex whispered, her eyes wide and fixed on the ceiling, unfocused. Kate held her in her arms, offering as much comfort as she could muster in that moment. “Wake up ... now.” Alex grabbed Kate’s shirt in a white-knuckled grip. “Wake … UP!”
“But...” She took hold of the hand, gripping her shirt.
“…Fine... I’ll be fine.” Alex nodded reassuringly, coughing up more blood. “Promise.”
“Kate, you need to listen to Alex and wake up.” Teyla sat down at her side. Kate nodded, reluctantly, glancing down at Alex who smiled before closing her eyes and going limp in her arms. “Kate!” Teyla insisted. “Please, wake up!”
~ fade out ~
Jennifer was glancing back and forth between the two monitors, worried about the fluctuations that were clearly visible. Something was definitely happening inside the dream that had both her patients thinking they were in some sort of danger. Their heart rates were going through the roof; if they kept this up she’d soon have to use the crash cart she’d made sure was already in the room.
“If they keep this up, there could be physical damage to deal with.” Jennifer said to no one in particular.
“Doctor.” Marie called out to her from Teyla’s side as she noticed her stirring. “I think she’s waking up.”
“They both are.” One of the other nurses stated as there was another change on the monitors.
“Kate!” Teyla flew upright as she gasped awake. Marie held her down and tried to keep her from rushing over to the psychologist’s side. “Jennifer?” She desperately looked at the doctor, who had moved to Kate’s side, monitoring her progress.
“Hey there...” Jennifer smiled as green eyes fluttered open, glancing up at her with a confused look. “Welcome back.” She squeezed Kate’s hand reassuringly.
“Is she okay?” Teyla stretched as far as she could go without pulling on her IV-line too much.
Jennifer looked over the monitors and nodded. “She’s fine. Physically she looks to be okay.”
There were tears in Teyla’s eyes but she managed to hold them back just long enough to murmur, “Thank you.”
Sam watched the people below, relieved that Kate and Teyla were awake and looked to be okay. There were audible sighs of relief around her as Ronon slapped Rodney’s shoulder, much to John’s amusement, happy about Teyla’s success to save Kate. Sam saw Jennifer glancing up, indicating she was on her way up to fill them in on the details. When the doctor entered, Sam immediately asked her about how Teyla and Kate were doing, noticing that Jennifer looked like she could use a good night’s sleep. They all could for that matter.
“They’re both fine.” Jennifer smiled satisfied. “Tired but alive. And the entity is back where it belongs.” Her gaze involuntarily drifted to the container holding the bright glowing crystal.
“Kate?” Rodney carefully inquired as he glanced down at his friend and colleague.
“As far as her vitals go, they’re stable.” Jennifer replied. “Physically she’ll be fine, but...”
“Mentally is a whole other deal, I imagine.” Sam finished for her.
“Yes, I’m afraid so. We’ll need a new psychologist for the time being. She won’t be fit for duty any time soon.” Jennifer shook her head a little. “It’s possible she may be suffering from a lighter form of post-traumatic stress disorder, but we won’t know for sure until she regains full consciousness.”
“I assume you will keep her under surveillance for the next few hours.”
“Yes, for now we’ll keep her in here. And later move her back to the infirmary.”
“Thanks.” Sam smiled.
“I’ll be around here or in the infirmary if you need me.” Jennifer excused herself as she disappeared to remove the hazmat-suit she had been wearing all this time.
Sam turned to the men still standing by her side. “I suggest you guys suit up and take the crystals back to their planet. The sooner they’re off Atlantis, the better we’ll sleep.”
“No kidding.” Rodney wholeheartedly agreed.
“Colonel!” Sam called out to John as he prepared to follow Ronon and Rodney. He turned around reluctantly, even though Sam suspected he had been lingering a little. “I think you should know that there was nothing you could have done to prevent any of this from happening. We all missed the signs.”
“Yeah... I know.” He said, though he didn’t sound one bit convinced.
“Have a safe trip!” Sam let it slide and waited for him to disappear around the corner before she turned and glanced back down into the isolation room. Teyla had been relieved of her IV-line and had repositioned herself at her best friend’s side. Sam sighed and decided to check how the Athosian was doing and coping.
As she came up behind Teyla, she noticed she was holding Kate’s hand in her own, drawing tiny circles with her thumb. “Hey.” She said softly, gently dropping her hand down on the other woman’s shoulder.
“Colonel.” Teyla acknowledged her presence.
“How is she?” Sam smiled, finding the look on Kate’s face to be more peaceful than before.
“Marie said she is asleep, and will probably not wake for several more hours.” Teyla kept her gaze on the woman in the bed.
“You’d think she would have slept enough by now.” Sam was pleased to see the hint of a smile appear.
“I am not going anywhere.” Teyla shook her head. “I want to be here when she wakes up.”
“I wasn’t going to say anything to the contrary. In fact, I was going to say that if you need anything you just give me a call and I’ll see how I can help you.”
“Oh...” Teyla blushed.
“Keep me in the loop.” It was between a question and an order Sam realized too late, but Teyla didn’t seem to notice and nodded.
“Good night.” Sam said as she started to leave.
“Good night.” Teyla answered. “And thank you.” Sam nodded and then left to attend to her duties before going off for what would be a well deserved, well earned good night’s sleep.
~ fade out ~
It had been a few weeks since the incident but it felt to Kate like she had only just woken up from it. She had trouble sleeping and it started to show, even though she did her very best to hide it. As a psychologist, she knew all the tricks and more. They had called in a colleague from Earth, but he hadn’t been very successful at talking to her, or she to him. Kate kept to herself, something that she knew would bite her in the ass sooner rather than later, and she quickly realized that she kept pushing everyone away who tried to help her. Teyla tried so hard but Kate just couldn’t stand the company of many people all at once. It suffocated her.
Colonel Carter had suggested she take some time off and return to Earth to be with family and friends, but Kate had refused. She had locked herself in her quarters for days on end, scared that Sam would have her escorted out of Atlantis by force if she dared to come out. Atlantis had a soothing and comforting way about it that meant Kate didn’t want to go anywhere else. She just wanted to stay. It wasn’t like she was in anyone’s way; she pretty much kept to herself.
Trying to stay away from people altogether, however, was a much harder task to accomplish. They always seemed to find her or know where she was at any given second of the day. It had gotten to the point where Kate had asked them whether they had a tracker inserted, to which Rodney had nodded, much to Carter’s annoyance. They had reassured her immediately that the only tracker inside her was the usual tracking device designed to allow them to be beamed out if necessary.
Life had certainly not become any easier. More interesting maybe, but certainly not easier. Kate had wished on more than one occasion that she could talk to Elizabeth, who had been through a similar experience. She would know how she felt, how she really felt. The diplomat would be able to really understand her, not pretend to. And she felt alone, terrifyingly alone. At least in the dream she had the company of Alex and Emily, even if they were just figments of her imagination or results of mixed-up memories. Sometimes she wished she could go back to that safe environment, even if it would mean having the same nightmare over and over again.
Every day had become a struggle and it took all she had to get through it. One of those struggles she faced on a daily basis, and that faced her right now, was getting through the door of her quarters.
Kate took a deep breath as she stood in front of the door, about ready to leave for breakfast. She rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, her hand halfway up to the crystal lock on the wall. She started debating and knew she’d be standing there for a while longer while she made up her mind. As she decided to wait a little longer, so as not to meet too many people, the door opened up in her face and she was met with a radiant smile on the other side. She gasped in shock and involuntarily stepped back a little.
“I am sorry.” Teyla apologized. “Did I scare you?”
Kate shook her head. “Just startled.” She managed to say as she recovered from her surprise.
“I was on my way to breakfast and I was wondering if you would like to join me?”
Kate’s mind was screaming no, but her head nodded anyway. “I would like to.” Kate noticed how Teyla’s eyes lit up at the positive answer and she forced a small smile on her lips. “I was just...” She vaguely pointed in the direction of the cafeteria.
“Laurence made pancakes.” Teyla said as they started walking. “He made them especially for you, I heard.”
Kate didn’t know how to respond to that so she just remained silent, walking side by side with Teyla. She dared to glance at her companion and noticed the smile was still firmly in place. In that moment she realized it was enough to have the other woman by her side, doing something together. There were no questions about how she was doing or if she had slept well. There was just a friend by her side who was more than happy to just be around her, without any unnecessary fuss. It made Kate’s smile grow in size, and she saw the people they passed in the hallways responding to it with smiles of their own.
Teyla started talking again as they exited the transporter nearest to the west entrance to the cafeteria. “Colonel Sheppard has given everybody a day off and I...” She trailed off as she realized Kate was not really listening to her but looking at something or someone at the other end of the hallway. “Kate?” She tried, but Kate was too distracted to respond.
And then Kate started walking, faster and faster until she was running through the hallways, trying to catch up with what she’d seen in the distance.
Kate had been stunned to see her at the end of the hallway. In the back of her mind alarm bells had started ringing and she had started walking, faster and faster until she was running, trying to catch up. She rounded several corners until she ended up on a small balcony sitting between two tall buildings. The weather outside was beautiful with a crystal-clear sky and the sun slowly starting its track across the horizon, leaving the two moons to fade in its light. The doors behind her closed and she briefly turned at the sound of it. When she turned back, she found the one she had been following by the railing, looking out over the sea. The woman was cloaked in a white glow. Kate frowned, wondering how that was possible – unless the entity had deceived her and she was still asleep.
“You are awake.”
Kate’s eyes turned wide as her unspoken question was answered.
“A-Alex?” She hesitantly started.
“Yes.” The glow disappeared and in front of her stood the blue-eyed younger woman she remembered from the dream, wearing a casual blue shirt over some jeans. “It’s me.”
“What...? How...?” Kate dared to step closer until she was facing Alex, who was smiling back at her.
“Yes, I’m really here.” Alex nodded as Kate stretched her hand out to touch her, checking that the person standing before her wasn’t just another figment of her imagination or that she was finally losing what was left of her mind.
“I saw you die.” Kate was utterly confused and didn’t know what to think.
“Yeah... That.” Alex tilted her head a little, her brown hair falling across her face for a few seconds until she pushed it back behind her ears. “Don’t make me do that again.”
“Who are you?”
“Ah, finally.” Alex grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.” She stepped closer to Kate and placed her hands on her shoulder. Kate tensed at the contact. “Relax, I’m not going to hurt you.” She bowed her head and Kate followed her lead as she touched her forehead with Alex’s. “Close your eyes.” Kate did as she was told, and suddenly felt remarkably safe. “This is better. Much better. You can open your eyes now.”
Kate did as she was told and when she opened her eyes, she found herself in a rather familiar place. She stepped back, almost bumping into Max who lay behind her. She turned around, panic setting in.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Alex forced Kate to look at her. “It’s okay. Take deep breaths.” Kate took a few deep breaths, letting them out slowly, calming down significantly. “That’s better. Now we can talk.” Her companion flopped down in the sofa and patted the space next to her, indicating the psychologist should sit down by her side.
“Why here?” Kate looked around and saw the apartment looked exactly the same as when she was dreaming.
“It’s something I’ve pulled from your memories.” Alex shrugged.
“My memories?” Kate turned back, frowning.
Alex hesitated as she was clearly debating how she was going to proceed next. “Well, before you were taken over by the crystal entity I may have been probing your mind...” Alex bit her lip. “Just a little.” She added as an afterthought, indicating with space between two fingers how much of a little she meant. “But then the entity took control of you and I got stuck in there with you.”
“You... You what?” Kate shifted a little uneasy.
“You should thank me by the way. I kept the being from finding a lot of things inside your head it could have used against you. You truly are a fascinating individual, Kate. Your potential is outstanding. You...”
“You invaded my privacy.” Kate stood up from where she was sitting in the sofa, jabbing her finger in Alex’ direction. “You are no different than the entity.”
“If I hadn’t kept your subconscious locked, you wouldn’t have been in this apartment to begin with. You would have suffered far worse than the nightmare it gave you. If I hadn’t kept it from finding all the things you know as a psychologist, you would not be alive right now.” Alex rose and stood square in front of Kate, a full head taller. “You would have died in your dream, and your friends wouldn’t have been able to do anything to prevent that. Teyla would have had to stand by helpless.”
“You invaded my mind. You studied my mind. You...” Kate glared and jabbed, until the other woman captured her lips in a kiss, effectively shutting her up.
When they parted Alex’s eyes were wide with excitement. “Wow! You’re an absolutely fabulous kisser. Not that I should be surprised, since Emily was ... well, for a figment of your imagination she was spectacular. You kiss Teyla like that and she’s never going to want anyone else.” She whistled in amazement, which resulted in another glare from Kate, and a well-placed slap on her cheek. “Ouch!” Alex rubbed her cheek, testing her jaw after impact. “What was that for?” She exclaimed exasperated.
“Your inappropriate behavior.”
“What inappropriate behavior?”
“You probed my mind.” Kate brought her hands up in desperation as she watched Alex’ cheek go from pink to red, the outline of her hand clearly visible. “What else were you expecting? A thank you?”
“I did save your life.” Alex retorted.
“Did you really?”
Alex pulled something from behind her back and dropped it on the table. It turned out to be a comic. It fell open in the middle. “If I hadn’t done everything I could to keep your mind safe from our comic book writer, than this would have been your reality right now.”
Kate picked the comic up from the table and stared at the images. She recognized herself, lying in her bed in her quarters. The blankets pulled back a little, Teyla and Jennifer standing by her side.
“She’s dead.” Kate murmured as she read the words, written on the page. “She’s dead.”
“Now, you belief me?” Alex took the comic from her, closed it and dropped it back on the table. The cover held an image of two John Sheppard’s fighting in front of the gate. “If it hadn’t been for me, you would have been dead.” The moment Alex uttered those words she felt sorry and sighed. “I’m sorry.” She sat down again, looking up at Kate who shook her head in disbelief. “I’m sorry. I really am. I shouldn’t have...”
Kate glanced up at Alex, taking a deep breath. “So am I.” She sighed, hanging her head a little. “So am I.” She whispered to no one in particular.
“So...” Alex started again. “...How are you and Teyla doing?” Alex switched subjects, leaving the nightmare for what it was. She knew there were other people out there to help Kate with that. There was no need for her to do all the work.
Kate sighed, realizing the other woman wasn’t going to give up any time soon and sat back down. “We’re okay.”
“Wow, that was very convincing.” Alex rolled her eyes.
“What do you know?” Kate snapped back. “You are a figment of my imagination. You’re not real.”
“That’s where you are wrong.” The other woman tilted her head a little. “I am real, Kate. In fact, I am so real that your friends are wondering what the hell is happening right about now.”
Kate gasped as she found herself back on the balcony, standing across from Alex who was smiling back at her, once more surrounded by a white glow. She stumbled back a few paces, until she felt someone behind her, which turned out to be Teyla who stopped her mid-step and prevented her from falling.
“What the hell is going on here?” Kate frowned confused as she watched Alex, glowing like a bright beacon. “Who are you?”
“I was just about to ask you the same question so what about it?” The trio turned at the sound of Carter’s voice. “Explain yourself!”
Alex kept smiling. “You don’t need to fear me, I’m a friend.”
“You’re an Ancient.” Rodney popped up from behind Ronon’s back, as the men came running through the open door.
Alex rolled her eyes once more. “What gave it away? My glowy ass?”
Rodney’s mouth opened and closed but no sound was produced.
“You’re an Ancient?” Kate had managed to overcome her first surprise and closed the distance between herself and the person she had considered a close friend in her dream world.
Alex jabbed her thumb in her own direction. “Still glowing.”
“What about the no interference rule?” Kate frowned.
“Ha... Not bound by it.” Alex grinned.
“What do you mean?” Teyla had stepped up and positioned herself at Kate’s side.
“I’m a special case, and it’s a long story too. But ... short version: this is my city. My city, my rules.”
“Does that mean that you could help me find...” Rodney started again, sidestepping Sam and John.
“No.” Alex said before he could finish his question. He attempted another try but the answer was still no. “No. No. No.” She shook her head. “And no way. Besides what’s the point of being an explorer if you already know all the answers.”
“Yes Rodney, what would be the point?” John smirked as his friend admitted defeat.
“Now, how about we leave these two great ladies to sort out their feelings, while we go and have a nice long chat about how touching crystals on this particular planet is not a good idea, and why my people locked it out for a reason.” Alex herded the others off the balcony. She turned at the door and smiled. Kate and Teyla standing side by side smiling back at her. “Thank you.”
The moment they were alone, Kate turned to Teyla at the same time as Teyla turned to her, meeting her gaze.
The both of them chuckled but before they could give up their chance to let the other go first, Alex’ head appeared through the doors again. She stared intently at Kate.
“Tell Teyla how you feel about her. She’s been through a rough time as well, and she’ll appreciate it if you would talk about it with her. I know you don’t want her to feel sorry for you, but she honestly won’t. She wants to help you deal. Let her.”
Kate blinked confused at the sound of the Ancient’s voice in her head.
“And on the off chance that you get cold feet... I know where to find you.” There was a wink and then she was gone.
Kate turned back to Teyla, glancing past her to the ocean. She frowned, shaking her head a little as she tried to figure out what just happened.
“What was that?” Teyla inquired as she curiously glanced at Kate.
“Nothing.” Kate smiled, wandering over to the railing and leaning against it. She let the sea calm her mind and soul before she turned back to Teyla and apologized. “I’m sorry.”
“What for?” Teyla joined her at the railing and placed her hand over Kate’s. Kate shivered under the touch, trying her very best to ignore the rush that came with it. She didn’t want Teyla to feel uncomfortable.
“For...” Kate started, but stopped and stared out at the ocean.
“Kate.” Kate slowly turned back from gazing out at the horizon, Teyla’s hands forcing her to meet her gaze. She had come closer and was mere inches away from her. Kate could feel the heat of her body at such close proximity. “I am happy for you to be alive. I do not know what I would have done if the entity had taken you away from me.” She took a deep breath. “I am happy to be standing here, side by side with you, and I...” Teyla searched for the right words but couldn’t find any that could convey her feelings in that moment. She reached across the distance between herself and Kate. They were standing only a few inches apart, yet it felt like a galaxy. The psychologist didn’t pull back when Teyla’s lips met hers. The kiss was soft and short, but it got the message across nonetheless. “I am here for you, if you need me.”
“Thank you.” Kate whispered as she willingly let Teyla pull her into a hug, resting her head on the other woman’s shoulder. “Thank you.”