Spoilers: Up to Season 2 “Critical Mass” vaguely.
Summary: This is why he comes back, Atlantis is the place she haunts. Kavanagh/BYOS.
A/N: Betaread by fififolle and Fanwoman.
He dreams of her by a river on a sunny day, a scene that could be from any world. Her head is stooped low over the waters, as she kneels on the bank. Her hair is slung over her shoulder haphazardly, much longer than it ever was in reality, making her seem like a nymph in the setting – her hands skimming the water, tracing a pattern he can't read upon the surface, but never truly breaking it. He can't recall what she wears exactly, certainly not her uniform or anything else he might have seen her in. He knows this isn't her; she's just his fantasy – but every bit as unreachable.
The dragonflies flit about all around her. Although they don't bother her, he finds he can never get close enough. Their frenzy increases with each attempt, and soon all he can remember of it all is her serene presence, as if seen through the blue wings, almost like a stained glass window. Then it shatters - he wakes up and turns to look out his own blue window, wishing it could show him the same view, wishing dearly that she was still here to glimpse. But she won't ever be; he missed his chance. He can't even claim she was stolen away by someone else. He barely knew her, and that's his fault. But he can never bring himself to leave Atlantis properly, despite the bad memories, because he only sees her when he sleeps here. He thinks he should call them nightmares - they certainly aren't happy - but it's all he'll ever have. There are no fond memories of her, not ones they'd both share, and she's no longer around to make new ones with. So he takes what he's got, odd dreams of a dead woman he never really knew as much as he'd wanted to.
She'd once commented idly to him, for no apparent reason at all, that she loved being by the water – not the oceans but the inland kind. He'd actually replied to that, though without much emotion because he feared she'd get the wrong idea. Ironically, looking back, that would have been preferable. At least his words had lacked the usual tinge of annoyance he was prone to, but it was just as casual a reply to her own admittance, a passing mention of how he'd heard there was a decent sized river by the new Athosian camp and he expected he'd be going to survey the area soon enough. The subtle invitation had been there, but neither of them had said any more on the matter. His trip had passed without note. He'd never brought it up with her again, but perhaps that's why he pictures her there every night.
He hasn't got any friends here, but he does have his fantasy, and memories that have to stretch further than any might guess. No one knows he even cares, let alone this much - enough to stay in a place where he's hated for the sake of someone who never loved him, not as far as he knew. Maybe it's that part of him wants to believe she simply never said what she thought of him, that both of them had held back on their feelings and that those moments he felt, she felt, too. Some would say that's irrelevant now, because he can never know and what's the use in hoping upon something for which the truth will never come home? But he doesn't want to let go yet.
When he does, he knows exactly what to do - shatter the delicate blue glass panel and let his hand bleed, embracing the pain, letting it replace the hurt he feels now. That way, it will be made into a physical pain, a wound that can be healed. And then he will finally leave this place. “Just, not yet,” he thinks, “A little longer is all I need,” or so he'd like to believe.
If he leaves it too long, he'll be too weak to break the spell and the wound will never heal, the memory never be able to fade. Instead, it will become imprinted onto him just like his habit of looking out his window each time he wakes, in the faint hope he wasn't simply dreaming. The test will be whether he has the courage to quit the cycle of everlasting hope he feels, hope that blends into regret and ultimately misery. He needs to stop it here in the real world, just as his mind always does with the abrupt end of each night’s vision.
Then again, maybe he just doesn't want to admit that he never wants to leave this, to leave himself alone and without attachment, however tenuous it is. He wants to be with her, in whatever way he can get, ignoring that he is setting the rules that keep him here. He lives in Atlantis because she still does. His inability to take away only memories and abandon the city is centred around the one thing he has control of, so really it's his mind’s doing. He needs a reason to stay, and this way he has one, as crippling as it is – it binds him to this place, as if it is his splint.
The view from his room is spectacular but, as always, not what he hopes for. He continues on, broken, whilst today the window remains intact.
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