Spoilers: All through Season 1 - with future chapters having spoilers
for Season 2 Runner
Summary: The prospect of going home seemed surreal, but it was
happening. She just shouldn't have expected it to be that easy. Sorafic.
A/N: Thanks to Fanwoman and Ellex for betareading this excellently.
A Long Journey
The gate disengages soon after she stumbles out of the ring. As it
turns out, her body can't handle walking very far at all. Her legs are
weak, muscles deteriorated from abuse and lack of use.
She tries to cough but can't. She wants to vomit, to purge her body of
what they put back into her at the last minute. She might have
absorbed some energy, but she wants to rid herself of as much as
possible. If she's lucky, she might succumb to death naturally –
dehydration isn't pleasant, but she wants it to be over. She bites at
the gag; she can't untie it, as they bound her hands loosely before
she left. This was their plan, that she'd be incapacitated by the
bonds long enough to digest all the food and then, when she worked her
way free, they probably hoped she would have a hunger, a thirst for
more. But she doesn't give up, and rips at it with her hands, her
jagged nails drawing blood from her lips as she does everything she
can to get it off.
The gag does come off eventually, soaked with her own blood, and the
taste of it in her mouth is enough to induce the gag reflex – leaving
her stomach satisfyingly empty and her body that much closer to death.
She crawls away from the gate after that, knees scraping over rough
ground, – the bag of meager supplies abandoned. Staying there would
mean she'd be easier to find, but she'd rather die away from the
stench of blood and vomit. She wants them to have to make an effort,
to prove she's still worth something when they come for the body in a
few days time. They might as well take their time, because they can
pretend all they like that they don't care, but she knows they do in
some twisted way – they care enough to hate her, to ensure she dies
the way they wish and to want proof she is dead.
Times passes slowly, and she has no clue how long she crawls until she
rests, unable to make it any further for now. In truth, she knows she
won't make it further at all, this is where she'll die. She might
manage a little farther, but she's already lost a considerable amount
of blood from her untended wounds, and her fragile body won't take
much more. She yields to the urge to sleep, wondering if she will wake up.
When she does, he's there, towering over her, grinning viciously,
disgusting teeth exposed. She doesn't know what to think, now death is
here, but her body betrays her, heart hammering as she panics despite
her wishes. She wants death, she wants peace, but this doesn't feel
like either, and the instinct rises, body preparing for fight or
flight when it can manage neither. The hand strikes down to her chest,
tearing away the garment, the other hand following, fingers ripping
into her flesh, razor sharp points digging in excruciatingly. This is
when she wants more time, when she realises she wants to live. It's
worse than she could ever have imagined, a strange sensation of
suffocation, but it's not deprivation of oxygen. The life is torn from
her cells, mercilessly extracted without contest, with relish. She
can feel the satisfaction of the Wraith feeding, its hunger being
sated as her strength wanes. Her mouth is open, but she can't find the
breath to start screaming. If she could, she wouldn't stop until it
was over. Death will end the agony, but now is when she suddenly feels
what she has, as days are taken from her with each second, showing her
just how much time she has left.
And then it stops. Through her blurred sight she sees a dark figure
standing over the Wraith. She's still crying even though the pain is
gone. She lifts her fingers to her face to find the skin still smooth,
and it dawns on her this stranger has saved her, if only for a time –
it's time enough that she isn't old yet, just older.
She blinks away the tears and sees the face of an Atlantean looking
back at her. He's different than she recalls. Ford. Sheppard's
Lieutenant, a member of their premiere team. He used to make jokes to
pass the time guarding her and sometimes included her in the chats,
careful not to say anything too specific. They had never trusted her
enough to talk of Earth or of Atlantis, but he hadn't treated her like
the enemy. It could have been because he never saw her as a threat. He
should have, but from the moment he had met her he had underestimated
her – she remembered how he'd second guessed her suitability for the
allied reconnaissance mission during which her father had died. She
had been incensed then, to be thought less than capable, but his
friendliness had been appreciated on Atlantis.
His right eye is blackened, the skin around it deformed somehow – she
has never seen such an injury. But it is Ford.
"Yes... - no!"
"Can't make up your mind, huh?"
He smiles, like her indecision makes him forget everything else – that
he is holding a piece of a Wraith in his hand, that she saw him
extract with his bare hands after he defeated it alone, and that she
is skin and bones, a person who let a Wraith take them with no fight
at all. They seem as different as when they first met as Genii and
Atlantean – but this time the fight is gone from her and his is
increased two fold, a strange sense of balance achieved in the result.
And then the amusement disappears, giving way to a darkness.
"Where are all your buddies then? Waiting to take me down? Thought
this would make a nice trap, right?"
His face screws up into a monster, and he pulls her to her feet
ignoring that she cannot stand on her own anymore.
"Did Sheppard send you? Or Weir? McKay? They're really stooping low
this time. You can tell them I'm not falling for it."
He drops her like a sack of rocks, and she finds herself winded.
That's when the Ford she knows returns, some concern on his face at
the damage he has inflicted.
It doesn't last long, the sound of his name being called distracts
him. It's faint, she can barely tell what they are saying, but it
sounds like "aedin" at which he panics. He flees, leaving her alone,
alive and in the path of his team. All she has to do is wait and
she'll be rescued. They won't find Ford, not if he doesn't want to be
found, but they won't go back empty handed. She doubts she could move
even if she wanted to – she can hardly resist them in this condition.
The second chance she'd wanted has found her. She's not the same
person who prayed for it from the Genii, but she would take it from
the Atlanteans. Although it seems Ford is beyond saving, perhaps it
might not be too late for her.