Even after Teyla's eyes flutter open, she is not sure that she is no longer dreaming. The dream of restless prowling through the corridors of the city, of the hunt, is not hers, but she recognizes it nonetheless. It resonates with the chill that she has felt since the team returned from Elia's world—the feeling of secret kinship that lurks inside her. Night after night since, the dream has visited her; she knows that if she closes her eyes, she will slide into it again.
She gets up and draws a light robe over her sleeping garments. Her movements look slow to her, as if she were moving underwater, and the light is strange to her eyes. She does not glance in the mirror before she goes out. She is not sure what face she would see.
The walls whisper to her as she walks, words not recognized but familiar, appealing, enticing. Her vision blurs and doubles. With each step, she seems to alternate between self and not-self, and that makes it difficult to walk entirely straight. Her flesh believes she could scale the walls, pass swiftly along the ceiling, and it is a shock when her human fingers touch metal and can get no purchase on it.
"I am coming," she says aloud, and the fog recedes a little, til it is a cold presence wrapped around the edges of her vision.
The Marine outside the infirmary gives her an odd look. "Are you all right, ma'am?"
She straightens. "I am fine. I could not sleep. Is Doctor Beckett in?"
"No, ma'am, he went off-shift a couple hours ago. Doctor Ngoso is on call if you need something."
"No, it is not worth the trouble." She cocks her head. "Is Colonel Sheppard awake?"
"Last I checked, he was out cold. They're still sedating him pretty heavily."
She can tell from his voice that he finds the thought comforting, that he does not wish to have to deal with his commanding officer so changed. She smiles at him brilliantly. "Is it all right if I check on him?"
"Of course, ma'am. Just...if he's asleep..."
"I will not disturb him," she assures him, and goes past.
The privacy screens block the view from the door; she cannot see him yet. But she knows that as she steps inside, John's eyes open, and he smiles.
It has been five days since he was treated, and they are still hiding him from the gaze of others. They fear the appearance of contamination as much as the reality of it. When she emerges from the maze of screens, she finds him restrained in bed, a soft light welling up from behind his shoulder, the rest of his niche submerged in shadow. His hair is rumpled from sleep, and he is unshaven. From the jawline down, he is still iced over, delicate traceries of blue and white covering his throat, and his eyes are dark. His coloring is...disturbingly harmonious to her eyes. Loathsome, she knows, and yet beautiful.
This is what is inside her, she thinks, meeting his gaze, the reality, disquieting and electrifying, of what they mean by their strange jargon of DNA and genetic background. This is what Dr. Heightmeyer told her she needed to confront and understand, so she might control it. This is what Sergeant Bates—and not a few others—fear.
But it is John as well. She is not precisely afraid as she moves to stand at his bedside, but her breath quickens, her heart pounding a subterranean rhythm. The whispers in the air seem to thicken like smoke around them. He looks up at her, stirring against the restraints. His pupils are dilated in the near-dark, into a unnatural shape. After a minute, he speaks, so quietly that she is not sure whether she catches it with her hearing or her mind.
She knows at once what he means; it is the clawing in the veins that has haunted her dreams, during the siege and now. To have something like a Wraith metabolism and no Wraith ability to feed, to nourish it...the suffering is exquisite. And he has told no one.
There is something she could do to ease him, though it would require opening herself further to the chill growing beneath her skin. She shivers, hardly even conscious of making the decision. She pulls off her robe and drops it to the floor. "Lie still."
He quiets, and she takes his shoulders, lowering her forehead to touch his, which is unsettlingly cool and dry. She draws in a deep breath, relaxing, and he seizes connection almost at once. For a second, she is not sure whether she is standing over the bed or lying in it, and vertigo beckons, but then the world settles again. She summons the long-repressed memory for him, from the first time she made contact with the Wraith: reaching out her hand and taking, tearing life from the struggling human, hot and sweet, and the fierce warmth flooding her afterwards, almost to sickness. He starts, gasping and arching up beneath her, and there is a wild pull in her mind for more.
She draws out the moment as long as she can, trying to let him savor the sensation, herself almost overcome by his echoed desire. As it fades, she hears fabric ripping, feels him shift again, moving against the restraints. She starts to straighten, but in a second, he has her head, pulling her down for a bruising kiss.
The last time he did this, she pushed him away, resisting, but now his scent is right, as the scent of no other man she has been with has ever quite been before. It appeals past her rational mind as if it were simply not there to something deeper, more primal. The pheromone, she thinks distantly as his fingers tighten in her hair. The thought that she would respond to a Wraith this way is terrifying, enough that she remains frozen. But he senses what she needs, holds her there for a long moment until her hands drop again to his shoulders. Then he flips her into the bed with a low growl and covers her.
She claws at his back as he bites at her urgently, ear, jaw, collarbone. His grip is much stronger than it ever has been, but that only makes her need to struggle all the wilder. They have sparred so often, yet it has been only a pale shadow of this, the way they were meant to be. The tangling sheets limit their motion as they writhe, but she finally brings a knee up hard into his stomach. He gasps a little, and then laughs, low in her ear. He pins her with the full force of his weight, jerks her hair back to bring her eyes up to his, and gives her the look that pinned her against the wall of the gym.
This time, though, she feels as well all the intimate ferocity of his possessiveness. It stops her breath, and she stills. He pulls at her loose pajama pants, and when they do not come down at once, rips them away easily. He slides a hand up her thigh; his touch is rough, but she craves it, pressing down against his fingers as she grows slick. From the way his breathing hitches in the same rhythm as his strokes, she knows that he is feeling some measure of what she feels. She brings her hands up to palm her own breasts, heavy and full, and he jerks as if struck by a stunner.
Then he smiles at her again, or bares his teeth, and drives himself inside her.
The first bolt of his pleasure in entering her is so shocking that she cries out. He puts his hand over her mouth and she sinks her teeth into him to keep quiet as he thrusts. Instinctively, she wraps her legs around his waist and urges him on with her hands. She does not know who this creature is above her, what it is within her that responds to him, but she wants to be hammered into oblivion by these blinding doubled sensations.
He comes with a hoarse cry of his own, and pulls her along with him. For a long moment, she is not even sure whose entangled limbs are whose, which slowly receding pleasure is hers. Eventually, he shifts partially off her, settling so that he can sniff and pat awkwardly at her hair. She wants to burrow herself into his strange animal chill and never move again. Never think about what she has just done.
But as the touch of John's mind retreats, she realizes that she must go. They must not find her here. John makes a displeased noise, but releases her as she sits up. She touches his throat, rubbing gently at the scales there, and he shivers and closes his eyes. The whispers caress the back of her hand.
"You will feel better soon," she tells him before rising. He will forget all this. If they are fortunate.
He is recovering, she thinks, glancing over her shoulder at him as he slips back into sleep. The eerie changes will soon fade away. There should be no more such dreams.
She hopes. Or she tells herself she does.