TITLE: "Second Sight"

AUTHOR: Little Red

RATING: PG-13 for mention of violence and sex

CATEGORY: John/Elizabeth

SPOILERS: Um. Wraiths are bad. Science-fiction things tend to happen on this show. Set in a future season.

SUMMARY: Seeing the future isn't always a good thing.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I like writing post-eps to episodes that don't exist.


***


It's late at night, Atlantis-time, but John is still surprised that she's asleep when he knocks.

"There's no emergency," he tells her before she can spring out of bed, grab her jacket, and wake up completely on her way to the control tower. They have gotten far too good at that, lately. "I'm sorry. I'll come back."

Her hair is messy and it only serves to highlight the sleepily confused look she throws him. "Are you sure?" Elizabeth disentangles her arm from the blankets with some effort and checks her watch. "You didn't wake me up at 0400 just to see if I was here."

Actually, that sums up his unconscious intention rather scarily well, and it stops him in his mental tracks long enough for her to get worried.

"Come in." She clears her throat and sits up all the way, bringing her knees up and curling herself around them. She looks impossibly soft. He wants to say he knows her better than that, knows that 'soft' is the last adjective any sane person would apply to her after watching her outwit hostile aliens and unflinchingly order the self-destruction of the whole city last month before their 11th hour reprieve, but her unguarded look of concern is captivating and he wants to sink into it. "What's wrong?"

"I didn't tell you everything."

He isn't sure if she heard him. Her attention is focused on his face now that he's close enough to the light of her bed lamp for her to see it. He knows he doesn't look good, that he hasn't slept or shaved in almost three days, but her eyes make it seem much worse than the mirror did.

She pulls down the covers for him with one hand. When he doesn't move, she invites him aloud. "Come here."

He sits on the edge of the bed but doesn't slip into it. Her warmth in the bedding is tangible and he wants to forget why he came here, forget what he saw and just bury himself in Elizabeth-scented sheets for an entire twenty-eight hour day.

If he gives in to that he'll never tell her, and she has a right to know.

When he doesn't say anything, she asks. "What happened out there?"

"I saw something."

She nods once, encouraging, gently concerned. She doesn't understand and he doesn't want to change that. His eyes follow the unmarred trail of her jaw, her smooth neck, her chest rising and falling in calm, even breaths. He doesn't want to lose this. He can't lose this.

"The Orendi natives believe a Seeker experience foretells the future."

She knows this, but it feels important to start from scratch, to test out the waters of this conversation slowly because he has no idea how deep they go.

"McKay doesn't believe that's possible," she reminds him, not really arguing so much as trying to guess where he's going. "He told me the unique properties of the natural energy in the cave system the Orendi believe is ruled by the 'Seeker' interfere with electrical impulses in certain regions of the brain. Vivid hallucinations are a side effect."

"I don't know how he can say that," John counters. "He saw the same things we did."

"Yes. You put your visions in your reports," she reminds him. "The Orendi settlement was attacked, just like you thought it would be."

"I didn't just think it. I felt it. I was there. Every detail. And it all played out exactly like it did in the cave." He winces as he remembers. The smells and sounds of a village being torn apart by Wraith fighters get no easier to stomach for the number times he has seen it happen. He sees the Ethosians in every innocent human culture they come across, but this time, the chaos and destruction he witnessed isn't the worst part and it isn't over when the Wraith finish selecting their victims and leave.

Ford told them all about his own other vision. He's been walking around joking about it since they got back to Atlantis, trying to guess if any of the women he has already met will mother the little Ford Jr. in his dream. It shouldn't be a surprise to Elizabeth that they all had similar, personal visions of the distant or not-so-distant future. Teyla has only said that hers gave her hope, believing that discussing the prophecy in detail will keep it from coming true. McKay hasn't said a word about what he saw, and has been touchier than usual whenever Ford tries to get it out of him.

When Ford asked John about his vision, he told him that he saw Michigan winning the Rose Bowl in overtime and none of them being in the Milky Way to see it.

"I saw you."

She can probably tell from his voice that this isn't a good thing, and she goes a little paler even before she hears the details.

"It's just a flash," he says. "I don't know where we are. We're not in the city."

She turns so she's facing him rather than just looking at him sideways, and the mattress dips with her shifting weight. "Go on."

"We're... in a town square, somewhere. A market or a meeting place. There are lots of people." He grits his teeth and tells her in one breath, like ripping off a bandaid so hard it reopens the wound. "There's a misunderstanding. Someone pulls a knife on McKay and you get in the way."

Elizabeth takes in a breath and lets it out slowly. "You saw me die," she summarizes.

"I didn't just-" he didn't just see it. If he closes his eyes, if he puts aside the feeling of the blanket in his fist and the familiar smell of salt from the open window, he's there. Her blood is sticky and hot over his hands as he fails to hold it inside her fragile throat. The market is so deafening that he can't pick out individual voices, not even his own as he yells for help and curses at her to keep breathing. It takes her long, horrible minutes to die, and by the end he's completely paralyzed, like he's dying, too.

It isn't just a nightmarish speculation anymore. He knows now what it feels like to lose her. He doesn't think he can ever be prepared for it.

Elizabeth looks a little sick in real life as she watches the nightmare play out across his face and no doubt conjures up some gruesome images of her own. She looks small and fragile and uncertain -- other things he's never associated with her before.

"What can we do?"

He wants to tell her never to leave the city again, but he knows that's impossible. "I don't know."

There's an obvious change in posture and expression as her rational mind reasserts itself. "If McKay is right, these visions don't really tell the future. You were all concerned about a possible Wraith attack when you went into that cave, so it stands to reason that would be what you would see. Your knowledge of the Wraith and their tactics filled in the details of the attack ahead of time."

He's shaking his head, but she keeps talking.

"Maybe this is just..." she hesitates, and frowns, "something else you've been thinking about."

It's hard to believe his own mind could do that to her. "I try not to think about it."

She takes his face in her hands and kisses his stubbled cheek so gently it hurts. He wants her, badly, and it scares him that he's too tired for this feeling to be about sex.

"You've seen it happen," she says an inch from his skin. "Maybe this means you can keep it from happening again."

He swallows, wishes he'd paid attention to anything in the vision besides her, tries to commit the layout of the market and the accents of the people to memory so that he can recognize the scene before it's too late. "What if I can't?"

It isn't really a question. He's seen what will happen. Even if McKay is right, it isn't an easy image to dismiss.

"I trust you." With that, she turns off the light and slides back down onto the bed. "Come on. You need to sleep."

His mind is still wired, but his body begins to fade on him the moment he sinks into her bed and her arms. He touches the unbroken skin of her throat, gently resting his hand there until he feels her even pulse against his fingers. She brushes his hair back from his face and snuggles close until he can feel her warmth all through his body.

They share a bed perhaps more often than he'd admit, but this is different. When they sleep together, sex or just sleep, it's about convenience, not comfort. This isn't what they do, but maybe it should be.

He doesn't feel strangled by her legs tangled with his, by her hand protectively resting on his cheek, but maybe it's because he's just so tired.

"I'm glad you told me," she says.

"I didn't want to freak you out."

They're lying so close, almost nose-to-nose, that he can't see her expression. "I know. I'm glad you told me anyway." She kisses his forehead tenderly and settles down into the mattress. "Sleep well."

She drifts off first. He falls asleep to the sound of her breathing and feels better.

*end*

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