This round called for a 400 word story from Teyla's viewpoint, featuring only female characters. I really didn't expect to do well in this round, since my piece read like only a fragment of a much longer (unwritten) story, but, hey...
The Scent of Home
A tarvil bird was making its familiar eerie wail, and everywhere there was the scent of herbs and her father's cooking.
But when Teyla moved, pain exploded in her head. The tarvil bird became a siren racing past in the hectic world outside, and she was far from home, and hurting.
"I woke you." Jeannie's hands fluttered anxiously. "I asked if you could recuperate here rather than in a military hospital. I thought…"
Teyla remembered garish lights on a desolate dock. She remembered a sea of people in uniform, all of them strangers. She remembered pain and shouting, so much shouting, and then darkness jagged with shards of red.
The pain crested. "Are John and Rodney…?".
Jeannie shook her head. "Still missing. But Ronon says they have a very promising new lead." Her smile was a fragile, desperate thing.
A mug of herbal tea steamed on the bedside table. Through the steam, Teyla saw a fair-haired child faltering at the doorway, and she tried to smile at her, but could muster nothing but tears. When Jeannie called to her with fond sharpness, the little girl scampered away.
Pain dragged out words Teyla had not meant to say. "Torren was about to take his first steps when I left. When the news came, Ronon and I…" They had left for Earth without a thought, but John and Rodney were still missing, and Earth was so very far from home.
"Oh, Teyla." Jeannie took Teyla's hand. She was a ghost of Rodney, her eyes the same vivid blue. "When I went to Atlantis when Mer was losing his mind, I missed Madison's…" She covered her face with her hand, but when she lowered it, her eyes were clear. "But it's just how it is, and if I hadn't done it..." She smiled. "It was worth it, Teyla. He's my brother."
The tea smelled the same as the herbs of home. Jeannie smiled as a friend would smile, and the bed was warm, the blankets hand-knitted. She would miss a hundred special moments, yes, but John and Rodney needed her. She had made her choice many moons ago, and it was right. It was right.
"Yes," she said, and pushing past pain, she reached for the tea that tasted of home and past and memory; of family and hope and the future. "And they are mine."
And I will find them, she vowed.
This round was for a 400 word story from Ronon's viewpoint, involving any or all of the team. I'd actually had this idea in my head for several weeks, ever since it became clear that we were working through the team members, and was really hoping that the Ronon challenge allowed me to include Sheppard and the rest of the team. Which it did. :-)
Blood fell down upon him like rain.
"Let go," Ronon begged.
"Sheppard, let go of me."
"No." The word was a strangled gasp; the expression in Sheppard's eyes was anything but.
"Sheppard…!" Ronon was hanging by one arm, the other one useless at his side. Wind tore at his clothes. Hail gouged seams in his face, and the broken bridge sagged ever lower.
"No, buddy." It was just a breath now, fainter than the wind.
Frayed ropes strained above him. Far below, jagged rocks rose from a mass of spray. It would be a quick death – falling, falling; a quick burst of pain, and then nothing.
Sheppard's hands gripped his wrist like a fiery manacle. Through a hole in the rotting bridge, Ronon could see the arrow in Sheppard's side twisting and grating with every quiver of his straining muscles.
"No," Ronon gasped, "no," and he was dangling over the edge, poised on the brink of the precipice, as blazing, soul-consuming, mind-destroying addiction dragged him into a pit that had no end. Tyre and the others had gone before him, and Ronon had tried to stop himself falling, tried not to fall into the precipice, but…
"Ronon," Sheppard rasped, "I'm not… letting… go."
Ronon shook his head. "You have to." You can't save everyone. He moistened his lips, tasting blood. It's been a pleasure. But that suited death side by side with a comrade, standing firm against the enemy. This was…
Falling. Falling. He couldn't keep himself from falling.
His right arm was broken, but he could still grip a knife. He brought it up slowly, screaming as he did so. Blood soaked their clasped hands, and Sheppard's grip was slipping, slipping… "I'm sorry," Ronon said. Dark light glinted on the blade.
"Don't be," Sheppard breathed, and then he let go.
He jarred to rest on hard metal hovering barely yards below him. Teyla grabbed him, trying to haul him into the jumper, but Ronon was already pulling away, back to the hail-scoured brink of the open hatch.
When Sheppard came tumbling down, it was Ronon who caught him, wrapping him in his screaming, blood-stained arms, easing him towards the warmth of his team. You fell, yes, Sheppard's eyes said, as his fist grasped Ronon's coat with an unyielding grip, but we're here to catch you. We always will be.
And it was true, of course.
Round 8 is proving a challenge, calling as it does for only the minor characters to be used. The worst thing about it is that I actually came up with an idea just before bed on Saturday night, but decided that it wasn't going to work. However, since it was in my head as I fell asleep, I proceeded to dream the entire scenario, which now means that my muse thinks that it is my One True Round 8 Entry and refuses to consider anything else, even though I still know that it doesn't really work.
And I mentioned that I'd been writing? The story in question is finished now, and I hope to start posting it tomorrow. 58,000 words of totally unexpected AU, prompted by a request on the flashfic wish fulfillment challenge, which sparked my imagination just as I'd been on the verge of starting to plan my totally different "next long story."