A/N: This was inspired of the Evanescence song, Missing and after a few twists of my subconscious, this blew out from it. :) Enjoy. The conclusion should be posted tomorrow.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sheppard. Or Atlantis. But I do look off the Golden gate and try to imagine it. That's about the closest I can get to it. :((
Open, wide, and never-ending land spread out from the military issued boots of a soldier. A stiff wind blew through his already tousled hair, sending a small chill up his spine, though he would never admit that there was a bit of apprehension hidden in his shiver. He swung around, trying to take in all his surroundings at once, but unable to decide his location.
"How the heck did I get here, wherever here is?" he muttered to himself, hand slipping to his hip for his holster, hanging empty on the belt. His reaction was to reach for his knife, also missing. Fear sprang into the usually soft hazel eyes, as he spun, mouth falling open from a sense of helplessness. His gaze turned to steely as he assessed if there was any threat, but there was no definition to the vastness engulfing him, just flat and bare nothingness, and seemingly devoid of life. The pale sky offered no color, just whiteness, as if a snow flurry could blow in on a moment's notice. He started walking, but without anything to mark his progress, he felt as if he was marching in place.
"Sheppard." The wind seemed to whisper his name to him. Hunching and looking up in tandem, he couldn't see anything. "Sheppard." It came again, fainter.
"Who's there? Why not come out and face me? And tell me where the hell I am!" The last sentence came out as a command, a bit harsher than he expected, but why play games? That was Teyla's roll. He felt his stomach turn, where was his team? He had stepped through the 'gate with them, but he couldn't remember anything after that.
"They are fine." The voice whispered. "You are fine."
"Then where am I?" He snapped, still spinning to find something.
"You are in your id." The voice developed a fairly female touch to its already ethereal quality.
"Can I at least see who I am talking to?" He stopped searching, for a woman appeared out of thin air and started toward him. "And you are?"
"Seraph." Her hair flowed white and long, not unlike a wraith queen, but Sheppard didn't want to make that comparison. Her features were anything but hideous. Fine featured, the only color to her face was the soft pink of her lips, and the pale blue eyes. Her movements were haunting with the long flowing white fabric dress accentuating her ghostlike qualities.
"Isn't that a type of angel?" he murmured as she stepped gingerly closer to him, stopping half an arm's length away.
"Yes, it is. But that is what you view me as, is it not?" She whispered to him, her breath softly blowing on his face, sweet smelling and, very feminine. She took his hand in hers, gently huffing on it, and only then did he realize how cold he was. When she brought her head up, they were face to face. He felt a desire build up inside of him, and a sardonic thought hit him that at least he was no longer chilled.
Swallowing hard, he looked away, "Where am I?"
Rejection filled those blue eyes, and he felt a knife of pain go through his back and he fell to the ground gasping.
"You are in your id." She expressed, whispering it into his ear.
"I thought that was my unconscious part of my mind."
"And you get closer to the solution to your puzzle." Her smile developed an alluring touch as she leaned down to help him up.
"So you aren't real?" Her arousing touch on his arm felt real enough as she slid it down to his hand.
"I am very real." Sultry and smooth, her lips looked evermore inviting.
A clap of thunder peal rumbled off in the distance, distracting her from him, her face turning away. He caught her chin, kissing her softly. She kissed him back, pressing up against his body and into his arms. Seraph jerked away, her jaw tight and her eyes wide until they rolled back into her head. Collapsing to the ground, her back arched then succumbed to convulsions. Lunging to the ground, he held her in his arms as she foamed and writhed. The pale white sky turned dark and angry as the thunder shook the ground and rain pelted and stung Sheppard's bare skin. It drenched her immediately, soaking through her thin garment. Covering her as much as he could, but open to the bare elements there was nothing he could do but hold her. He felt the hair on the back of his neck raise, a build-up of electricity ready to discharge at any moment. Glancing up, he saw the bold a split-second before he saw nothing.
Jolting straight up, John Sheppard sat on top of his bed. Breathing hard, he took a second to calm himself, reminding that it was only a dream. Swinging his legs off the bed, he worked his fingers over the edge, gripping and releasing till all the tension slipped away. Glancing over at the side table, he noticed his clock was missing. He looked around the rest of the room, but everything of his was missing, including his Johnny Cash poster. The layout was his room, but an eerie uncertainty came over him. Peeking under the bed, he couldn't find even a dust ball. It was as if it had just been cleaned out.
He looked up for a camera, "Nice try McKay. You got me. Now give it all back." He growled. Silence returned his threat. Stalking out of the room, he hunted down a certain narcissistic scientist. Hearing heavy footsteps and the usual complaining of the grouchy quarry, Sheppard stood, arms crossed, in the center of the hallway, waiting for him to come around the corner.
"Zelekna, you idiot! Why did you rewire the Naquada generator to power the…" he cut off as his radio crackled. "Oh."
Sheppard let all frustration seep away, and put a good-natured grin on as the over-caffeinated man came around the corner, concentrated on his radio and not where he was going, walking right into, no through Sheppard, and out the other side. John spun, mouth dropped open in shock. McKay prattled on, chastising the Czech. Sheppard bolted forward, intentionally trying to collide into him, and kept on going right through him. Stumbling when he didn't stop by the bulk of his friend, he reached to catch himself against the wall. Atlantis supported the brunt of his weight, keeping him from falling down or through the wall. Bouncing up, he tried waving his arms, frantic to get McKay to pay attention to him, but he was invisible.
Standing there, the man who always had a plan of action was baffled. Not even the sound of him smacking the wall was enough to turn McKay's head. An idea snapped into his head, McKay, slightly oblivious, could tune out. What if he was nothing but on a different wavelength, literally? And McKay, being McKay could miss the subtleties of the different playing field. He bolted from the hallway, and darted into the mess hall. Thankfully, he caught the tail end of lunch hour as he ran forward to jump on one of the tables. Instead, he landed lower than he expected, right through the table and, with knees buckling, on the ground. He hollered out, "Hey! I'm here." Waving his hands in the faces of those eating, a memory came flooding back into his mind.
"Dad!" A 6 year old John stood at the end of his father's desk, "Dad!" The older man stayed tuned out to his child and into his mountain deep paper work. Dejected, he turned and left.
A panic rose to the back of his throat, he had no idea how to make himself visible to the world passing on around him. Stuffing down his feelings, and telling himself that he was over-reacting, he headed slowly up to the control room, trying one last ditch effort. As he made his way to the transport, he heard a whisper.
Spinning, he searched around Atlantis for her. Her? She was from a dream, nothing more. Shaking it off, he walked on as a glow illuminated the unlit hallway a few feet ahead. Reaching for his gun, he realized he had no weapons, again.
"Sheppard." The voice developed a more sing-song tone to it, as she came around the corner. "There you are. Why are you hiding from me?" her pale cheeks flushed to the softest of pinks as she glided closer.
"I, uh. Well, I didn't know you were, you know."
"I said I was very real." Hurt shown in her eyes and a spasm of pain shot through his knee, making it give out. He tried to suppress the groan but failed. She stood over him, reaching out a hand.
"You've gotta stop doing that. It hurts."
"You've only hurt yourself." She chided softly, stroking his cheek.
Gently pushing her hand away, he asked, "What's going on?"
"Didn't you know?" Shock cracked her voice as her head tilted, pure surprise etched into her face.
"Know what?" He kept up a guarded position, keeping her from proximity.
"Ascended?" His eyes narrowed in disbelief. "Somehow I don't…" his words were cut off as she took his hands in hers and they slowly lifted from the ground, up and through the different levels of Atlantis.
"Why is it that when I hit the wall I didn't go through? How are you doing this?"
She put her finger on his lips. "Shush, it's ok. It's not a bad thing. You must realize that the City of the Ancients is designed to host the Ascended. You'll become accustomed to traveling like one of us, verses the corporeal ways of your past." Her eyes latched onto his, probing for his emotions. He tried to block out fear, to put on his typical bravado, but she caught on too quick.
"Then what was all that before, in my…"
"Your id. You are developing the traits of an Ascended One. But do know that you are not on the same level as the other Ancients. You have a bit to go before then. I am here to guide you." Her face remained neutral, but her eyes sparkled.
"Seraph, I don't want to ascend." He kept his gaze steady and watched as she sucked her cheeks in.
"Look about you." Changing the subject, she pointed all around her. Sheppard finally noticed they were above looking down on the city. With the setting sun, the spire architecture became clearly defined, contrasting the harsh edges with the warm color of the reds and yellows intermingling over the pure blue depths of the sea.
"This? This is home for me. I don't want to leave."
"I was not finished yet." She pulled him along, over the ocean, skimming down to run along the waves. "When one first ascends, they must delve deep into their unconscious; they must face all demons, conquer their fears, and cut themselves off from their ties to the tangible world they formerly inhabited. As they make their ways up the different planes to the complete ascension, the subconscious knowledge they have learned will become more and more complete and readily accessible."
"What if I don't want to ascend?" Sheppard trailed his finger in the water, flicking at a fish drawn up by the thought of a good meal.
Seraph came to a dead halt, surprise and bewilderment etched in the furrows of her pale face. Sheppard, having to keep himself from falling into the water, levitated himself above the water.
"You don't want to ascend? Then why did you start the process?" She whispered, as if not wanting to know the answer, sorrow trimming her words.
"I didn't start the damned process. I can't remember how I got here!" he growled.
Seraph turned away. "You can't reverse the process. You've come too far."
"Wait, I thought you can get kicked out of ascension if…"
She shushed him again. "You must ascend before you descend." Her eyes avoided his as she said this, her posture tensing as she watched several orbs of light approaching. They hovered about 5 yards off, and Seraph tuned in as if they were communicating.
"What's going on? Why can't I understand them?" John had always disliked not knowing what was happening, and not being able to speak "Ascended" was rather irritating. "If I'm ascending, why can't I understand them? I understood Chaya…" He broke off as one of the balls of light came closer, glowing with an incandescent shimmer, with a definite nuance of green. "Shutting up."
"You are strong with the gene of the Ancients. Our kind was wise to pick you to ascend." Its voice reverberated slightly like a radio slightly outside of the signal's range. "The communication between us and you will clear up once you have reached the same level of existence as us, but until then, you will have to suffice with Seraph teaching you."
"Wait, I thought that I have to make the choice to."
"You came to our world, did you not? We do not have time to deal with frivolities. Our existence is threatened by a group of beings you do not know, and we need you. Once ascended, you may choose to go back to your tangible self, and lose all knowledge you will have gained. But for now we need you, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. Please help us." Even with the platitudes, there was a growing sense of haughtiness in the phrases.
"So you're saying…"
"I just told you what I said. Why complicate it with simpler sentences? If you are to join us, stop having me reiterate the exact same phrases!" the glowing ball huffed as it backed off, "You do have your work cut out for you, Seraph. Make sure he ascends properly." With that, the glowies, as John then dubbed them, disappeared.
"So where am I?" he turned to face Seraph.
"You catch on quick. You are still in your id. Because you must ascend alone, I must leave you now." She started pulling away, and fading out, turning into a pure white glowie.
"Wait. What do I do now?" He reached out to grab her, and his hand went through her like mist.
"Face your demons." Her voice faded out and she was gone.
John awoke, lying in yet another bed. The sun glinted through the slats of the mini blind covering the bedroom window. The sheet was wrapped around his sweat soaked body, and he went to push the covers away when he realized he was lying in his birthday suit. Hearing the doorknob rattle as someone was entering the room, he snatched up the blankets, hating the vulnerability of his position. He felt heat flare up his neck and onto his cheeks when he saw in the shadows, the silhouette of a woman walk in. As she came into the light, his jaw dropped. Nancy.
"John!" she cried, running over to the edge of the bed, wrapping her arms around him. He moaned as injuries he didn't know he had complained from the pressure from her embrace.
"Are you alright?" she backed off, looking him over. He glanced down at his own body, noticing bruises littering his arms and torso, along with many cuts and minor lacerations. "Oh my god! What happened?"
"I ran into technical difficulties." He gave his signature smile, trying to play down the severity.
"Don't you dare patronize me!" Nancy snapped. "I am your wife, and I care. This wasn't one of your black ops, was it?"
"Training exercise. My buddy fell and I turned back to help him. Tripped and slid down a ridge. Couldn't help it. Clumsy me."
"I know you are lying through your teeth." She turned away, arms crossed. John moved to go to her, but she spun back, eyes flashing. "What kind of government forces its citizens to lie to their spouses?
"Hey, sweetie. I'm sorry. It's"
"National security. Believe me, I know." Her voice cracked, and he saw the tears welling in her eyes. "And I don't think I can handle this anymore."
John pulled the sheet with him as he went to hold her, just to reassure her that he'd always be there for her, that he'd never die. She stayed rigid in his hug as he leaned down to whisper, "I won't leave you."
"But you can't promise that. And that's what scares me. And I don't want to hurt any more. You are more committed to this country than you are to me. Every time the phone rings when you are gone, every time there is a knock at the door, every time I see one of those government issued cars, my heart freezes, my throat tightens. I know you would do anything to any one of your men, and anything for me. But you aren't superman. You aren't invincible. And I don't want to tear your heart too many ways, John." She looked up into his eyes, a tear slipping down her cheek. He brushed it away with his thumb.
"But my heart isn't torn. I love you."
"I know you do."
He pulled her chin up to his, kissing her gently. She kissed him back, it turning more passionate, but then pulled away. "The problem is that I care too much. And I…"
"You're just running." Hurt tore in his heart.
"I figure we do this sooner than later, with less pain. I cannot be a soldier's wife. I'm sorry." Her voice turned brusque with professionalism. Time seemed to freeze at that moment.
Seraph appeared in the doorway, her white gown billowing out. She strode over, pulling him away from the frozen Nancy.
"How the hell am I supposed to face my demons, when my wife is breaking up with me again?"
"Your emotions must not be so strong for her. She is gone. You are no longer in the same galaxy. Close your mind to her."
John looked over at the woman with the dirty blonde hair being held still by some unseen physics. His touched her face one last time. "I know. She's married. And I'm in Atlantis. It would never work." Wryly, he smirked, turning around and staring right into Seraph's knowing gaze.
"Alright." Surroundings changed quickly, and Sheppard was standing there with an ARG in hand, shots coming at him. He was staring directly into the brown eyes of Elizabeth Weir.
An unseen Seraph whispered into his mind, "I said, 'let go.'"
"Go." Weir ordered, just like every time he had played it out in his mind. He remembered his thoughts, he couldn't leave her. Not to the fate Oberoth had in mind for her. And he shouldn't bring her. She was riddled with nanites, nanites that could take control of her. Take her away from him, along with everything she had vowed to protect. He hesitates. Maybe, if he stays, he could save her. Rodney will fix it later, he always does. He sees her determination. She knows he must go. Atlantis, and all she represents, is on the verge of being compromised. Sparks fly behind him as they are still shooting. Seraph appears behind her, untouched by the battle surrounding her, marching toward him, past the replicators and Elizabeth. Her blue eyes turned colder than her pale skin as she approached.
"Time just got shorter, you'll have to do it another way." She ordered, grabbing him by the arm, leaving Weir alone, again.
"How am I supposed to do this when you keep interrupting?" he barked, wrenching away from her. "This is my mind, after all. I'm not able to hop dance around my past mistakes and skeletons, then move on. There's a damn good reason they still plague me!"
"The enemy is approaching, and my people need you now." She looked back at him, face softening with fear. Sheppard nodded slowly, noticing they were now in nothingness. Limbo was the term, or purgatory, a smirk crossed his face.
"What do I have to do?" Stuffing back his uncertainty that always came up with he faced emotions, he rubbed the back of his neck as the glowies approached.
"Finish ascension, immediately." The voice reverberated, and Sheppard took three floating steps back. There was no doubt that it was a Wraith queen inside that glowing ball of light, the pure disdain dripping in her tone.