Author: Cat Latin
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis/Sandman crossover
Characters: McKay/Sheppard, two of the Endless
Word Count: 1045
Warnings: Must I? No small furry animals were harmed in the making of this fic. Oh, and there's a bit of slash.
Disclaimer: SGA, Sandman, and their characters are mine, all mine! Elvis is alive and well and living in my basement. I was on the grassy knoll, and Pop Rocks WILL kill you if you consume them with Pepsi. Not, not, not.
Notes: My response to the Altered Mental States Challenge, over at hawkfromhandsaw . My quote/prompt was: "His body was macerated until only the nerve fibers were left. It was spread like a veil upon a rock."
The future will always be the vocation of the mad. Take a good hard look at any physics department. Then look again, out of the corner of your eye.
Rodney visits where his fingers live from time to time. It’s a long journey, along a well traveled road. The ground is hard, and for each trip he must peel off an epidermal layer as payment. That’s the toll for crossing the bridge of numbers.
He’s a day-tripper, so he’s fast running out of skin.
Rodney had been close to something profound. When he found it, it didn’t exactly break him. It took him. Now, he speaks of sundials and shoals of laughing fish, of a child-woman with rainbow hair, his muse in all things.
A ratty robe and a mismatched pair of socks are all his friends can get him to wear against the chill. He lives in a sparsely decorated infinity, surrounded by four walls. One wall is whiteboard. One wall is glass. The others are mutton and cardamom, except for Thursdays, when they are blue.
And the door ran away with the spoon.
In this funhouse realm, a mutt with delusions of German Shepard acts as the lolling-tongued voice of reason. Not that he’s useful. Without opposable thumbs, he can’t hold a marker or use the laptop. He’ll beg for chocolate and snuffle wetly in your ear, but Barnabas offers no slice of down-to-earthed-ness to his mistress’ charges. Rodney’s never been a dog person anyway.
Delirium touches him sometimes, and Rodney instinctively knows it’s precious and rare. A narrow hand on his cheek, scent of clove, tobacco, dry-erase marker, and she’s close enough that he can see his reflection. Sometimes he swims for days through the floating symbols in her green eye. As he drifts, he lays out perfect plans to bridge galaxies, break boundaries, wreak glad havoc. He casts no reflection in her blue eye. He discovers that he loves her.
“wE knoW thinGs, yOu @nd I,” she informs him, tapping the side of his nose. “W*E knOw thinGs no one else knows, but we can nEver remem*beR it all aT once because THaT would be CHEATING.”
It made perfect sense. Rodney’s dead mother’s scarf was woven through her multicolored hair when she said it, so he knew for certain it was true.
Once, in the middle of the night and without prior agreement, Rodney’s adopted family all show up at exactly the same time to observe him. Elizabeth, Ronon, Teyla, Carson, Radek and John, boss, protectors, partners in crime, healer, friends, lover, colleagues, mourners all crowd up along the one-way glass. They ignore each other mercifully, and watch as Rodney works. He’s cast off the bathrobe and socks. Clothed head to toe in goose bumps, pale under the bluish light, he fills the whiteboard again and again. From time to time he transfers his findings to the work box for Radek to gather up and feed to Atlantis.
Visible only along the paper-thin surface of reflection, a stunted gray woman shuffles past. She’s unclothed, but for a ring on her finger. The ring has a wicked barb on its end. She appears and disappears behind the six still figures with their hands and foreheads pressed to the glass, in her slow migration from now to never. Her fingers are graceful, and rats live in her hair. The barb on her ring leaves phantom gashes on the hearts of all she passes. It’s small and sharp and skewers worlds. They all feel her pass, but only John sees her. Despair nods to him, as one would to an old neighbor, and vanishes.
Rodney is not in isolation. He simply refuses to leave.
There are shields in place around the room that not even Radek can begin to explain. So far, only John has been allowed beyond them. Whatever this is, John suspects that Atlantis is somehow in on it.
Sometimes John will come and sit with Rodney by the broken sundial. John brings Atlantis with him in a zip lock baggie, a perfect, pointy-spired deco masterpiece, and is always careful to lay it out on the table where Rodney can see it, near the onion dip and toadstool ice cream. He also brings the chessboard. They strategize as the leaves turn from frost to bubble. They nudge pewter wizards, plastic weebles, buttons, bits of popcorn and vintage Star Wars action figures around on the squares.
They practice their eye contact. Rodney’s eyes can see everything. On these days, John’s eyes are wet.
Sometimes, when John comes to Rodney, and they meet at their spot by the broken sundial, John hangs a cloth over the observation glass as if he’s mourning the dead. When he does this, Delirium leaves them in peace. They make love and play with twilight, and speak words to each other that are more naked than her rat-loving sister.
Sometimes, when Rodney runs out of whiteboard, John will let him score the numbers and symbols across his body. Rodney’s proofs always come to fruition on John’s bare skin.
Rodney belongs to her, but she lets John keep him. His unruly black hair makes her laugh and she likes the lines around his hazel eyes. John’s not hers, but he respects her. Sometimes she needs that, too.
“yOu Won’t be mIne *forever,” she tells Rodney sadly. “Some d&y soOn, you’ll come out the other side.”