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Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford



CATEGORY: H/C, introspection, drama

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: The Storm/The Eye

SUMMARY: The aftermath of the Storm hits Atlantis hard.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).

The corridors are silent, as she continues walking, joining several others on their way to her destination. Only the footsteps of her fellow Lanteans echo loudly on the metal floors. The sorrowful atmosphere resonates with her soul and once more she tries to quell the tears that threaten to fall.

Her group finally steps into a semi-covered hall. In the far back, there is no roof, only the darkening sky. It is dusk, the sun is setting, making the ocean glow with the last rays of brilliant gold. Some stars are already visible, shining brightly in a galaxy that is becoming more and more deadly.

Her eyes fall onto the two bodies lying peacefully on the funeral pyres, nothing reminding of their violent deaths just days ago. She knew them both. Each came to her after some of the more difficult missions. One always spoke of his mother, her cooking and how he missed her. The other had no family, but was easy-going and popular among his fellow soldiers.

Now they are lying here, never to walk again. She sighs bitterly and even that sound seems like a sacrilege in this place. Nobody ever speaks much at these things. There will be ceremonies later, each commemorating their lives and accomplishments differently, but honoring them all the same. It is never easy to lose someone you know, someone you are close to. They are a small community, melded together through blood and tears and dreams. Each loss hits them hard.

The hall is full now, the crowd motionless and solemn in the face of their combined grief. Suddenly, she hears the unmistakable sound of a bagpipe filling the air. The melody falls and rises again, simple and yet intricate. It fills her heart with the heaviness of despair. She looks down and closes her eyes, before taking a deep breath and straightening her back, her gaze on the horizon. The sun is almost gone and with the last light also fade the mournful cries of the bagpipe. It is silent now.

From each side of the hall two people step forward. She recognizes them. It is not explicitly stated, but it is acknowledged nonetheless. Despite their isolation from Earth, some rules and regulations still exist. If the majority of the Expedition is already disregarding these particular ones, then neither Doctor Weir nor Major Sheppard give any indication that they know. They do, of course.

Both of the women, who stepped forward, are holding torches. Almost simultaneously they lower them and set the pyres aflame. The fire spreads quickly, enfolding the bodies and burning higher and hotter than should be possible. Sparks rise into the midnight sky. For a moment, she remembers her childhood and her belief that these fiery particles would fly into the heavens and become stars.

She stands there for a long time just watching. Slowly, as the crowd begins to dissolve, she turns and walks away. There is no wish in her to join the various services, so she goes to a balcony not far from her office. She found this place not long after their arrival and it calms her after a stressful day of work.

“Kate,” the soft voice behind her says and she smiles slightly.

“Hello, Carson.”

He looks a little bit worse for wear, but that is understandable. He was in the thick of things during the invasion. His presence doesn’t disturb her; on the contrary, it helps. The two of them are healers, though in different fields. He heals the body and she tries to alleviate the pain of soul and mind.

“How are the others?” Kate asks and truly wants to know, if only to prepare for the next few days. Would she once more have a session with a stoic Major Sheppard, who tells her of his actions in a voice that hides everything but still says too much? Or the frantic mutters of Doctor McKay as he tries to find what he did wrong?

“Things have calmed down, relatively speaking.” Carson takes a sip from the Athosian Ale and offers her the bottle, shrugging when she declines. “The Major has been in closed meetings with Doctor Weir and Seren David. They’re still trying to find out how this could have happened. Rodney is frantically working on some of his new projects.” He groans. “This whole fiasco will have long-lasting consequences.”

Kate grimaces and looks at the stars. She never imagined she would be in another galaxy, fighting for survival against aliens and trying to save the sanity of so many people. Would she be able to? She doesn’t know. She sees it on the faces of her fellow Lanteans, in their eyes. Some have already begun breaking, some will shatter into a thousand pieces and it will be her job to pick them up and make them whole again.

She doesn’t regret going on the Expedition, not really. As a child she dreamed of far away worlds and wonders, each more magnificent than the one before. Some of these things she saw. Is that not reason enough to risk death?

“Did you ever think…”, she trails off and doesn’t know how to continue. Did he ever think that they would end up here? Fighting aliens? Trying to survive in a hostile galaxy? There is so much meaning in this one half-sentence, but she is unable to articulate her thoughts.

She snorts quietly. She, the one whose profession it is to soothe and reassure through the power of words, is unable to find them. How ironic. Nevertheless, his warm, compassionate eyes tell her that he understands only too well.

“I don’t believe anyone did.” Nobody was prepared to face what they now do. Nobody even imagined that such a situation was possible. Despite their experiences with the Goa’uld, the dangers of the Milky Way, somehow, they never thought they would meet a foe even more dangerous and terrifying. Perhaps it is human nature that makes one hope for the best instead of the worst.

Kate leans against him and he doesn’t reject her. Instead, he pulls her closer, one hand moving gently across her back. A feeling wells up from the depths of her soul and, suddenly, her eyes prickle and her head is aching. Abstractly, Kate knows what this is. She is only human and everyone, no matter how prepared or unwavering, eventually breaks.

“Carson,” she whispers and he pulls her closer still, probably hearing the fear in her voice. “Help me.”

And he does. Together they stand up and walk to her quarters. Their clothes fall to the floor and moonlight illuminates the room. He is tender in his actions, so unbelievably, unconscionably tender, that when she lies safely in his arms afterwards, the emotions she tried so long to suppress can be held back no longer.

Her tears fall unencumbered onto the sheets and his hand is still gently caressing her back, steadfast and true. In this one moment she is more thankful for him than he will ever know. This is something she has been denying herself and it is wonderful and cathartic and he is here. Here to pick up the pieces.

Tomorrow, there will be another day of wonders and dangers and death. Yes, there will be funerals and mourning and perhaps, one day, it will be her lying on the pyres and him who will have to carry the torch. But that is life. It is wild and beautiful and magnificent.

Through her tears, she smiles.

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