unadrift: (nightshift)
[personal profile] unadrift
Title: Feed the Beast
Author: [personal profile] unadrift
Categories: Keller, angst
Rating: PG
Words: 770
Notes: Tag for The Seed. Written for the Season 5 Tagathon on [livejournal.com profile] sga_episodefic. Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] ambrosia4all for the beta!

On the first day it's darkness that gets to her.

Jennifer has been released to her quarters, apparently fit to sleep in her own bed again. She lies down with a sigh and doesn't think about it twice when she palms the controls on the nightstand. From the moment the light fades into complete blackness Jennifer is paralyzed, her chest tight with panic, fear rising like bile in her throat.

She's being eaten alive again, transformed, used. She's losing her mind. Left alone. In the dark.

Lashing out, Jennifer manages to turn the lights back on. She lies awake until dawn.

The next day, it's the feeling of rubber touching her skin.

Doctor Greene reaches out to grab an empty test tube from across the lab bench and brushes Jennifer's forearm with her gloved hand. A vivid sense memory of tentacles, goddamn tentacles, creeping slowly across skin – purposeful, searching – washes over Jennifer.

She drops the Erlenmeyer flask she's been holding. An intense sense of vertigo makes her blindly reach out and grab hold of something. When she can open her eyes again, she's breathing hard. Her knuckles ache from their tight grip on the lab bench, and the flask is lying on the floor, in pieces.

Doctor Greene sends her home with a gentle shove in the direction of the door. Jennifer can't summon up the energy or the determination to argue with her and just returns to her quarters. She lies awake for the better part of another night, with the lights on.

The day after, it's the smell of coconut.

Wraith ships never smelled like coconut before, or at least Jennifer has never heard about it. And with Rodney around, she's sure that she would have.

It's a whiff of the new soap the Daedalus brought on its latest supply run that causes Jennifer to freeze in terror. Her wide eyes stare back at her from the mirror over the basin. She almost doesn't make it to the toilet before she throws up, shaking all over.

She remembers the hunger – it's there instantly, completely, like a physical blow. Hunger-- for raw material, for energy, for her sanity. Hunger that wasn't really hers, and the smell of coconut filling her nose.

Jennifer sinks to the floor, rests her head on cool tile and tries to breathe through her mouth.

A few hours later, it's Ronon who makes her lose it.

In that first moment right after Jennifer literally runs into him in the mess, she wants to punch him hard, hurt him, make him bleed for what he's doing. Because he's a threat, he's going to kill her, he's-- No.

Her hand is still curled into a fist when she arrives in her quarters, panting for breath.

Jennifer vividly remembers Ronon's pulse slowing under her fingers, his life leaving him with every labored breath. The fact that it wasn't her hand that almost killed him doesn't help at all. Her knees are weak, and she moves to stretch out on the bed, tears soaking the pillow, until, eventually, she falls asleep.

It's the first time she dreams again.

There's air rushing past her, howling – pressure and heat so strong it almost hurts. There's the pull of gravity, a thousand times stronger than it's supposed to be. It eases, more and more, and finally fades into nothing.

She's there, out in the open, with three dimensions to choose from, and with so much space around her that it's almost terrifying.

She's come alive, risen from the place of her birth into the sky, free--

Jennifer jerks awake. She doesn't think about it, just gets up and puts on the first clothes that fall into her hands. The walk through the corridors barely registers with her. One moment she is leaving her quarters, and the next she is standing in front of a door. She knocks.

"I want to fly," she says when Sheppard opens. He looks disheveled, but alert. Jennifer hadn't noticed exactly how late it is. "Can you teach me how to fly?"

Sheppard's face goes through nuances of slight annoyance, mild confusion, and finally understanding. Jennifer wonders whether he still feels the scales on his body itch sometimes, and if that's why he shrugs and says, "Sure."

"Okay. Thanks," Jennifer answers, feeling stupid. "I should-- go now. Let you get some sleep." She takes two steps backwards. "Goodnight."

"Doctor Keller," he says, when she's about to turn and go. His expression is as blank as she wants her mind to be. "It gets easier. With time."

Jennifer gives him a tight smile. "I hope so."

- end -

A Thousand Words (tag for 5x01) // What About Everything (missing scene from 5x03)

Date: 2008-07-31 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spes-abrin.livejournal.com
This was really well done. And I like that John agrees to teach her to fly. Do we know if Jennifer has the gene? either naturally or artificially?

Date: 2008-07-31 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
That's a good question. I don't think it's been mentioned. Has it? Or can I just pretend that the gene therapy worked on her?
Oh, and thank you!

Date: 2008-07-31 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spes-abrin.livejournal.com
I don't think it has been mentioned... So pretending the therapy worked sound good to me!

Date: 2008-08-01 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Will do that, then :)

Date: 2008-07-31 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tacittype.livejournal.com
That was creepy! Does she want to learn to fly, or is it the tentacles?

And I felt like John just inaugurated her, or something. She just survived a Pegasus rite of passage with a freaky creature all of her own. Now she can compare alien possessions with the cool kids.

Date: 2008-08-01 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Is there a club for the formerly possessed? There should be a club.
Ooh, creepy? Cool! I was thinking along these lines: give the tentacles *something*, so that the other symptoms might ease a little faster (hence the title). But it's very much open to interpretation :-)

Date: 2008-07-31 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] valleya.livejournal.com
It's a great angle to take with the aftermath of The Seed. I really liked it. Thanks for sharing it

Date: 2008-08-01 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Jennifer couldn't possibly be back to normal in the space of a week. It bugs me a little that she is (although I should be used to this kind of thing in SGA by now). Therefore: this. Thank you!

Date: 2008-08-01 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ambrosia4all.livejournal.com
I think poor Keller needs hugs. Preferably from Ronon :)


Date: 2008-08-01 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
You're right! When she's no longer freaking out about him. *g*
*hugs* to Keller

Date: 2008-08-01 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snarkydame.livejournal.com
Very good! The pacing and the phrasing and just the general flow of the piece is lovely: Jennifer wonders whether he still feels the scales on his body itch sometimes, and if that's why he shrugs and says, "Sure." Simple and understated and just right. ♥

Date: 2008-08-01 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Ooh, thank you so much!

Date: 2008-08-01 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wraithfodder.livejournal.com
Ah, now I love Keller in fanfic because when written well, like here, she's a fleshed-out character... :)

Date: 2008-08-01 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm really happy you liked Keller here!

Date: 2008-08-04 06:53 am (UTC)
naye: the going merry go on blue waters with the words "follow your dreams" (atlantis - moon)
From: [personal profile] naye
Oh, nice!

This really highlights what a terrible experience it was for Jennifer, and how difficult it is to just shake something like this off. (They need a new psychologist, dammit!) The memory of smell being such a powerful trigger rings very true to me - and that Wraith ships smell of coconut? Hey, it could happen!

Love how this ends, with something - almost positive? Wanting to fly. Needing to fly. The reason why isn't exactly good, but... that Jennifer can go to John, and that he understands? Aww. ♥

Date: 2008-08-05 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Yes, I'm playing into my *How can they always be back to normal the next week?* issues here :-)

And they really do need a psychologist. I'd like it to be a male psychologist. Why? Um, for variety? And because I imagine they'd have a much harder time with mandatory visits to a male psychologist. And by *they* I mean John. (Not that he'd voluntarily consult *any* kind of psychologist.)

Although-- we're already on male leadership now. It would tip the male/female ratio a little in our favor if they got a female psychologist. I'm undecided.

Date: 2008-08-18 12:14 pm (UTC)
ext_52867: (Default)
From: [identity profile] krissie678.livejournal.com
Really well written. I loved the way you portrayed Keller.

Date: 2008-08-18 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
I'm happy you liked, especially since this is the first time I've written her!

Date: 2008-08-18 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rac80.livejournal.com
good story, very well written.

Date: 2008-08-21 04:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Thank you!
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