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Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 06:23 pm
TITLE: To See the Shimmer on the Waves (A Sailor's Prayer by Bob Harrison)
And Give, for Wild Confusion, Peace (Navy Hymn by William Whiting)
FANDOM: Stargate SG-1
LENGTH/RATING: 854+ (Active WIP), PG-13
SUMMARY:


The sky is an uneasy shade of amber and Karen keeps reaching up to take off sunglasses she's not wearing. She scratches an arm, skin dry and peeling in the desert heat, and tries to focus on the task at hand.

This is why she hates Daniel's dreams, they're too real, too distracting. The others were more prone to fancy, with settings as fluid as thick pudding. Those she could mold into something palatable, but Daniel-- she sighs and starts up the dune-- Daniel was stubborn.

He is waiting for her under in the shadow of an off-white tent, dressed in the same robes, sipping the same lukewarm tea, and not at all amused.

"How much longer are we going to do this?"

She takes the other seat, unoffered, ignoring his question. By now she knows better than to try for the tea. They've done this hundreds of times before and there's a rhythm to the exchange of subtle insults.

She carefully unwinds the intricate headscarves he's dressed her in, peeling off the layers of costuming until her head is bare. A strand of thick brown-black hair she's never had escapes the careful braids, and she tucks it back into place.

She's never herself in Daniel's dreams, but this time there's something different, something off. It takes her a moment to realize there are only three fingers on her right hand. Remnants from a childhood accident she long ago learned to compensate for, they are a scrap of her own reality seeping through the desert.

She pushes discretely at the shade, pulling down the temperature a few degrees. He glares, but doesn't stop her, and that's also something new. Maybe this time there's a chance...

"I'm not helping you." A pause, in which the glare becomes a frustrated frown. "Give up."

"I never asked for help." Which is true; she's never had to ask before. She eyes the tea, parched by the overwhelming mandate of the dream, but does not ask. He doesn't offer, and this, at least, is familiar. "You need to wake up."

"Where you can torture me, no dice." The glare is back and he leans away from her, the temperature rising with his temper.

"That was a dream." They'd found him encased in the remnants of his captor's ship, suspended in an endless sleep without the kiss to wake him.

"This is a dream." Pushing up glasses he doesn't need, he looks nothing like the man they'd sent her to find. "You can't hurt me here."

"I'm not trying to hurt you." She yanks the temperature down, suddenly furious at the endless accusations, sending the shadows black against black as night pours out of the tent. "Listen to me--"

"Get out." And the desert is back, full force, the sun shuddering into a thousand brighter echoes of his fury.

"Wake UP." She's still fighting as the sun flakes skin from her arms, burns her retinas to milky white, strips her down to bones and darkness. Because the sun was his armor, his weapon, and she will never ask.

"This is my dream and it's time for you to leave." His eyes glow with the same radiance as the suns behind him and it shreds the last of her defenses.

...

The changes is abrupt, one moment scorching the heat of a dying sun and the next in the cool gel of the immersion bed. Karen levers herself up, tensing against the transition from breathing liquid to air. The nurse is only a step away, and moves immediately to help. When the last of the spasms have past, Karen takes off the headset with a sigh; peeling away the sticky circles from skin still parched from imaginary heat. The stubble on her scalp is just long enough to catch and pull as she tugs the electrodes loose. She makes a face at the nurse who grins back.

"Still nothing?"

Karen shakes her head, "not yet."

And in another bed, what was left of Daniel dreams.

...

The next time she slips into his dreams, the tent is gone. She walks alone across the dunes until the timer pulls her out again. She glares at him while toweling off, but she can no more reach him here than in his nightmares.

...

He finds her, four sessions later, as she remakes his abandoned corner of the desert into a beach.

"I told you to get out." He towers over her as she crouches beside her handiwork.

"I know." She coaxes the water higher, consuming the dunes in salty nibbles. He doesn't sound angry, just tired, but they've down this road a thousand times. Only this time she's got her teeth into his dream, and this time she isn't letting go.

He makes a half-hearted attempt to boil the sea away, but the heat only lasts a moment and then he's back to staring down at her.

"You're dying." She says it quietly, in-between the heartbeats of the waves.

"I know." And he smiles, that sad lost smile from the photographs they'd given her. "I still won't help you."

The waves are halfway up the dune when the timer calls her home.

...


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