TITLE: If Wishes Were...
SEASON: Season 4
WARNINGS: PG, gen, a few swear words. Oh, don't eat while reading this.
DISCLAIMER: Stargate Atlantis characters belong to MGM, SciFi, and all those corporate copyholders. The story, dialogue, etc. are mine, mine, all mine! (to quote Daffy Duck). Feel free to link to story but do not copy elsewhere.
If Wishes Were…
JOHN SHEPPARD had intimate knowledge of what it was like to asphyxiate. Once, he’d passed out from lack of oxygen in a test flight in the Air Force, one designed expressly for that purpose so a pilot would be well versed what would happen if they pushed the limits too far, and then, in another galaxy, far, far away, a suicidal man had set off an explosion to decompress an entire alien space station. He’d nearly gotten away with it, and Sheppard could still remember the overwhelming pressure in his chest, the loss of sensation and the darkness crowding in as the oxygen withdrew from the chamber and he’d collapsed to the cold steel floor, awareness flooding away.
It sucked. Sheppard knew it sucked because at that very moment, by his own order, the air was being forcibly vented at a rapid rate from the entire Midway station. Except for the control room, of course, a little voice in his mind insisted over the roar of the decompression. But at least they’d be rid of the Wraith and Earth would be safe.
He’d been so close to salvation. Then that damned wraith had smashed into him like an overeager linebacker trying to impress his cheerleader girlfriend. He’d been bulldozed into the hard wall, and precious air had been knocked from his lungs, but worse, the Wraith was trying to suck the life out of him! He hadn’t thought it was possible to beat off a wraith with his fists, but the adrenaline surge of both anger and fear gave him the extra strength to knock the wraith far enough away so that he could unload his .9mm into the wretched creature.
Dark spots were beginning to dance sporadically in his vision, a precursor to his impending death. They glittered annoyingly in contrast to the stark white spacesuit not far away on the wall.
His limbs felt like lead, weighing him down as the pressure and pain built in his chest. He couldn’t draw in a breath.
Damn. This was it.
The spots were increasing, expanding like pools of oozing black oil until abruptly, they coalesced into one blinding flash of light that hovered phantasmagorically just a foot from his face, glowing brilliantly.
It had wings.
Gossamar wings. Didn’t they all have gossamer wings? What the hell was gossamer anyway?
And legs and arms and hands and in one tiny hand, a wand.
“What is your wish?”
“Huh?” Sheppard rasped, his voice a reedy whisper as the atmosphere wildly ruffled at his hair. Crap, he was going to die hallucinating about some four inch Tinkerbell with a receding hairline in a blue tutu.
Pain registered across his nose when the fairy flitted up to him and swatted him with the wand.
“Pay attention,” the fairy demanded in a sharp, nasal voice. Great, it sounded like fingernails down a chalkboard. “You have one wish. I’d suggest you do it soon before you end up like the wraith.”
This was insane. “Who?” Sheppard managed to squeak, or maybe he thought he’d spoken. His chest was constricting. Was he being crushed to death by a giant anaconda?
“Name’s… Frank,” the flittering fairy snapped, crossing arms in what was now an uncanny imitation of a certain astrophysicist he knew. “I’m the Pegasus Galaxy version of your fairy god-person. You didn’t think you survived everything in this galaxy through sheer dumb luck, did you?”
Oh god, he’d lost his mind, and his lungs were going to squash and bleed out any second now.
“Make a wish but consider it wisely,” the fairy intoned, waving its wand haphazardly. “And none of that world peace or destroy all the wraith. It’s the weekend, after all.
Too much. His vision was graying now, the edges bleeding into eternal black. He could swear the faux fairy was standing in mid-air, taping one foot impatiently against nothing.
Damned wraith. Sheppard knew he would have made it to the space suit and sanctuary if…
“As you wish!” the little voice harped in his ear.
And blackness consumed his very being.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Earth to Sheppard.” A fork with a piece of tantalizing crisp bacon speared to its tines waved alluringly close to his face, then darted away and into the wide maw of one Dr. Rodney McKay. “I asked,” he continued, chewing down on the bacon, “how the hell you managed to get into that spacesuit. It takes at least half an hour to get into one of those damned things.”
Sheppard remembered his first ‘class’ on how to don a spacesuit, all the incredibly detailed information about urine collection devices and cooling garments and HUTs and EMUs and that you could don it all in 15 minutes, less if you were panicked and didn’t care about wetting your pants, but not quick enough if the atmosphere around you was vanishing.
“No one can hold their breath in what nearly amounts to explosive decompression for that long,” Rodney continued, waving his fork around.
Sheppard had to resist the urge to laugh out loud, because the fork waving was far too similar to the wand-waving little mini-McKay-fairy god-person he’d hallucinated. Maybe he had brain damage from oxygen deprivation. He could tell them the truth – he had no idea how he’d managed to save his skin – or he could just blurt out what he thought had happened.
Both Teyla and Ronon were seated at the table, slowly consuming their own breakfasts but also intrigued with the one-sided conversation between Rodney and Sheppard. He saw Ronon shove the last blueberry muffin over to Teyla, who was, well, eating for two nowadays.
Tell the story? Hell, why not?
“Well, first Ralph attacked me.”
“Who?” Rodney scowled at him suspiciously.
“Ralph. The Wraith.”
“Do you need to name them all?”
“Hmm, no,” admitted Sheppard. “Anyway, he attacked me, we struggled and I managed to finally shoot him dead but by that time there was no air really left and I was about read to kick the bucket when Frank came along and saved me.”
“A Wraith?” Teyla added very slowly, looking wary.
“No, fairy godperson,” corrected Sheppard. “Guess they’re politically correct in the Pegasus Galaxy as there are no godmothers or godfathers – heh, he would have come with a machine gun instead of a sparkly wand then,” he continued, ignoring the looking of ‘ohmygod, he’s insane!’ expression glazing the scientist’s eyes across the table. “So, since it was the weekend, he didn’t do big things like save the universe. I guess I made the right wish just as I was gonna croak and poof, he popped me into the spacesuit. Although if I’d really thought about it, I should have just wished to be in the puddle jumper instead. Would have made more sense, now that I think of it. Ah, hindsight.”
Sheppard popped a grape into his mouth and smiled innocently.
McKay looked ready to stroke out. “Fine, mister macho-hero who doesn’t need to explain,” blurted McKay finally. “And who keeps the others in the dark because maybe this might prove useful to the rest of us one day.”
Teyla and Ronon both blinked, stared at each other and then Sheppard, and burst out laughing.
“Well, you’ll have to put reality in your report,” crowed McKay. His face then dissolved into trepidation. “You’re not seriously going to put space fairies into your report?”
“Men in white coats? Baskets?” prodded McKay.
“I was just damn lucky, Rodney,” Sheppard finally settled. “I really don’t remember how I did it but I guess panic and imminent death can really get a person going. You know how it is.”
“I—“ McKay’s eyes glittered dangerously. “That’s right, taunt the scientist.”
“Everybody needs a hobby,” replied Sheppard, tilting his cup upward and draining the last of his orange juice. Damn, he’d have to wait another month or more for the Daedalus to bring a re-supply of the stuff. A glint of light beyond the table caught his attention. It was perched just on the rail of the balcony beyond. For a second… nah. The sun was rising, catching the metal at just the right angle, that’s all.
The light rose slowly from the length of silver railing. It hovered, and even from the distance he could detect the subtle flittering of … wings. A tiny limb reached out like a flower unfurling like a petal in the morning rays, then waved. A second later, it shot up to the sky, vanishing into the sunny sky.
“Are you going to drink that?” Ronon’s deep voice drew his attention back to his team, and the breakfast table.
In his hand was a full cup of orange juice.
Comments welcome. Okay, I’ll beg. I’d like to know what people think J