Title: Alone in the Crowd
Author: Jinni (email@example.com)
Disclaimer: All things SGA belong to MGM, et al. All things BtVS/AtS belong to Joss Whedon, et al.
Pairing: Female Joss ‘verse/Chaya (a surprise pairing, omg!)
Warning: Slight hint of femslash
Notes: For Challenge #2 at SG_BtVS () for Team:SGA ().
Summary: She doesn’t remember there being any pain.
She doesn’t remember there being any pain. It is over too quick for that. Fatal almost instantly. Light extinguished too quickly to even leave a phantom glow. An entire life, over in what amounts to nothing more than the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. She was never more than a drop of water in a very, very big body of water, and her life – her death
- is a ripple spreading out for a millisecond before fading completely.
Hovering there, at the edge of life and death, she’s given a choice by a woman with brown hair, who speaks in riddles for what seems like forever before she gives up with a tired sigh and lays it all on the line. A choice to be made. Hers and hers alone. No one can make it for her.You can choose this path… or you can complete your journey.
she asks, though she already knows. Maybe saying the word has made it more real, because she knows even as she does so that she doesn’t want that, doesn’t want to die.
The decision is easy – to keep going, or to give up and surrender to what might lay beyond.
Living with the choice once it is made is so hard, though.
It’s everything and nothing. Glowing warmth that never warms. Community all around her, but she’s absolutely, completely alone. It’s very familiar and completely, unaccountably different from anything she has ever known. Like coming home and finding that everything is rearranged, backwards. Nothing makes sense, even as everything snaps into place.
She watches over her friends, because there’s no where else she tells herself she’d rather be. Watches the ones that she loves as they struggle and almost fall. They don’t, though it always seems too close for comfort. It was always like that, though, even before.
Eventually, it becomes too much and she has to leave, to get away. She can’t intercede, can’t interfere. It’s the one rule of what she is now that her benefactor admonished her with before leaving her to her own devices. Her friends must be allowed to do this on their own, rise or fall. She can hope that they don’t fail. Can pray to whatever gods there are, though she’s not so sure anymore that there are
any, but she can’t do a single thing to help them.
Too much to watch, and leaving is easier than she would have ever thought it would be, when it finally comes down to it.
Wandering, aimless. Never alone, yet always
alone. Others are there, hovering and watching. Observing. Like voyeurs at a peep show, but this is life and it should mean more.
They are always observing. Passive. Self-involved. Righteous in their own minds. And she knows that these are both the right
things to think about these others that she’s never even met, but she can’t stop herself. So much in this world that is evil, that can be ended with a thought, and they do nothing. Sitting back, watching the world pass them by.
But there’s nothing to be done about it. She’s not really sure what would happen if she interferes, that is kept from her. It would be bad, she assumes. Maybe even…permanent.
She doesn’t want to die, still. Even with everything that she seesknowsfeels
weighing her down like a ton of bricks. Weight without weight, because she’s nothing more than energy, and there are no bricks here where she is. The only weight is in what she imagines is still her heart and that thing she thinks must be her soul, if souls even exist. All this knowledge, and she’s more unsure about life and living than she ever was when she was still…well, more alive than she is now
The Earth is too close, she finds, to keep herself from going back, watching over friendsfamilyloves
, so further she must go. To planets that have no names, have never seen life. To places where the inhabitants are more human than most of the greedy, selfish people that walk the Earth. Aliens that are so different and, yet, still the same. There’s evil all over, not just on Earth, she finds. Maybe what’s out here is even worse
And that is disheartening.
Time passes, loneliness grows. The others who are always there do not keep council with her. Not even conversation. They’re always there as a presence inside of her, but they aren’t her friends. She doesn’t know their names, and finds that they don’t care to know hers.
If this is life, she doesn’t want to know what death is.
Still the subconscious pull to check on her friends is too strong. So easy to go back to them, to look in and make sure they are safe. It wouldn’t take any effort at all.
Instead she goes even farther away, away from temptation, even though it breaks her heart to do so.
Another galaxy, another set of problems. Everywhere she looks there are life and death struggles. The things here remind her of the life she left behind. Wraith. Anathema. Evil. Like vampires back on Earth, though these creatures wouldn’t know that term. This can’t be allowed to continue, she thinks.
If anyone agrees with her, they don’t speak up. She’s a minority among the masses. If she could still sigh, she would. The sentiment is there, though.
It’s surprising to find that humans from Earth
are out here so far from home, and even as she thinks that she knows that the information was always there for her, if she had wanted it. Like so many other things, she doesn’t know what she knows
until there’s a reason for her to actively think about it.
She tries to think about what would happen if she interfered just once, tries to pin down that ever elusive tidbit of knowledge that’s so far been denied her. There…there… no. It slips through her fingers, leaving her just as hollow and empty as she was before.
Life…living. She doesn’t know anymore what that means. Memory is all she has left to tell her what she should
feel. Skin and touch. Smell and taste. The feel of skin beneath her hands and lips on her neck. She wants…she aches
It would be easier if she could forget. Maybe then she wouldn’t hurt with the need to reconnect so badly, to remember what it’s like to truly live
. Easier, still, if she’d never made this choice, she thinks. Because then she wouldn’t doubt that there was something waiting for her. She’d still believe that there was something higher than this, a place of eternal peace. Her reward for being good, for living a good life.
Hard to give it all up when all she has left is uncertainty and a lingering doubt that this is it.
Roaming, wandering. She moves from place to place, looking over the shoulders of those from her galaxy sometimes. The one with big mouth. The one that looks like he just crawled out of bed. The warrior woman that reminds her so much of a slayer she once knew. A man that is tall and strong, with depths she
can see, though she wonders if he’ll ever let anyone in again. More, so many more, in their city on the sea.
One day she almost shows herself, gives herself away. They’re in trouble and she can help, she knows she can. She starts to manifest, a glow nothing more.
If she wonders about them, about ifhowdid
they manage to survive, it’s fleeting. She can’t allow herself more than that.
She forgets what it’s like to care enough to want to risk everything.
It’s by accident that she finds the planet, nestled away like a hidden treasure. Hovering, watching, she feels something tugging at her. A gentle reproach, a warning. Shouldn’t be here
, it seems to whisper. Not supposed to be here
The others make no move to intervene, so whatever the problem with this place is, she thinks that maybe it’s not a big enough issue that they’ll punish her for staying. What she’s feeling, that warning and sense of nonono
isn’t from them, anyway. It’s instinctive, that knowledge. The others are just as hands off in this as they are in anything else.
So she stays.
Peace. There’s such peace here. A simple way of life. Venturing closer, she watches the inhabitants as they go about their lives. Smiling and being joyous with one another. The fear that laces so many worlds doesn’t touch this one.
Still someone watches, someone waits. Patiently, hesitantly, with that same warning. It tickles at her consciousness, whispers nebulous advice for her to heed, to leave this place or she may never be allowed to leave again.
For the first time since everything started, she doesn’t run. She can’t, locked into a decision she unconsciously made from the moment she saw this place.
The temple below her is inviting. She looks down on it, knows that the one that has been watching her is in there.
A thought. Diving. Swooping. Passing through stone and wood, to what’s beneath.
Golden light meets golden light. She’s caught up, enveloped, wrapped in it. Warm for the first time since this all began. Thoughts and memories surround her, not her own. She’s giving and taking, caressed and caressing. It’s incorporeal, insubstantial, and more intimate than anything
she’s ever done before. Beyond flesh and bone, it’s a merging of minds and will.
And she no longer doubts that there is – that she has
- a soul, because she’s sharing it with this other, just as she is sharing with her.
She. Light. Peace. Welcome. A sense of loneliness so strong that it makes her ache inside, but it’s not her own. That feeling belongs solely to the other…this one that she’s wrapped up inside of and blanketing all at once. She’s made whole she’s –
Flesh comes back to her in a blaze of thought and, yes, she knew she could do this. Knew that she could take shape and form, but she hasn’t done it before. Hasn’t felt the ground beneath her feet in what might have been an eternity. This is new and frightening, wondrous and painful. She forgets what it felt like to curl her toes against the ground, feel rocks push up into the soft soles of her feet. There’s a wind blowing through the courtyard of the temple, and it ruffles her hair, chills her skin. She looks down, and is glad that the clothing thing was instinctual. That would have been embarrassing.
Movement catches her eye. Another shape taking form, coalescing from light to flesh. A slow whirlwind, spiraling into shape. Her breath catches in her throat – and, wow, breathing
. The woman in front of her is beautiful and so very alive
. From the way that her eyes glow with emotion, to the simple rise and fall of her chest.
She reaches out without thinking, touches the arm that’s within reach. Her fingers glance over skin, tracing bare flesh. It’s silken smoothness, warmth and so familiar
. This is what it is to touch, her mind says. You remember this
, she tells herself. You liked this, once
Being in this form isn’t new for the one she’s touching, that much she saw in the other’s memories, just as she knows that this is the first contact the other has had with one of her own kind in so very long.
They come together without words, hands trailing over skin. It’s non-sexual. Comfort and need and want. Grounding, if such a thing can be said when she’s spent months - years? forever?
- weightless and floating.
Lips touch. The taste of sweetness, like honey – the juice that is drunk inside the temple with meals. She doesn’t know what the other tastes on her lips, but nothing
comes to mind. Maybe she should eat something, drink something. Taste something
She pulls back, giggles nervously. And that is not new. That was her
before this all began. Nervous and shy.
“Welcome to Proculus,” the other smiles at her gently, and the words might as well be a welcome to her new home, because she saw that in the other’s mind when they shared with one another. That nebulous ruling body of their kind will not allow her to simply walk away now that she has interfered with this one’s
punishment. “I am Chaya.”
Chaya. She knew that, but before now it seemed wrong to think of her in that way, let alone say it. Sharing is good, introductions are better. She’s no longer ‘the other’. Not ‘savior’ or ‘friend’, though she thinks they will
They’ve both been so alone.
“Hi,” she murmurs. “I –“ And there’s that stutter. Some things will never change. “I’m Tara.”