Originally Posted: Feb. 2nd, 2008
Length/Rating: 283 words, PG, Gen
Pairing/Warnings: McShep if you squint, not death!fic.
Summary: Inspired by the line: The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats from the poem “Counting The Beats” by Robert Graves. sga_flashfic F**king freezing challenge.
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It had stopped hurting, but he couldn’t remember when. He’d lost all sense of time, deep in the heart of the glacial fissure. There was no sunlight –save for the shifting shadows that tinted the ice above him– but he thought it might still be day. He’d fallen so very long ago. Long in terms of heartbeats, breath, thought… his watch arm is twisted beneath him and he has no sense of hours.There had been static from the radio, broken with what might have been voices, but that had been when he could still feel his legs.
All he has now is breath, and heartbeat, and hope.
He could count down Pi in rhythm with his heart, or count up primes, or hold one-sided conversations with the dark… But he’s done all those, or he thinks he has, and now there’s just the silence of the ice. So he stops counting. He dreams of flying, soaring over the vast white plains of snow and ice, gliding on the creaks and moans and shuddering snaps as the glacier dies around him.
It takes them two days to find him, thirty-nine hours of increasing panic and decreasing hope. But they don’t stop looking, Rodney won’t let them stop looking, and finally John comes home. Two days in the ice is two months in recovery, but he comes back hale and whole and that’s more than anyone had dared to hope for.
And they never tell him how long he was down in the ice. Rodney’s buried the records and blackmailed the staff, and they let him… because John’s sure, with a faith that they can’t bear to break, that it was only heartbeats.