When Dr Carson Beckett observed her prone body, he was reminded of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Her hair was loose around her shoulders, waves of shiny, glistening bronze despite her comatose state. Her face betrayed no pain, no conscious thought. She looked peaceful and untouched by the world. She seemed removed from time, lying in the deathly still sheets.
Meanwhile, the machine beside her beeped faithfully, informing the room of her steady heart rate. While every device in the infirmary declared her perfectly healthy, her eyes would not open and her lips would not smile.
Teyla had been this way since the last mission of her team. She’d taken a blast from a weapon in her stomach and had been carried through the Stargate, eyes open but unseeing. When she had arrived in the infirmary and laid down, her eyes had shut. Now they seemed sealed for eternity.
Carson often kept vigil by his more serious patients. He was admittedly closer to some than others but he felt his presence did something. Although, he was starting to doubt what effect he could possibly have on a coma patient.
He heard footsteps approach and Dr Biro’s query. Carson rubbed his eyes wearily. He heard words, but couldn’t distinguish what they meant. He chose to say without emotion, “There’s been no change.”
Another query. Dr Beckett wished Dr Biro would leave him alone. He was in no mood to answer questions he couldn’t manage to hear. He tried to think what answer this one required. He settled for lying easily, “I’ll stay just a wee bit longer.”
This didn’t entirely satisfy Dr Biro, but soon Carson was left in the peace that he wanted.
Outside the sky was dark and very few lights reflected off the water. The city slept and so did Teyla. Her breathing never hitched and never quickened. Carson watched her slack face and not for the first time wondered why he didn’t get some rest. He trusted his staff enough to be there instead of himself for the waking of any disorientated patient.
It had been two days. He couldn’t remember leaving her side at any time during those forty eight hours. Tiredness tickled his eyes and pulled his head towards his knees. Beckett rubbed his eyes again and shifted his chair forward, hoping the action would stir him from his drowsiness.
It did, thankfully.
“You can’t seem to keep out of here,” he told Teyla, remembering her last visit to the infirmary.
Teyla had borne the loss of her last remaining family member as a leader, but the shadow on her face since then had been testimony to her private mourning. Carson could almost hear her singing as he thought of the funeral. Her voice had struck chords within his soul and he would be very unlikely to forget that.
The dark night rolled on. Some time later to keep himself awake again, the doctor opened a window in the infirmary. Sweet ocean air filled the room, but there was no change in Teyla’s silence.
The light shining down on her head made a ring of light on her hair, almost like a crown. She was a comatose princess, beautiful yet absent. Carson sat by her side again and rested an elbow on the table by her bed. Supporting his head with one hand, he watched her as he was now very accustomed to.
His thoughts drifted back to the fairy tale. Teyla certainly was sleeping and she had a stunning, almost blinding, beauty. An illogical part of his brain suggested that as in the fairy tale, there was a way of waking her up. Expelling a small snort at his expense, Beckett cast his eyes to the heart monitor.
It continued as it had been. When his eyes returned to his patient, he was prepared to continue watching. He rested one hand on the bed to stop himself from slumping forward from fatigue. Carson blinked away darkness from his vision.
“Where is your Prince Charming, love?” he joked quietly. “There’s a good chance Colonel Sheppard has gone to bed.”
John could charm the pants off anyone. But he hadn’t been in the infirmary since the day before. There was only Dr Beckett here now. He said lightly, “I hope the draught isn’t making you cold.”
Instinctively, his hand on the bed lifted to her leg and he rubbed gently for a few moments. The sheets rustled briefly, then quietened as Carson let his hand rest on her knee. There was no reaction, but there was warmth beneath his fingers. He felt that he was invading her privacy yet he could not pull his hand away.
He felt drawn to her. Perhaps it was the light, suddenly, inexplicably making her skin glow. Gazing at her face, Carson was startled to feel those same chords in his soul struck again, but her lips were sealed. He realised that it was not her voice that had touched him. It was her.
Unsettled by the dizziness driving white sparks across his vision, he drew back his hand as though burnt. Dr Beckett stood and moved quickly away. He didn’t dare look at her again. He was quite ready to head off to his quarters now. There was someone on duty in one of the isolation rooms.
But his feet never took him far enough. He turned back to sleeping Athosian, heart jumping into his throat. She could be in that state for a few more days yet. It would do her justice to wake up to a friendly face.
Maybe there was a way to wake her now. A way that neither medicine nor science could explain.
Carson walked towards his vacated chair, but he did not sit down again. He hovered uncertainly beside her. He said awkwardly, “It always works in fairy tales.”
That was his excuse. There was no one to watch as he sat on the bed beside her and leaned one hand on the pillow beside her head. He slowly, hesitantly leaned over her. As his face neared hers, he could distinguish her rich, woody scent from the smells of chemicals and cleanliness of the infirmary.
Carson closed his eyes as he gently pressed his lips to Teyla’s unmoving ones. If anyone had come in at that moment, they would have seen two statues, removed from time as a page in a story book.
A gust of wind through the open window blew apart the moment. Beckett opened his eyes and felt a shock run through him. Staring up at him were a pair of warm brown eyes belonging to a very much awake Teyla Emmagan.