|Date(s):||December 2, 2007|
|External Links:||White Walls|
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Four went out, and three came back. Sheppard has vanished, and the rest of his team lies injured. By the time they recover, the trail has gone cold. As Sheppard and his team fight their own separate battles for hope and survival, the true danger may be different from what any of them expect.
Spoilers: This is set shortly after the early fourth season episode Reunion, and has spoilers up until then, but not beyond.
Content: There is a lot of angst and emotional whump in this story. Don't come here looking for laughs. It's rated T for some violent imagery and general psychological darkness, though there's nothing graphic. It's gen.
As I said in the notes to my last story, we're back in those autumn woods in the rain… Not for long, though.
A ridiculously overlong note:
In a way, this story dates back around eleven years. Back then, I was writing in The X-Files fandom, contendedly whumping Mulder in the way that I now whump Sheppard. After I'd read (and written) a lot of "Mulder is captured and badly hurt" stories, I started wondering about a scenario in which he was captured and not hurt at all, but was driven mad by the threat of hurt. Imagined monsters are always more scary than any monster we see on screen.
Well, I wrote that story (and called it Gilded Cage), but I always felt afterwards that I'd wasted the potential of the idea. It was short one-shot, for one thing, and it ended bleakly and dishonestly, with Mulder rescued, but so lost in a dream world that he was unable to recognise his rescuers. (I call this ending "dishonest" since, in reality, he would probably recover in the end, but I didn't give readers any hint that this would happen, just left them with the sad ending.) However, I never forgot the scenario, and when I got into this fandom, and started reading stories in which Sheppard was captured and horribly hurt, it returned in full force. I very soon had Sheppard's entire storyline clear in my mind.
However, I was adamant that I wanted the rest of the team to have a proper storyline, too, with proper character arcs. Sometimes, in stories in which one character is captured, the other characters' scenes read like mere filler, and very tempting to skip. Back when I started working on the idea, when I was still catching up on season 3, I couldn't find a way to give the other characters the sort of plot I wanted for them.
Then I saw Reunion, and suddenly I knew. We have a brand new leader, an unknown quantity to two of our team. We've lost Elizabeth and Carson, and even our nice close-knit team has been under threat, with Ronon's near departure. Suddenly there was so much more to play with. This story wouldn't have worked in the same at any other point in the show's timeline, I think.
I did quite a bit of research on this story, about the psychological effects of solitary confinement (that was bizarre bedtime reading, I can tell you.) Fanfic often puts its heroes through an enormous amount of suffering, and has them recover with barely a psychological scar, but even the strongest of men do get psychologically scarred by solitary confinement, especially when you add in the element of threat and imminent danger, as here. I think Sheppard coped fairly well, actually. Better than poor Mulder did, anyway.
The main worry I have about this is over Sheppard's recovery at the end. Recovery is a long, slow process. Clearly I couldn't show it in immense detail, or we'd have two hundred pages of very similar scenes. My usual solution is to write up to a turning point, and end with the characters – and readers - confident that they will recover, but not actually showing the recovery in detail. This story seemed to demand a bit more, so I gave it what is probably my first ever epilogue, of the "several weeks later" type. I hope it doesn't seem like an unnaturally quick recovery. Quite a lot of weeks have passed off camera, and there is more recovery still to come.Anyway… Thank you very much for reading, and especial thanks to those who've reviewed. I'm now off to decide which of the three or four vague ideas I have floating in my head will become my next multi-part story – though I have a half-written Secret Santa response to finish first. First, though, I'm off to relax on the couch, read a book, and step back from the rather claustrophobic world of editing this story, which has very much dominated my week. Despite the intensity, I've really enjoyed writing and posting this one. I hope you all enjoyed reading it.