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[ over and over and over ]
For one second there, he hates her. It repeats in his mind over and over and over again, the fuck you on the back of his tongue, and it tastes like blood. That one second where he wants to turn to her and say ya know what? You have no idea. You have no idea, what this does to me. No idea.
Except she does, and that's why it only lasts one second. Even if it does repeat in his head for the next hour, the next day, the next decade, it only lasted one second. It's the aftermath that lasts longer. It's always the aftermath that lasts longer.
Because Teyla's done this, seen this, over and over and over. This culling, this raping of a planet. People she's known her whole life, people she's know for theirs, here one second and gone the next, beamed up into some fucked up version of a Star Trek beam except this time it's to the bad guys. This time they're gonna be wrapped in cocoons and sucked dry. If they're lucky.
But in that one second that he allows himself, he hates her more than he's hated anything ever in his whole entire life. Because she was looking at him with that disappointment, that I'm ashamed of you look, that I expected better of you look, and look at what happened, look how it turned out. He hates her because he's had this knife in his heart for years now and she's twisting it and she doesn't even know.
If he thinks hard enough he can still feel that first sting, the first time the knife nicked him. That first bullet he fired that ended someone's life. The first time he looked into another human being's eyes and knew that it was him or them and his finger was pulling the trigger before his mind was catching up. He can still feel that sharp intake of breath, that no escaping his lips, that moment when his heart stops and he wants to take it back, turn back time, and just delete all of this, every single second of it.
They say you get used to it, they say your mind develops a way of coping with anything, but that's bullshit. It's bullshit because he never got used to it. Never got used to the fact that his job was to take lives. Never got used to talking to someone one second and hearing their lungs crackle and rasp until finally they stopped breathing all together the next. Never got used to not being able to trust anyone on the other side, not even the five year old bringing over a mango because he's seen it, he's seen that mango blow up and take five of his men with it.
You become detached though. He's had so many out of body experiences that he can't even count them all using all of his fingers and all of his toes. Moments when he's floating above himself, when he's out of bullets and he's out of grenades, and all he's got is a knife and the lightening-quick reflexes it takes to jump someone from behind and slit their throat in a quick one two.
When he's somewhere off to the side of himself, a fallen brother somewhere in the back of his helicopter cradled in someone's lap and he's shouting over the wind and the noise of the engine and the blades hey, Seth, you're gonna be all right it's just a flesh wound, you're fine buddy, I got a cold one for you back at the base, it's on me, you're gonna be kickin' my ass in Rummy in no time. Even as he can see the color draining out of his face, feel the life draining out, knows bone deep that Seth isn't gonna make it past five minutes, much less back to the base.
The mind really does have ways of coping, but he's never really called it getting used to it.
There's a twist of the knife for all of them. All of the men that have died on his watch, been killed on his watch, been tortured on his watch. The ones he never got to, the ones he got to too late, the ones he watched walk into a wall of fire and never come out on the other side. Every time he watches someone die, here, he's right back there, right back in Afghanistan, and it doesn't matter if it's the Wraith or the Taliban or Osama bin Laden himself, it's the same damn movie reel, over and over and over.
And if he lets himself think about it, that knife twist gets longer and deeper and more jagged when it comes to Mitch and Dex, because those guys were supposed to make it. Those guys were right behind him, right with him, all the way through, making the unbearable bearable and telling him to get his ass up when he got too weighed down and slapping him on the back and being just the epitome of the college-aged fratboy that he might have been in a different life with a different father, and they were supposed to make it, god damnit, even if he wasn't.
He'd watched their helicopter blow up from fifty feet away and that knife had twisted and stuck and punctured his lung and he'd died right there in the air, his copilot yelling at him and his radio squawking at him about orders and how dare you and your ass is grass, and all he could hear was Dex, red faced and giggling, and Mitch, talking about blondes with big tits and how much ass he was gonna get when he got home.
So for that one second, when he's diving on the ground with someone in his arms and then he's looking up and seeing five, six, seven people being beamed up straight to hell and every instinct in his body is screaming no, no, not them, me, me, I already got my get out of jail free card, you took Mitch, you took Dex, it's my turn you bastards, why do I have to keep reliving this, when is this gonna end, when do I get to stop being the one that watches everyone else get taken away, he hates her. He hates her with every fiber of his being.
Because he can't just keep doing this, keep sitting there doing nothing. He can't keep watching all of these people just get wiped off the face of the earth, whatever earth that might be, while he's sitting pretty in his helicopter or his black hawk or his fighter jet or his god damned puddle jumper.
So he hates her for that one second because she has no idea what he's going through this very moment, how many faces he's seeing that have slipped through his fingers, how many times he's seen this, over and over and over, because this is war and he's seen war and he's been in the middle of a war, and god, he can't take this much longer because the guilt is weighing on him so hard he thinks one night he might just suffocate from it.
And that's when it hits him. That she does get it. That out of everyone, Teyla gets this the most. That's exactly why he hates her.
And that's exactly why he stops.