* * * *
The nightmare is always the same, no matter if I'm on a mission or on Atlantis. I see Elizabeth standing in the hallway, surrounded by the replicators, her face anguished telling us no, screaming at Ronon and I to go, to leave her there.
I sighed deeply, recalling when the nightmares became part of my life, part of my nights since the gate closed over them - the replicators. Every time I woke up in a sweat with the need to check her quarters.
From my spot on the balcony, I can see the moons over Atlantis, our home. After three weeks, the nightmares are always the same.
If only. If only, what.... we hadn't looked for her in the first place? If Ronon hadn't caught me and dragged me out of there? If Rodney hadn't reactivated the nanites?
I sighed again; with 'what ifs' you could remake the world, but once you open your eyes, everything is still the same.
My gaze shifts to the end of the pier where I see a lonely silhouette working out with a sword - Ronon.
It's around 3 am earth time. And neither he nor I could sleep. I wonder why. I continue to look at the horizon, the sound of the waves lapping at the city taking my mind away.
* * * *
The first time I met her was in Antarctica when I brought General O'Neill to the Outpost. I remember how she looked at me when I sat in the Chair. How easily I could project our position, and everything McKay asked me then.
I remember when the Stargate closed behind us as we arrived in the city. How the city would wake up under my feet and how after we finally settled in, Elizabeth would walk with me just to hear the city awaken under our feet. I shook my head, she won't be doing that anymore.
I looked at Ronon; he had stopped training and was now sitting on the floor, his sword displayed before him, and he too was looking at the ocean. I remembered how I convinced her to get him onto my team. It wasn't a big challenge. She kinda adopted him the minute he saw his devastated world on the screen. I felt it. She didn't approve of my choice immediately. No, she let me defend my opinion. And at the end, she said yes. Telling me long after at dinnertime how Ronon was now my responsibility. I nodded.
Today, we are still the only team with two off-world people on it. I can't imagine my team otherwise. Ronon is our power, McKay our genius, Teyla ... I sighed. Teyla is our grace, our conscience, so we don't forget our own. Since Torren, she's even more than that; she's the cement between us. She's the one who makes all of this bearable, she gives us hope.
I close my eyes and Fran/Elizabeth popped into my head, not really her but more her look, Well, her eyes on me just before she stepped through the gate.
We still haven't closed that chapter. I can't close it. It hurts too much.
I checked with Woolsey and Rodney a few days ago to see if we could bring her back. Woolsey told us the IOA haven't still agreed. Rodney told him it was a question of days; it's already been too long. Woolsey's pained look gave us our answer. Despite the fact we couldn't bring her home with us, Rodney and I took a jumper and went to the gate we sent her through. It was after the debriefing from our last mission; we asked Woolsey if we could test the last reparations on Jumper 5. Woolsey didn't complain, and let us pass the gate to the Alpha site. Once there, we dialed the Space gate to check on them, like we did almost every time we have a jumper to test. Lately we had a lot more run tests than necessary, and if Woolsey knew something he never said a word. Thanks for small favors.
Each time we got power signatures from them. Last week we only got three of them, and Elizabeth was one of those.
Yesterday, we didn't get anything, anything at all. In a stupid move, we closed the bulkhead door and like for Niam, we opened the rear hatch and pulled her back in. McKay waited impatiently at the door for the rear compartment to be pressurized again, and I hadn't given the mental order to open the door that he was already through.
I needed to put the jumper in automatic mode for a few moments before I could give him a hand. I don't know why but I felt a coldness wrapping around me and had difficulty breathing. I turned around and saw Rodney's lost look, his hand on top of her head, not moving. Not moving at all.
I pulled the jumper into automatic mode, thanks to Rodney's new program and walked to them.
I remembered his look - hollow, empty, eyes full of angst. I'd never seen him this lost, not even when we were in a really bad situation.
He looked at me, and uttered, "There's nothing anymore."
I frowned. What did he just say? Like he'd read my thoughts he turned his scanner to me. Everything was flat lined.
"Are you sure?"
Rodney nodded. He checked once again, and again, and again. He went to the console as I knelt near her, turned the heat up and we waited for a moment. It must have been longer than we thought because the gate was activated and Jumper Two with Major Lorne, Ronon and Teyla came through.
Lorne's voice finally grabbed my attention, "Colonel, do you read?"
"Yeah," I answered after a while, looking over at McKay one more time to get a nod from him.
"Colonel, this is Teyla, we were concerned. Mr. Woolsey asked us to come and check on you because you didn't check in and you were gone over six hours."
I sighed. Of course, he was concerned, and you don't test a jumper for that long.
"How, how did you find us?" I asked into the comm.
"The Alpha Site told us the gate you dialed. They were concerned too," Major Lorne replied softly.
"Any news?" asked Ronon.
I looked over at McKay. I don't know when he opened the medical kit and wrapped the survival cover over her body. I watched how he spread it over her, taking care of her hair. He was finishing covering her face when I moved and grabbed his hand.
He frowned and looked at me, "Wait," I murmured one more time. "You sure?" I asked him, looking at her features, she looked so peaceful.
He nodded, not able to say a single word, tears pooling in his eyes, barely able to contain them.
I looked down at her body. My left hand reached out and, oblivious to my surroundings, I leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. Letting my lips touch her skin. I closed my eyes, her skin so cold. "I ... I wish I could ... have saved you." I inhaled deeply; "I wish I could have ..." I stopped. "'Lizabeth, I'm so...." I swallowed, unable to finish this sentence and brushed invisible hair from her face, "If only I could go back in time, I would. I swear I would," I whispered against her ear. "I would do ..." I laughed heartbrokenly, "I told Teyla once, that I would do anything for either of you, think I failed that one with you."
I closed my eyes tighter to fight my tears, hands turning into fists. I let out a shaky breath, "I wanted to, without you, I'm not sure where I would be now. I ..."
I looked at her body, her face, and with a shaky hand I pulled the blanket over her face. I stood up and walked passed a stunned Rodney. I closed the bulkhead door, grabbed the commands and opened the rear hatch. I turned the Jumper around as Elizabeth's body, wrapped in its blanket, moved into space, her final place to rest in peace.
Without another word, Rodney dialed the gate back to the Alpha Site and from here back to Atlantis. We parked the Jumper and I was out before Rodney or anyone else could talk to me. I went straight to my quarters and closed the door. A mental order and the chime was disabled, another one, and no one could override the door. I rushed to the bathroom and slid down the wall.
It didn't took me long to hear banging at my door, and voices outside. No doubt, Rodney, Ronon and Teyla were there. I even suspect Major Lorne was with them.
I heard them trying to open the door. I heard Ronon order McKay to do something, anything to "open that goddamn door."
I took a deep breath and stood up on shaky legs. I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw. I closed my eyes, pushing away all my emotions and went to the door. A command and it opened just as Ronon was trying to pound on it again.
"We ... hum... you ..." stuttered Rodney.
Teyla looked at me with pained eyes, "We are concerned. You took off without a word."
I sighed, "Teyla ... it's ..."
I look over at Lorne; it was easier to deal with the military staff, than with my team who were also my friends, "I'm all right, go and make your report to Mr. Woolsey. If he needs me, I'm here." Lorne nodded and left without another word.
"It's just like that?" asked Ronon.
"Yeah, it's just like that," I answered, understanding his question too well. He looked at me closely and finally turned around too.
Teyla looked from Rodney to me and finally settled her gaze on me, "Colonel, if you need anything, I'm in my quarters."
I nodded once. I heard her sigh and she left too. Rodney was still standing in front of me, shifting from one foot to another, "Do you need anything more?"
He shook his head, "I never should have ..."
"Shut up, I don't want to hear anything. I don't want to hear we could or should have done anything differently. Don't you think I know that?"
Rodney looked at me, eyes wide. I took a deep breath and tiredly said, "Go to your quarters, rest, work ... I shrug, we have tomorrow off, so..."
"So? That's all? That's all that you're gonna say? Maybe we should....I don't know. I can always try to create another power source,"
"I can try to... Wait! I think I have a prototype ..."
He stopped and looked at me, "She's dead, Rodney. There's nothing left, nothing. You saw that too. You checked, you even triple checked, and you didn't find a single nanites with power."
He nodded, suddenly aware of the truth. His shoulders hunched as he walked slowly away from my door. I stepped back inside and closed it once more, making sure all the controls were disabled. I walked to the depths of my room to a crate placed under my desktop. I opened it and grabbed the earthenware pot I had given Elizabeth so long ago. I looked at it for a longtime, and finally put it on my desk.
I activated my comm, "Sheppard to McKay, come in." After a few seconds, I heard a pained, "Yeah."
I sighed deeply, "When you created Fran, was she immunized against the A.R.G?"
"Humm.... Why do you ask?"
"Was she?" I pushed.
"I don't know."
"Wait!" Whatever McKay had to say has to wait for tomorrow or another day.
A gust of wind reminded me that it's too early in the morning to stay here. I look back to the end of the pier, Ronon isn't there anymore. I look at my watch; it's past 4 am. I walk back into the room, grab my clothes and finally step into the bathroom. It's time to do something.
* * * *
Thirty minutes later, Colonel John Sheppard is in the mess grabbing some breakfast. Watching the comings and goings of everyone on board.
Some were finishing their night shift, some were beginning their journey.
He had a book with him and read over the pages until it was late enough to speak to Woolsey.
* * * *
"Colonel, you know I can't give you the permission..." answered Woolsey as I paced in front of his desk.
I ran my hands through my hair, "I don't want your permission, I want your authorization to take a jumper, an ARG, and head to a world where's no life signs have been recorded for the last three years..."
"Like Sateda?" he asked, dumbfounded.
"Yeah, like Sateda. No people, no Wraith anymore. A planet I know because I went there with Ronon when he brought back some stuff after he killed the wraith that made him a runner. I know where the gate is. I get through, open the cover, do my thing, and come back."
"And if the ARG doesn't work?" Woolsey asked me with a contrite look.
"It will work," I heard from behind me. Woolsey looked over my shoulder and frowned as he asked, "How do you know that, Dr McKay?"
"When we dialed Earth last night to make our report, I talked with Colonel Carter and she gave me another wave length in case the one we have won't work."
Woolsey and I nodded. "Well, in that case, I don't see why you can't go," finished Woolsey reluctantly, standing up and heading to the door.
"Good." I'm about to leave Woolsey's office when I hear Rodney say, "We're going with you."
I stopped and turned around, face blank, "No! No one is coming with me."
"Why? Why not? You think you are going alone? That you are the only one suffering? Do you think you are the only one who lost a friend?" McKay cried in my face. I turned around as he tried to pass me. I grabbed his arms and leaned into him, my mouth near his ear.
"You want to come with me? Huh? Then what? Do you think you will be able to watch me pull the trigger? Or do you want to do it yourself?"
I felt him shudder where I held him and saw him pale as my words sank in. He looked at me with wide open eyes, and shook his head once. I nodded, telling him without words that I understood his decision. Yeah, it won't be pretty at all. And I can't ask him to come with me or to help me do it. No one can do it. I looked back at Woolsey and headed out.
One hour later, alone in the jumper, I waited for the 'ready to go' from the control room. First I went to the alpha site, and then to the space gate.
It didn't take me long to see her body in the shroud made with the survival cover. I closed the bulkhead door, opened the rear hatch and put her in. It took me less than ten minutes to do all this then I didn't waste any time dialing Sateda.
Once through the gate I cloaked the Jumper, then a quick scan told me there were no life signs on the planet. I landed the cloaked Jumper near the gate. I opened the door and was almost afraid to see her standing there smiling at me.
I closed my eyes a brief instant, opened them. No, she wasn't, her body was still on the floor. I checked with the manual scanner and the computer Rodney gave me to see if there was any vital sign. Not even a faint vibe, not a nanite was vibrating. She "died" faster than Niam had. Rodney expected that, but had somehow hoped he wasn't right.
I open the shroud. She still looked peaceful; her body was damaged. I opened the blanket, making sure she was on it. I walked to the co-pilot's seat and grabbed the two ARGs, and the earthenware pot I took with me.
I put it on the floor and grabbed the first ARG, the one with the old frequency, the one the Azurans had overridden quickly, when we went there to rob them of a ZPM.
I aimed the weapon and pointed it to her body. And then nothing, I was frozen in place. I couldn't fire it. I couldn't, I simply couldn't fire it. I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes, took a better grip on the ARG, pointed and my hands began to shake. I sat on the bench in the rear compartment and closed my eyes.
"Get to the jumper!"
"You're coming with us!"
A small shake of her head, "I can't keep them frozen much longer!"
"We are not leaving you behind!" I told her sternly.
"If you don't leave right now, none of us will get out of here, so go." She turned her head slightly towards me and finally said, "THAT'S AN ORDER!"
She never should have turned toward me because it broke her concentration and Oberoth lowered his hand and the replicators began to move. I remember Ronon grabbed me around the waist to make me move and urged me, "Come on!!"
I looked one more time at her, and cried in anguish, "Elizabeth!"
She turned around and looked at me, her eyes so expressive, showing everything she had in her gaze, "Go!"
* * * *
I sighed deeply, eyes still closed.
"If Ronon hadn't pulled you away, you would have died with me."
I opened my eyes. Sitting on the bench on the other side of the compartment was Elizabeth, dressed in a red shirt and her conventional BDU.
I frowned, rubbing my hand over my face, "You should be dead."
"I think I am," she answered me with a smile.
"What, how ... do you ...?" I struggled to get the words out.
She stood up and moved to sit next to me. Reaching up she put a finger on my mouth, "Shhhh ..."
I looked into her eyes, shining with tears, "John, you have to do it. You have to do what you were coming for. You can't go on this way."
"You have to," she whispered, "because if you don't, you won't be able to move on."
"I don't want to move on," I replied, looking at the floor, my brain still trying to figure out how she could possibly be there when her physical body was gone so long ago.
"If I do this, I will lose you forever," I whispered back, feeling a single tear escaping my eyes.
She smiled, and shook her head, "No, you won't because I'm still here." She reached out to me and placed her hand over my heart. "John, you cannot change what happened that day, just as I cannot change the day I chose to come to Atlantis, or the way I decided to protect the people I love. You know that I'm still there ... inside you. You know it and that's what makes it so difficult."
I shook my head, trying to protest against her words.
"John, look at me." I lifted my eyes, to lock with hers, "I ... we ..."
"No, you don't," I shouted suddenly "You don't know, you don't know the feeling, you don't know the ache. We don't leave anyone behind, and we left you 'Lizabeth, we left you. We betrayed you the worst way possible, we left you."
"No, you didn't, I chose to stay. I chose to protect you. I was the one making the decision, not you. You didn't leave me, I ordered you to go."
"I shouldn't have," I replied stubbornly.
She smiled and answered, "Yes, you should and you did, and I thank you for this because you are still here and alive."
I shook my head, "But you aren't anymore, and I can't ..."
"What?" she inquired softly.
"I can't tell you ..." I stumbled on the words.
"Yes, you can," she said, her voice just above a whisper.
"I ... loved you ..." I uttered softly.
"I know and I think I knew from the start, but you have to do what you were coming to do. Because like I said I will still be here," she reached out to my heart, and then moved to my head, "and here."
I nodded once.
"Promise me, you won't forget me, John."
"I won't," I replied, shaking my head to tell her it wouldn't happen.
"Good. Then you can do it, I'm ready."
I looked up at her as she moved from her place near me to stand just above Fran/Elizabeth's body. I stood up too and grabbed her arm, pulling her toward me. As the motion pulled her to my body, she turned her head to look at me, opening her mouth to admonish me. But I wrapped my mouth over hers and swallowed every protest she could make. The kiss was soft and tender. I pulled her even closer to me. She grasped my back and hugged me tight. I felt my eyes watering.
"It's gonna be all right, John, just pull the trigger. Do it," she whispered against my ear.
I shook my head. She hugged me tighter and whispered, "I love you too."
* * * *
The sound of a blast of energy made me open my eyes. I was standing above what should have been Fran/Elizabeth's body, but there were only pieces of neutronium on the blanket. I looked around. I was alone, and the ARG weapon had worked.
I sat on the bench and grabbed my head in my hands, looking at what used to be Elizabeth. I took the pot and began to collect the pieces to store them when I heard, "You did good, John Sheppard. Thank you." When I lifted my eyes and looked around the Jumper I was still alone.
The blanket was clean; I'd put everything in the pot. I covered it with the lid and put it carefully in the backpack I brought with me. I looked around once more and shook my head; I still wondered what had happened. I took my place in the pilot seat and dialed a safe space gate and from there I dialed the Alpha Site and finally Atlantis.
It took me fifteen minutes to head back home. When I arrived, Woolsey was standing in the gate room. I nodded once; he nodded back and headed to his office.
As always, I parked the Jumper in the bay and headed out, just as Rodney, Ronon and Teyla stepped through the door.
I gave the scanner and computer back to Rodney and took the backpack with me. I didn't say a word and they didn't ask me anything. I can't thank them enough for that.
They didn't follow me either.
I reached my quarters and put the pot on my desk. I sat on the chair and looked at the pot. We should have done more for her. We never should have given up so easily after we found our replicates. The moment we came home, the decision was made to ship her personal items home. We didn't have a ceremony or anything, we packed her things and they were sent back with the Daedalus. The only items we kept were the Atosian pot I offered her for her first birthday here in Atlantis and the little Buddhas from her desk.
* * * *
I closed my eyes, trying to wrap my mind around what happened in that Jumper. I'm sure she was there with me. I'm sure of it; I still can feel her lips on mine. I let the feeling wash over me, a sense of guilt and peace spreading through my veins. I can't understand why, but behind the guilt, I'm at peace. And I shouldn't be. I tried to rest, shower and even work. But after what seemed to be hours of trying to understand what happened in that Jumper I finally gave up and headed for the gym.
* * * *
When I arrived, the marines were already training with Teyla and Ronon. As I stepped into the room, everyone stopped. I looked at them and gestured for them to continue.
Teyla is on one side of the room, training the new female recruits, and Ronon is with the older staff. I see Evan learning a new move. I have to smile. I already know it. Not easy that one. As I expected, Ronon stopped Evan's movement, "No, not that way." He adjusted the arm, "This way."
Same error I did repeatedly; must be the marine training. Can't find any other explanation because all people who aren't marines are able to do it correctly. Evan nodded once and repeated the movement until he got it right.
The training session was finally over and Teyla and Ronon were going to spar together. I took the sticks and began to exercise alone. I looked at how they sparred together and listened to their breathing. They moved like they were dancing, a long, slow and efficient dance.
I continued to exercise alone, twirling the stick like Teyla taught me, adding movement Ronon taught me. I didn't realize they'd stopped until I reached a point where I could stop myself. I looked around and Teyla was meditating as Ronon was waiting for me.
I moved my sticks to him and Ronon nodded. In one swift move, he was near me. We began to spar and I was able to efficiently disarm Ronon of one of his sticks. He looked astonished for a moment but he recovered rapidly, and fought me back with only one stick. He pushed me back. I almost lost a stick, but I tightened my grip and fought back. I felt a surge of anger run through me and I fought Ronon back with all I had. I countered every one of his blows, adding my force into the one I delivered. At one point I had him in retreat, and fought him back. I pushed him back again and again. I saw out of the corner of my eye that Teyla stood up and looked at us, a frown on her face. I lifted my sticks and shattered them against the one Ronon was using to protect himself. Ronon's stick broke in two and I was about to lash out with another blow when I looked at his face. Utter astonishment greeted me. I opened my hands and let my sticks fall to the floor and held my hands up in surrender.
I walked backwards as Teyla began to walk toward me, "Colonel?"
"I ... I ..." I turned around and walked out of the gym. The situation reminded me too much of when I was under the influence of the Iratus Bug poison and sparred with Teyla who was suddenly overpowered. I remembered the way I couldn't control any of my feelings.
I knew what I had to do, so I ran to the infirmary and to Carson who was in the city for a short time. As soon as I spotted him, I walked to him and in a whisper urged him, "Carson, I need your help."
Carson looked up from his computer, a frown on his face. No wonder. I was sweaty and must look rather distressed, "Colonel, what can I do for you?"
"Hum, I need you to run some tests on me," I pressed.
"Tests? Did you do something you shouldn't have?"
I shook my head and pressed, "I need you to take a full scan and check if there's any nanites in my body and then test my blood for any retrovirus or anything strange...."
Carson frowned and looked at me again, "Did you just say ...?"
"Yeah, I just said what you think I said. I need you to check this and check it quickly, please?"
Still frowning, Carson nodded. He finally surrendered and gestured to the scanner, "Ok lad, lie here so we can run these tests."
I nodded, and hopped on the scanner bed, waiting for Carson to tell me the results. Once the scanner finished, I looked over at Carson and waited, "Well, what's the verdict?"
"I have to say there's no nanites in your system, Colonel," Carson stated, after looking at the screen.
"I'm sure. Why are you so determined to know if there's any nanites in your body?"
"Well, I spent some time alone in a Jumper with ... and I touched her, it, her ... well, you know what I mean." Carson nodded. I passed my hand over my face, and continued, "Well and I kinda, well, I disarmed Ronon, and made him retreat under my attacks. It's never happened before and the last time it happened I was infected." I finished just above a whisper, shuddering at the thought.
Carson looked stunned for a moment, and then smiled at me, "Well, I can assure you there's ..."
Carson was interrupted by the general communication system from the city, "Colonel Sheppard, please report to the control room."
I shook my head, looking pleadingly at Carson. He nodded and I was relieved when he took over, "Control room, this is Carson; Colonel Sheppard is under my care at the infirmary. He can't report for the next ..." he looked over at me and added with a smile, "few hours. Carson, out."
I smiled gratefully at him. He lifted my sleeve and locked the tourniquet on my arms and drew some blood. In fact, a lot of blood - three tubes.
"Colonel, I suggest you make yourself comfortable. There's a bed in the back away from any disturbances. It's protected so you don't need to put scrubs on. Maybe a little rest would be a good idea."
I nodded and headed to the back of the infirmary when I heard footsteps and Rodney asking, "Carson, where is he?"
I hurried to the end of the infirmary behind the last curtain and sat on the bed, listening to the conversation going on in the main area.
"I can't tell you," Carson answered in his most professional voice.
I heard Rodney humph, and smiled when I heard Carson reply, "You know the rules, Rodney. Every person here is under my care and if I say you cannot see him, then you can't."
"We understand, Carson but we are here to give him support," Teyla told them.
"I know, love, but still..."
I heard someone pacing. Must be Ronon without a doubt. It's confirmed when I hear him ask, "Doc, if it's because I did something I should not have...?"
"I don't think it's something you did, big guy," Carson replied softly.
"Doc, if this has something to do with what happened at the gym, he does not have to feel responsible," continued Ronon.
"No, no, I assure you, it has nothing to do with that."
"Wait, wait. What happened during the gym session?" McKay asked hurriedly.
I heard Carson sigh and then he said in his most professional voice, "Rodney, I don't think this is any of your concern." I smiled because if someone could make Rodney silent, it was Carson. Even if Carson was not our Carson, he's still our Carson. If that makes any sense. I stopped trying to understand it a long time ago when we pulled him out of the stasis chamber and he became a part of our life again.
"He's here, so he is our concern," shouted Rodney back at Carson. Hidden behind my curtain I had to smile. Rodney wasn't someone who could express concern easily except when it came to the members of our team. It was something else - like he became another person, a person who only wants to protect us. Strange how you can misunderstand a person when you don't know them properly.
"Rodney, I can't possibly tell you what happened."
"Doesn't matter, we're sticking around. So, if he needs us we're here. We won't disturb you; we'll hang out in this area." I can picture him gesturing around the left side of the infirmary with the temporary beds, empty for the moment.
"Rodney?" Carson sighed desperately.
"Here and we won't disturb you," Rodney finally stated in his voice that meant 'no need to argue with me, I made a decision, live with it'. I heard Carson sigh and I knew Rodney had won his argument. I heard rustling and furniture being moved and knew they were settling in for the night.
I decided Carson's advice wasn't that bad, after all and rest would be a good thing so I settled down for the night too.
* * * *
I woke up, hearing people talking. I couldn't make out the conversation but I was sure it was Rodney speaking to ... I couldn't figure it out. But I heard when he said, "I was sitting there in the Jumper when I found that code line, and I shared it with her. She was just as thrilled as me and we thought it would be good to alter their code one more time. I never should have insisted."
"What's done is done, McKay," I heard Ronon reply.
"I never should have... I never should have ..." I heard him hiccupping.
"Rodney, you are not responsible for this," Carson said.
"No, you don't understand. She was lying there on that bed, badly hurt. The city was a wreck, Sheppard was everywhere and nowhere at once, trying to keep us from certain death, and Jennifer was telling me we had to do something right now or she would die." I closed my eyes when I heard the anguish in his voice. "You were already gone, Carson, I didn't want to ..."
"You did not want to lose someone else from what you consider your family?" asked Carson softly.
I couldn't hear Rodney's answer. But I'm sure he was nodding because even I wasn't thrilled with his idea to reactivate the nanites in her body. When the door opened to that room and I saw her sitting on the bed, I can't deny I was overjoyed to see her alive again.
I never expected to lead her to her death.
I closed my eyes briefly because the next thing I knew, I heard the rustle from the curtain and heavy footsteps.
I didn't move and waited for the person to speak. It didn't take long. "Sheppard, listen. I'm not sure if you're awake or not..." It was Ronon. I should have known. I heard him hesitate and then he took a deep breath, "You know you can take your anger out on me when you want. You do not have to freak out and think ... well, I do not know what you thought, but you were wrong. I can take it."
I opened my eyes and looked over at him; he was moving a chair to sit at my bedside.
"Hey," I whispered.
He smiled and looked over his shoulder to check if the curtain was closed, "Well huh, like I said, you can always take your anger out on me."
"I'm not angry," I whispered back.
"Yeah, sure," he shook his head.
I looked over at him and gestured to the curtain, "Are they all right? I mean, did they sleep?"
Ronon nodded and gestured to me, asking me the same question, I sighed and replied, "Yeah, I slept, thanks to Beckett's little relaxant pill."
Ronon grinned, he knew the pills too. Carson only uses them on specific people - especially on him and me to make sure we relax and actually sleep when we are in recovery. After Carson we are the worst patients.
"You didn't say anything when you came back." I nodded at Ronon's words. What could I say? I wasn't ready to talk about it.
He cleared his throat, and looked at his hands, "You asked me once if I left someone on Sateda. I didn't reply and you asked me if it was a wife." Ronon stopped like he was trying to gather strength to finish what he was saying, so I finished for him. "And you said to me 'close enough'."
He nodded, "Yeah, that is what I said." He sighed, lifted his hand and tied his dreads together. I had to smile; he told us once he would cut them but he never did; now they are almost to the middle of his back. He looked over at me like he was reading my mind and said, "I should have cut them when Carson died, because that is what we do on Sateda...." He caught himself, "when a member of the family dies, but I could not. I didn't know how everyone here would take it so I didn't do anything." The floor must be interesting again because he focused on it as he continued in a deep voice. "When Elizabeth asked me to follow you on Earth I learned your customs for when someone dies and they are vastly different from mine and Teyla's." I nodded, I already knew that. He sighed again and continued. His voice even deeper, "I could not bury her properly or honor her properly either because, once the bomb exploded, it did not take long for the wraiths to descend on the hospital and take me prisoner. I escaped them and began to run, only to be caught a few days later. The rest you know." Ronon caught and shifted uneasily in front of me. I nodded and smiled at him, telling him without words to continue. He composed himself again and resumed his talking, "Huh, I... I do not know what you had with Elizabeth, but..." My eyes widened and I was going to reply when he smiled, "You must have been blind not to see anything. Or rather no one saw anything, but I observed a lot. She felt the same about you but would never have risked your position. I am sure of that."
I nodded because I knew that too.
Ronon closed his eyes and took a deep breath, "Anyway, I ... you ... we ... when you are ready to say good-bye, come and we will do something if you like." He stood up and was about to leave when I stopped him, "Ronon?" he turned and looked at me, "Thank you."
"You are welcome." He nodded and finally left.
I closed my eyes and let sleep overcome me again, thinking about what Ronon told me just before he left. I nodded to myself. Yeah, when I was ready - but that wasn't the case...for the moment.