Birthday Illusions:

He was groggy as hell and he was pretty sure that his entire body was battered and bruised. He couldn't remember the events that had led up to him waking up in the infirmary back on Atlantis but was extremely glad that he had. His eyes struggled to open and the world around him was blurry but he was home safe and sound. He glanced slowly to find the beds next to him were thankfully empty which meant that the rest of his team were not as unfortunate as himself.

John Sheppard was about to smile to himself and drift back to sleep when he saw an all too familiar figure come strolling up to him. His hazel eyes opened wide with painful recognition and he fought the urge to start kicking and screaming for the lovely image coming towards him couldn't possibly be real.

Elizabeth Weir stopped and gracefully sat down in the small space next to his legs and took his right hand in her left and smiled serenely at him. She was wearing her trademark red t-shirt and uniform trousers, her dark curls falling around her and those green eyes looking at him like he was the only thing in the universe.

He coughed abruptly and found it hurt his already abused rib cage. John tried to pull his hand away from hers and sit up but found he had no strength to fight against her.

"Not real." He managed to croak out and his throat was burning from protest of being used without so much as a glass water to throw down it first.

She chuckled lightly and gently lifted his hand up into her lap and started to caress it with her thumb. A friendly gesture, one they had found themselves doing whenever either one of them was in the infirmary. Her eyes gleamed and she continued to smile at him taking pleasure in the alone time they had.

"I'm real." She spoke softly just barely above a whisper and laughed a little at his weary state. "Can't just keep yourself out of trouble can you?" She joked lightly and gripped his hand with both of hers as if trying to tether herself to him.

John didn't believe her for it was just impossible for her to be standing there in front of him. He must have hit his head harder than he thought. "You're dead." He groaned out eventually and suddenly felt his stomach drop when her eyes darkened and she stopped smiling at him. Real or not he didn't like seeing Elizabeth upset.

Silence befell on them and he didn't know if it was minutes or years before she finally looked away for a moment and sighed heavily. "I suppose I am." Her voice was suddenly heavy and filled with too many emotions for him to decipher in his current state.

He enjoyed looking at her; even though she wasn't his Elizabeth it was damn too good to see his best friend alive and sitting beside him in Atlantis. Though he wondered why she appeared to him now when it had been months when he let her walk through the Gate in Fran's body.

"I came to wish you happy birthday." She answered his question and he realised that he had spoken it aloud. He tried to laugh at his stupidity but it caused too much pain and he didn't miss the way Elizabeth raised her hands away from his and tried to calm him down before any of the medical staff came to check on him.

When he finally stopped and took the time to work out today's date he found that it was indeed his birthday. He looked at her perplexed at the idea that he had imagined her here now at this very specific time. When he hadn't imagined her up for his previous birthday when she'd first gone missing.

"I'm sorry." A simple statement but the weight behind it felt like a life time of confessions. He didn't care anymore why or even how she was sitting next to him, holding his hand. She was here with him and after so long of not seeing her face, her strength to keep him going he was going to drown himself in this moment and never resurface.

The pain in his heart that had slowly eaten away at him when he abandoned her to die on the Asuran planet felt a little less hollow now.

"John, don't. It wasn't your fault." Hearing her say his name was heaven to his ears. He hadn't truly recognised the magnitude of how much he had missed her until this moment. He wondered briefly if maybe she had lived longer would something have happened between them? Everyone else on their team had paired up and he was left alone, so it made sense.

He didn't respond to that because he didn't believe that for one second. Of course it was his fault; he never should have taken her there with them. Or perhaps he should've just listened to her in the first place and never launched the missiles to begin with. He couldn't look her in the eyes anymore so he just stared at their intertwined hands, relishing the softness of her skin.

Another eternity in silence passed and he felt the words leaving his mouth by their own accord. "I just want to be forgiven." A stupid notion he knew considering it was his own imagination that had brought her to him. Still he needed her to say it even if it was false, then maybe he could justify having her death on his hands.

But as always in life, death and imagination Elizabeth Weir surprised him by saying "By who?"

His hazel eyes snapped up to find her green ones challenging him and John found that he had no words to fight back with. She was the only one who could defuse him like this, make him feel like a helpless child once again. It only brought back the pain of her absence for she wouldn't be doing it again and he only had himself to blame.

"I just let you die." His eyes stung but he stubbornly fought back the urge to let the tears form let alone fall down his cheeks. His hand clutched hers tightly and the words he kept locked away were finally flying free from his lips and it was blissful anguish. "I failed to protect you. I should have just listened to you in the beginning and then you wouldn't have paid the price for my mistakes."

"I never blamed you." Her voice soft as silk and she let go of his hand and she slowly stood up and leaned over him. "Not once." She placed her hands on his shoulders and gently kissed his forehead. Her eyes were pleading with him to understand that she didn't need to forgive him; he had to do it himself.

"Where are you going?" He watched her as she pulled away from him, her words sinking in but it felt like a final goodbye. She was smiling at him again and he knew then that he wasn't going to see her again.

"I don't know." She shrugged as if it didn't matter and she was turning away from him.

"Wait." He tried to sit up again and reached out to her and surprisingly she stopped and clasped her hand in his. "Don't leave me alone." John doesn't know if he means just today or if he's talking on a more personal level. He has always felt this strange deep connection to Elizabeth and he's not sure he can let it ago ever again.

"You're not alone John." She speaks as though it's the most obvious thing in the world and releases their hands and turns away from him and starts to walk towards the exit of the infirmary.

He hears the voices of his team members walking into the infirmary and is astonished to see the Elizabeth just walks straight past them with a knowing smile gracing her lips and simply stands in the doorway. His friends are oblivious to her ever being there and for a split second he questions his own sanity. They are looking at him with surprise and relief but he can't hear a word they're saying as he's just staring at Elizabeth as she's watches them all for a moment.

She seems happy at just watching them all around him telling him what happened and the funny jokes of Rodney doing something incredibly stupid to try and save the day. He can't help but smile brightly back at her and his friends just think nothing of it.

Her eyes glisten over very briefly as she mouths the words "Happy birthday" and her smile falters as she turns away for the final time and vanishes into a mysterious white light.

His eyes widen and he's laughing even though it hurts because she was real and he hadn't imagined her at all. He slumps back into the pillows and his friends all look alarmed and Keller starts to examine him.

"Thank you." He whispers as he drifts off back to sleep.

A/N: So this popped into my head randomly and thought I would share it with all of you. I've always loved the idea that Elizabeth ascended and maybe watched over Atlantis and her friends. Anyway let me know what you think! I will hopefully be updating Stranded shortly as I was writing chapter 7 when this interrupted me.