Message In A Bottle

She was gone.

As the gate shut down and Rodney remarked that they knew whether or not it had been the real Elizabeth. All John could feel was this cold nothing. He had failed her on so many levels and now she was gone forever.

He was such a jerk to her as well.

'You may think you're Elizabeth. But you're not.' His own words echoed violently around his numbing head. It had hurt to speak them but how much more had it hurt her to hear them? He was the worst human in the known universe.

'You never leave people in the hands of the enemy. And the fact that we're having this conversation tells me you know damn well that's wrong!' His biting words when they first arrived here in Atlantis. It felt like another lifetime ago. Perhaps it was; for he couldn't really be the same person who spoke those words so passionately and then left her to die. Could he?

'You have to trust me.' She had said after they had first dealt with the nano virus. She had been wounded then that he didn't have faith in her but they didn't really know each other then. But now they did and he still didn't have faith in her until the very end.

'I think I know how to make this right.' Her words but not her voice had been defeated and he realised in that instant that she was still Elizabeth underneath all the Replicator parts.

But he didn't tell her; just watched her go without saying goodbye. They all had but somehow he felt like he owed her more than the others. For when she chose him for this mission she didn't just put his career back on track but his life as well. She saved him not only from the world but also from himself.

He hadn't so much as thanked her. Just assumed that she would always be around when he needed her and that he could silently tell her, prove to her everyday what she had done for him.

John doesn't remember the walk back to his quarters. His team departed all silently and went their separate ways. None of them wanted to speak, they all simply needed to mourn in their own manner.

When he enters his room and slumps down heavily onto his bed. He feels as though there is nothing left in him. He is an empty man and from tomorrow onwards he will open his eyes every morning and think of a reason to get out of bed. The only reason that will ever work will be 'it's what Elizabeth would want.'

His laptop is on which is strange because he doesn't remember leaving it on. He raises his hand to switch it off when he sees an email has been delivered and the sender is apparently Elizabeth. His eyes snap to attention at that and he flips his legs round to face the laptop fully as both excitement and dread fill his lungs with uncertainty.

With a click the screen opens up to a video recording and John would swear in this moment that his heart has stopped beating, his lungs no longer drawing breath. For on the screen an image of Elizabeth is sat in front of the camera. It's been so long since he's seen her, the real her, the one that haunts his nightmares and lingers always in his brightest memories.

She appears to look sad and resigned. She exhales and looks around for a second, clearly nervous and uncomfortable. Then her eyes, those green eyes he remembers so fondly are looking straight at him and he feels guilty because he now knows what this message is.

'Hello John.' Her voice is just as he recalls and he's impressed that she managed to get the computer to mimic it perfectly. "I was going to say something profound but-" she pauses as the corner of her lips twitch upwards slightly. "We know how that works out."

There's a lump forming in his throat and he doesn't want to watch anymore but he knows he will never have the strength to turn away from her.

"I guess I-" She's struggling for the right words and it pains him to see her so unsettled so out of her element. She looks down and sighs heavily. "This isn't what I wanted. I thought I would have more timeā€¦" She mumbles out and he can barely hear her but as her words reach his ears he knows that these are her true thoughts, no more masks to hide behind.

She looks at him again, a new resolve shining in her eyes. "I just wanted to say thank you John for everything." She smiles genuinely at him and it pulls his breaking heart apart. "You were always there when you know I needed support and even when I didn't. I drew my strength from you, my resolve to see things through came from you."

He looks away ashamed because he doesn't believe her, she was much better than him.

"John look at me." He does and he his amazed that she would know that he would look away. Just what had he let go of?

"I never blamed you. I'll never blame you for this."

How could she not? Why was she doing this to him? He couldn't allow her to forgive him he deserved far worse. Anything but this.

"I know you don't believe me. That you feel you'll never deserve it. But it's the truth, John."

Tears he didn't realised had formed fall freely down his cheeks and he makes no effort to wipe them away. After everything she is still saving him from himself. Why couldn't he have returned the favour?

"There's something else that I want to say but-" Her voice breaks and he finally loses all sense of the universe because he knows. God he knows and he wishes upon anything and everything that he could make it right and tell her.

"Forgive me but allow me this one thing." She is crying, a couple of tears. Too many and not enough but it is all there is. All there will ever be.

"You are everything to me, John. I think I may have fallen for you. Perhaps in another life we could of-" She stops herself before she can get carried away but the damage is done.

He knows how she felt, what they could have been. What they should have been. He raises his hand to the screen as if to caress her tears away.

"I know Elizabeth." He chokes out as he drinks it all in. " I love you too."

She smiles then as if she heard him and whispers.

"Goodbye."

A/N: So I wrote this because it was swimming around my head after Conclusion. I know it's sad but it's how imagined Elizabeth might have left messages to the team. She was in the computer after all. Anyway hope you all liked reading it. Let me know, it's much appreciated.