"Teyla!" Stephen was at her side in a flash, the doctor in him immediately reaching to take her pulse, while the soul that held her dearer than his own life, experienced a depth of fear like none that he had ever known. She had suddenly passed out cold, her skin cool and clammy to the touch, her breathing shallow, her pulse thready. Certainly she was in shock after everything that she'd been through, but Stephen had to wonder if her reaction was part of the spell she had been under-and if there were further, more deadly complications in store. Or even if her life force had become entangled somehow with the vile creature he had just beheaded.

In just a few moments more, he had enclosed them in the safety of the Mirror Dimension, taking care to encompass the severed head as well. Though Hades' forces had fallen into disarray around them once Stephen had struck that fatal blow, the madness and confusion among them could prove just as deadly as an organized attack.

Teyla whimpered softly, her eyes darting back and forth beneath her lids in something resembling REM sleep, so that Stephen laid a soothing hand upon her brow. It's alright, baby," he murmured, bending close to let his face hover over hers, "You're safe now...I promise...just please...please come back to me." Cloak tightened around his shoulders, offering what encouragement it could.

Several excruciating moments more passed; he knew he must act quickly to dispose of Hades' head exactly as Teyla had instructed, but all that mattered to him now was her well-being. She drew a sudden gasp and began to tremble, but Stephen was relieved to see her eyes fly open. He could've sworn he saw a flash of crimson red in their depths, which faded as quickly as it appeared. And then they were simply her soft, brown does-eyes again, filled with the same kindness and mercy which had allowed her to see into his soul from their very first meeting. She laid her hand against his cheek, studying his face as though seeing him anew. "Beloved." How tired she sounded, how weak and worn, though she smiled softly as she came back to herself. "You came for me...my love...my life..."

Stephen breathed out hard as the knot of anxiety in his chest loosened a bit, while he blinked back tears of relief. "Yes, honey. I'll always come for you. You know that, don't you? He pressed a gentle kiss to her palm where it rested against his face. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired. So very tired, my love. And eager to be home." She drew a long sigh, then added, "Where I hope to sleep at least a day and night away, in the safety of your arms."

Seeing her sweetness untainted by the assault that she had suffered, he felt as though further weight had fallen from his shoulders. That's my Teyla. "Do you think you can sit up now, honey?"

She nodded, although she waited until he slid an arm beneath her to help her up. "Stephen, I will be fine for now," she sought to assure him, "But you must dispose of the creature's head before it regains awareness. I promise I will be safe within the Mirror Dimension as you attend to this task-for time is of the essence."

Knowing she was right didn't make it any easier for him. "I don't want to leave you, honey-but I think I've got a quick solution for now." With the barest nod, he had Cloak lift off from his shoulders and settle around Teyla's to support her when he left her side. "I'm going to conjure a pocket dimension and stash the head there for now. Once I get you back to Kamar-Taj, I'll retrieve it and do exactly as you told me. Toss it into the hottest fire I can find."

"As you wish, my love," she shivered, so that Cloak wrapped her up completely in it's embrace. "But be swift, Stephen-I could not ascertain how long we have until Hades comes into his power again."

He laid a lingering kiss upon her brow, then turned to the work at hand. Stephen used a simple charm to levitate the head, reasoning it would be tempting fate to touch it; he then created a clear, impenetrable bubble around it, strong enough to resist most dark magic of which he was aware. Lastly, he deposited it in a pocket dimension, only slightly larger than the bubble itself. Just in time too-for in his final look at the head before he tucked the pocket away, Hades' rheumy eyes had opened and bored directly into his own.

Stephen had brought Teyla directly to the infirmary at Kamar-Taj, immediately taking charge of her medical treatment, She had been badly dehydrated and had also suffered several cracked ribs and contusions on her shoulders, arms, and legs. Those bruises ran well more than skin deep, and it was clear to even those Healers wielding the most advanced curative charms that it would be some time for the damage to completely heal. Leaving Stephen to wish-very uncharacteristically-that he could have had the chance to visit true pain on Hades before he had taken him down.

Teyla had remained mute when he tried to ask her about the details of what the foul beast had done to her, though her silent tears and the pain in her eyes were testament enough to break his heart. Stephen suspected she was trying to protect him, perhaps even using her gift to read the mix of anger and guilt contending for dominance within him, and doing what she could to alleviate it. He had to hope that at some point she would unburden herself to someone, if not to him, rather than keep that pain bottled up inside.

Once Stephen was satisfied that Teyla's physical health was beginning to improve, he had stepped back enough to allow those Masters whose expertise lay in the mystical healing disciplines of the mind and psyche to lead the way. They had asked him to give them time with Teyla alone, and he had grudgingly obliged-his first act when he left the confines of the infirmary, to burn the red dress that represented everything his beloved had suffered. Was still suffering. He had not felt this impotent since the days when the medical alternatives to fix his hands had dwindled down to none.

"She's exhausted, Stephen. Physically, emotionally, and psychically. Teyla needs time to heal, and it's best she does so here..."

Stephen was pacing the floor, as he'd done for much of the past several days, while the Healers of Kamar-Taj had continued treating Treyla for the traumas she had suffered in captivity. But that morning she had asked him to take her to their cabin at the foot of the mountains, telling him that all she wanted was to be with him in the place where their love had finally found fulfillment. The concensus of the chief Healers held that it was still too soon to move her offsite.

Master Isumo delivered her prognosis in a hushed and sympathetic tone. "I understand your impatience, Stephen. But in this case I have to overrule you. These nightmares she's been having could be more than PTSD. Given her empathetic abilities, and that she used them on Hades as you told us, we can't rule out that some...residue...of whatever magic he used to control her, remains."

"If that's the case, what can you do about it?" He tried not to sound as anxious as he felt; it wouldn't do for one of the leading Masters of the Mystic Brotherhood to be seen on the verge of panic.

"We don't have a lot of precedent for this sort of malady, Stephen," Isamu reminded him, "There are charms and tinctures we can try...will try...and failing those, we'll have to resort to a psychic healing circle. Which requires a minimum of seven Master Healers on hand to be effective."

Stephen ran a hand through his hair, frustrated but accepting that there was no other known alternative to spare his Teyla her suffering. "Please, Isamu, there's gotta be something I can do to help."

Master Isamu tried to look hopeful, "Of course there is. Do exactly what you've been doing since you brought Teyla home to us. Sit with her. Stay with her. Hold her. Remind her how much she means to you, and that even this horror will pass."

"Right," Stephen muttered, resigning himself to his own sense of uselessness, praying that tonight as he held her, Teyla would at last begin to find the peace and healing she deperately needed.

"Believe me, Stephen," Isamu concluded, before leaving his quarters for the night, "Your love will make all the difference in the world for her."

Later, watching his gentle, loving woman whimper as she tossed and turned in the grip of a terrible dream, Stephen began to worry that even all the love he bore for her might not be enough to be the difference she needed.