A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who's read and reviewed (or not reviewed and just read) this fic, here's the last chapter…hope you all enjoy what actually happens next tomorrow!
"You've got mail," Rodney's voice came from the direction of her doorway.
She looked at him in surprise. "Mail?"
"Yeah, Caldwell and his men brought it on the Daedalus," he said, throwing the letter down on her desk. "Just thought I'd hand it out."
"Why, thank you, Rodney," she said, sounding slightly surprise.
"I, uh, what did you want me to do with the mail for…you know…the ones that didn't make it?" he asked, a sullen tone, something she wasn't used to hearing from him.
She thought about it for a few moments before looking back up at him. "We'll keep them, and when we next have contact with Earth we'll ask the relatives what they want done with them."
Rodney nodded and turned around to leave, then stopped. "Oh…there was another letter for you from General O'Neill."
He dug through the bag slung around his shoulder that appeared to be full of letters and found what he was looking for, throwing it on the table with the other one.
"Thank you," she said.
As Rodney left she looked down at the two letters. Both handwritings were incredibly familiar to her, and she hesitated for a moment, wondering which letter to read first. General O'Neill's would most likely be business, but Simon's…
She picked it up and flipped it over, looking at the return address on the back. After a few moments of staring she opened it slowly, pulling the neatly folded paper out. It took her another few second before she could bring herself to unfold it and read.
I got the tape. I don't know if you'll even get this, from what I gathered you don't have much contact with Earth, but I felt the need to write it anyway. I've enjoyed your company for the years we've been together, and whenever you come back, I'll still be here for you…but you're right, we shouldn't be waiting for each other. If that rule applies for me then it also applies for you.
I want you to be happy Elizabeth, more than you know, and I realise that if exploring a far-distant galaxy is what can do that, then I understand, or at least I'll try my best. Since the original tape you left me my life has changed, the knowledge that aliens exist? That it's possible to travel to other planets? It's just unbelievable, and I think I'm still struggling within myself to comprehend that.
When that Air Force officer turned up on my doorstep last week, I thought you were dead. My first reaction when seeing him was that something bad had happened and they'd sent him out to inform me. But instead he gave me confirmation that you're still alive.
You looked sad on the tape, Elizabeth I don't want you to be sad. Be happy, for me.
Sedge misses you, I think he knows who his real owner is, and it's not me. If it was possible to send animals to wherever you are, the Pegasus Galaxy? I would, but when I asked the officer he said that was impossible. He did however give me an address to mail this to. Who knew Cheyenne Mountain was secretly the way to get to another planet?
She read it a few times before putting it down. He'd accepted her telling him to move on, but he wasn't going to do it, instead in return giving her the permission to do so – something she'd already done. Guilt hit her hard and she blinked a few times to get rid of the mist that was clouding her eyes.
Instinctively she pushed the letter away and picked up the second one. There was no hesitation opening this one, just curiosity.
Who would have thought, leader of a colony, or at least that's the way a certain Dr. Kavanaugh says you seem to think of yourself. Personally I never liked the man, but feel free to send him back at anytime. Sorry about the military personnel I sent through, they may not be the nicest men around but they're good in a battle (but don't tell them I said that). I'd ask how things are, but I'm planning to see both you and Major (or maybe I should say Lt. Colonel) Sheppard in a week or so – depending how long it takes you to kick those Wraith butts!
Yes that's right, I'm promoting Major Sheppard, what he's done in taking over as military commander without any prior experience as one, in another galaxy against an enemy more evil than anything even I've come across (and that's saying something), I think he deserves it. I also thought you might like to be there when he's promoted, being that you're the leader of the colony and all.
Is that joke getting old yet?
Anyway, I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be around, I'm actually considering retirement – fishing to do, friends to hang around with more – this whole desk job thing just really isn't me. Although if you want to swap I'll be quite happy to head over to Atlantis…
Just so you know, we didn't forget about you in the months you were missing. We did try to send a team (including General Hammond and Daniel – I know you had a thing for Daniel don't deny it) on the Prometheus – but that didn't go down so well. We had a female alien take Daniel hostage and the whole situation just got out of hand…so they never quite made it to the Pegasus Galaxy.
If you're wondering how things are around here, they're pretty much great. I think we've finally defeated the Goa'uld – at least Anubis and his followers – so the galaxy is at peace…that's not an invitation to send any of those Wraith things our way. Carter found the tape sent from Rodney incredibly entertaining, well actually she was more embarrassed, but we found it incredibly entertaining – I don't think Lieutenant Ford was supposed to send most of it though. Good on him for doing so, maybe he also deserves a promotion. I should consider that, for being cheeky.
Anyway the Daedalus should be heading back to Earth in a couple of days – and I expect both you and Major (Lt. Colonel) Sheppard on it. Oh and it's a surprise, so don't go telling him.
Brigadier General Jack O'Neill (almost retired)
Elizabeth knew he had entered her room, but she was completely absorbed in the letter. She held up a finger to stop him talking and heard him sigh as he plonked down in the seat opposite her. She could see him fiddling with something that he'd picked up off her desk so she put the letter down – having finished it- and narrowed her eyes at him.
"I swear John, you break anything…"
"I gave it to you," he replied, holding out the circular jar before placing it back on her desk. "So I don't plan on breaking it…"
"Did you just come here to annoy me?" she asked.
"In case you'd forgotten, it's Saturday, which for one means you shouldn't be working so hard and two means we have a sunset to watch," he grinned at her. "I left the picnic back in my quarters so I don't…" he glanced quickly at the people in the control room, "…start any unneeded rumours."
Elizabeth looked at him for a few moments. "You know, John, they're going to start eventually…"
"Oh they already have, just didn't feel like adding to them today," he said, jumping up. "Come on or we're going to miss it."
They already have? The thought disconcerted her somehow, knowing that the people she was the leader of spread rumours about her. Although in a way it made sense, she remembered being back at high school and spreading rumours about their teachers, all in good fun – it wasn't like anyone had seriously believed that their physics teacher was an alien, although with the knowledge she had now, who knew?
"Elizabeth," he said, in a half whiny tone.
She looked at him in surprise. "You just sounded like my younger brother telling me to hurry up and get out of the bathroom."
"Out of the bathroom? You weren't one of those bathroom-hogging sisters were you?" he grinned at her mischievously. "Because you know, they're just not fun…"
She fought the urge to throw something at him and stood up, closing her laptop lid as she did so. The two of them walked, pretty much in silence – only an occasional joke or taunt directed at the other, to his quarters where he ducked inside and got the picnic.
"OK, now we're ready," he was still grinning, and she wondered for a moment if it was plastered on there.
It took them a twenty minutes – with the use of a transporter – to reach their destination, but Elizabeth decided it was worth the distance. It meant they were as far away from Atlantis, and prying eyes, as they couldn't possibly be. She watched John as he set out the picnic food on the steps and she sat down cautiously next to it.
"Done this before?" she asked, more out of curiosity than anything else.
"Was just practicing for you," he replied, not looking at her.
She felt the humour in the situation die suddenly, he really cared about her, but she'd known that…she'd only slept three hours because she'd lay in bed for hours thinking about it the night before. She'd forgotten what it was like to start a relationship, it had been so many years since her and Simon…
She felt guilt rise up inside of her. Jack's letter had put her in such a good mood that she'd completely forgotten about Simon's.
"I got a letter from Simon," she stated, not sure why she was telling him.
"Who?" he asked.
She was take aback for a moment before realising she'd never actually told anyone on Atlantis about him, only Lieutenant Ford knew because of the filmings. "Simon…we were going out for almost four years before I left for Atlantis."
"You have someone back home?" John asked, freezing with a loaf of bread in his hands.
She looked at him. "I did…when we sent the tapes back to Earth…I told him to move on. I don't care about him the way I used to. He wrote in the letter that if he has to move on, so do I…"
John was silent for a few moments. "I got a letter…from General O'Neill, he told me that I'm to return to Earth next week. I'm afraid that he won't let me come back…"
Elizabeth felt a small smile tug at the corner of her lips. "Oh he will."
John looked at her again, raising an eyebrow. "What do you know that I don't?"
"Lots of things, you're not all knowing, John," she replied. "And you're not the only one who got a letter from General O'Neill."
"It wasn't so much a letter as a notice…" John said.
"Oh I got a letter, a big long once, incredibly informal for a General."
"I got 'Need you to come back here on the Daedalus next week. See ya then!'…"
"Sounds about right…his mission reports were just as bad," Elizabeth smiled at the memory of reading through all the SGC reports, she'd always found his the most entertaining.
"You know, technically I'm not supposed to be out here with my superior having dinner, it's against Air Force regulations," John said, after a few moments of silence.
"I'm not in the Air Force," Elizabeth replied, firmly, meeting his eyes. "I don't go out into combat with you, and technically Colonel Caldwell is now your direct superior…"
"Don't remind me," John muttered, handing her a metal mug filled with some kind of alcohol. "But it still feels like I'm breaking the rules…"
"Since when have you cared about breaking the rules?" she asked, narrowing her eyes at him.
"I dunno, it just dawned on me…" John turned to look out over the ocean. "I suppose it doesn't really matter out here…we're at war, and you can't stop feelings forming for people just because you're at war. This is our home…"
She watched him as his took a drink of the wine-like substance, the word 'home' echoing in her ears. This was their home, if they went back to Earth permanently it would never feel the same, it wouldn't be Atlantis.
"You don't have anyone back there…" she said cautiously.
"No," he replied, quietly. "I lost them all when I was nine…my parents, my sister…it was a car crash, I should've been with them…"
"John," she said, instinctively, reaching out and touching his arm lightly. "You survived for a reason…because you had a purpose to fulfil..."
"So did they," he replied, quietly. "But no one gave them a chance to do it…everyone around me has died, Elizabeth…"
He turned to look at her, the sadness in his eyes cutting into her. She'd never seen that much raw emotion in him, he hid it behind sarcastic comments, big grins, the only time she'd even had a hint at it was when she'd asked him if he wanted to send anything back to Earth. It had been a flash of emotions, one which at the time made little sense to her, but now made plenty of sense.
"My friends in Afghanistan, my family…I couldn't help them…that's why I was happy in Antarctica, it's why I didn't want to come to Atlantis…" he paused. "But something about you made me come…you seemed so determined to have me on your team, you and General O'Neill. He told me that if I didn't want to go through the Stargate I was 'wacked'. It made sense to me…you made sense to me…coming to Atlantis made sense to me…and I don't regret coming here – but I don't like dealing with the losses…"
"No one likes dealing with losses, John," she said. "For gods sake, I lost you…"
His eyes, which had dropped to the ground, instantly returned to looking at her.
"I…lost you," she repeated. "It wasn't until then that I realised how much I relied on you, how much you exactly meant…mean to me."
They both fell silent, taking in each other's words, thinking about everything that had happened. It was after a few minutes that she noticed him standing up slowly. She looked up and he held out his hand.
"Dance?" he asked.
"Dance?" she raised an eyebrow, a mischievous grin on her face.
He grinned back at her. "Come on…no one's going to see us."
"John there's no music!" she replied.
"I could sing…"
She narrowed her eyes at him, but took his hand and stood up. The two of them walked down the steps they were sitting on and stood facing each other. Then they danced, Elizabeth wasn't sure for how long, or exactly for what reason, but she knew that she was happy there, one of his arms on her waist and the other resting lightly just behind her shoulder.
"We missed it," he said quietly.
"What?" she asked, looking up at his face.
"The sunset," he replied, looking down at her.
"It doesn't matter," she smiled at him. "I'm having a great time."
He didn't reply, instead he kissed her again, but this time he kissed her properly, and he let her kiss him back. She reached her hand for the back of his neck and pulled herself as close to him as she possibly could. His arms found their way around her waist. Neither of them held back, it was a happy moment, not a moment of despair or of trying not to be seen by anyone else. It was just them, and a whole lot of time ahead of them.
Ford looked up from his book and smiled as he saw Teyla. "Hey."
"You think you can walk yet?" she asked, standing next to his bed.
"I doubt that," he replied. "It's all still incredibly numb down there."
"We'll have to settle for a wheelchair then," she said, signalling to the chair that sat next to his bed.
"How come you could walkagain fasterthan me?" he asked.
"I'm special," she replied, then the smile disappeared from her face for a moment. "It still hurts, but I try and ignore it."
"Well maybe you shouldn't walk so much…" Ford reply, frowning slightly.
"I will be fine," she said. "Come on, I want to show you something…"
She helped him into his wheelchair, which was becoming less of a challenge everyday – either because he was getting better or because they were becoming more practiced. Ford remained quiet as Teyla wheeled him to their destination. He had no idea where they were going, and at that moment he didn't really care, any excuse to get out of the infirmary was a good one – especially when it was with Teyla.
He wasn't entirely sure what he felt for her, but he knew they shared a special bond, one that could only be forged through shared experience. One they would have forever. They reached the balcony just outside the control room, neither of them could travel particularly far.
"Why are we here?" Ford asked as the door closed behind them, shutting them out.
"I wanted to show you the sky the way the Athosians see it," she said. "You'll have to lie down."
He let her help him get out of the chair and lie down on the cold hard floor of the balcony, it hurt him to lie there, but if it made her happy he didn't mind. She lay down next to him, silent for a few moments.
"So, uh, what are we looking at?" Ford asked.
"The sky," she replied. "You see the group of stars directly above us in the centre of the sky?"
"Uh, Iguess so…" he said.
"We have always seen that as the lost city of the ancestors…" she paused. "Atlantis…you see the tower in the centre, and all the other towers around it."
Ford squinted at it. He wasn't entirely sure he could see Atlantis in the stars, but he smiled and turned his head to look at Teyla.
"Whatever you think," he replied.
She looked at him. "You…are not looking hard enough."
"Hey I tried!" he grinned.
She slid closer to him and lifted his arm up, using her hand to point his finger in the direction of the constellation. 'There."
He looked again. She was right, there was something that vaguely resembled a city, he wasn't entirely sure it looked like Atlantis, but he could see where she was coming from.
"I see it," he replied.
"I am glad," she replied. "It has been important to my people for as long as we go back."
He shifted his vision from the sky to her hand on his. She had bruises and scarring all up her arm, and as usual wasn't wearing a top that covered her arms. He reached over with his other hand and ran it lightly over her skin. She looked at him, he could see her out of the corner of his eye. She tried to pull her arm away, but he felt himself automatically clasping his hand around her wrist.
"Aiden…" she said, quietly.
"Ssh," he muttered.
Without letting go of her wrist, he rolled his sleeve until it reached his elbow. Both their arms were now bending at the elbow, their forearms pointed at the sky. Ford watched as Teyla looked at his arm in the same fascination that he had at hers only moments earlier. His arm was worse, not only covered in scarring and bruises, but it was obvious where acid had been dripped onto it, those particular scars in long lines down his arm.
"I…" she didn't seem to have anything to say, but wanted to say something.
"You don't have to say anything," he replied. "I just need you to be here at the moment…you're the only one that understands…"
"I didn't go through as much as you," she whispered.
"You went through more…you can feel the Wraith, I can only imagine what that feels like," Ford moved his hand up to meet hers, their fingers finding each other's and clasping.
They let their arms fall so they lay between them, and Ford looked back up at the sky, at 'Atlantis', yet he could feel Teyla still staring at him.
"Why did you kiss me?" she asked, quietly.
He looked back at her. The question he'd been dreading all along, because he still wasn't sure why he'd done it. He felt something for her, that much he knew, but whether it was romantic or just strong friendship he couldn't distinguish.
"I don't know," he replied, truthfully. "I just…"
"Do you regret it?" she cut him off.
"No," he replied instantly.
"Then that is all I need to know," she replied, looking back up at the sky.
He did the same, knowing when he should stay quiet. He squeezed her hand slightly and was pleased to feel her squeeze his back. He wasn't sure exactly what was between them, but he knew that at least they would always share the connection of their horrific experience. He glanced down at their arms lying side by side, the scars and bruises. Over time they would fade, but the emotion surrounding it all wouldn't.
"Thank you," he said.
"What for?" Teyla replied.
"For bringing me out here," he replied.
A/N: And here's where I'd really appreciate a review from all the people who read but don't review...cos I know you exist...pretty please!
Nah I don't really care, I've had fun writing this story and I hope you've all enjoyed it! Now it's time for season 2:-)!