AUTHOR: TaleWeaver

EMAIL: Vanessainternode. Stargate: Alantis

SUMMARY: John Sheppard contemplates about the meaning of 'home'. Written for the Metamorphosis challenge. (Spoilers for season 1; speculation and possible spoilers for season 2)

PAIRING/CHARACTERS: Sheppard POV, Sheppard/Weir

DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me. MGM and SciFi channel.


SOUNDTRACK: End of the World (acoustic), Cold. (13 ways to bleed on the stage)

"Never thought I could call anyplace home,

Until I fell asleep here, in your arms."

- Grace, MeShell D'Ndegeocello (Bitter)

It's after midnight, and he's leaving for a mission tomorrow, but he can't sleep. His home looks too beautiful in the moonlight – he can't tear himself away from the sight, not even for slumber. John simply slides down further under the covers, leaning on one elbow and supporting his head on one hand.

He never had a place to call home before Atlantis. His parents died before he'd hit the throes of puberty, and from there he'd been shuffled around a set of distant relatives, moving from grandparent to aunt to older cousin, as they went into a retirement home or won custody of their own child or simply couldn't afford to keep him past high school graduation. Getting the college scholarship was easy; leaving everyone he knew behind was easier. He still thinks fondly of his cousin Annie; he was an usher at her wedding ten years ago, and even now they exchange Christmas cards. Annie is busy with children of her own, now; they're not close enough for letters, let alone from another galaxy. But in high school, she gave him his first ride in a fighter jet – she'd won it in a competition – and let him realize what he wanted to do most in life. If nothing else, he'll always owe her for that.

He realised a long time ago that he hadn't just joined the Air Force so he could fly – anything, everything. It was because of the sense of camaderie. He'd heard others talk about the family they'd found in teammates, other squadron members, but he had never found that himself. He'd come close once, in Afghanistan. But he lost that, too, to a superior officer more concerned with his reputation than his men.

He'd spent nearly his whole life looking for a place to call home, and only found it due to a bunch of relatives so distant they probably wouldn't have claimed him. But they had bequeathed him a single, precious, strand of DNA.

DNA that had brought him to Atlantis.

That had brought him to Elizabeth Weir.

The first time he saw her, he realized that he'd found a woman he had to take seriously. With this woman, he couldn't take anything lightly.

He almost hadn't come on the mission because of it. He'd been so afraid of what she could do to him. But the longing for home was too strong, and the moment he'd set foot in Atlantis, he'd known he made the right decision. He was made for this place.

Realizing he was made for this woman took longer. He'd respected her from the first; liked her almost from the start. But he hadn't realized he loved her until the Genii attack.

"Say goodbye to Doctor Weir."

And his world shattered with the silence on the radio, leaving him alone with the roaring of the ocean, the howl of the wind, and the raging storm of loss in his heart.

When he'd heard her voice again, and realized she was alive, he'd felt the splinters move back into place and meld again, and after the storm had passed, he'd begun calling her 'Elizabeth'. His friend, not just his commander.

From the instant he made the discovery, he'd run from it. But he couldn't forget the moments when he had known that somewhere along the way, he'd yielded a part of himself to Elizabeth Weir that he hadn't known existed.

The whatever-the-hell-it-was with Chaya had been nothing more than a futile attempt to hide from himself. There had been an instant feeling of attraction to her, and he'd pushed aside the lack of chemistry. It was only afterward, when she'd shown him a glimpse of what it was like to be an Ancient, that he'd understood. It was simply her Ancient DNA calling to him – blood calling to blood. Her attention to him had simply been a craving for her people – for home. If anyone could understand that, he could.

Even with the Wraith attack and evacuation looming, Everett's coming through the Stargate had spurred pure chagrin. It wasn't going to be him and Elizabeth heading Atlantis against the Pegasus Galaxy anymore. With Earth reachable again, they'd lose their exclusive ownership to a constant stream of visitors they'd have to accommodate in their city. Visitors who would make their disapproval clear of a more-than-professional relationship between the civilian leader and ranking military officer.

But then the Wraith attacked, and there wasn't time for anything but the defence of the city. Then the generator powering the weapons chair wouldn't work, and there was no time left at all.

In that eternal, electric moment in Command, his eyes locked with Elizabeth's, John felt the veil over his heart being ripped away – he loved this woman, and would for the rest of his life. Which was shaping up to be about twenty minutes.

But the thought of dying wasn't nearly as bad as Atlantis falling to the Wraith. Of Earth becoming their feeding ground. Of Elizabeth becoming an appetiser. As he'd piloted the Puddlejumper towards the hive ship, he'd thought only of Elizabeth's green eyes, wanting her face to be the sight to send him into oblivion.

He still couldn't believe he'd managed to get out of that one alive.

The Daedalus had come at just at the right time to save the day, but was needed at home too much to stay. Earth was facing a dozen enemies more powerful than themselves, while Atlantis was only facing one, and with a ZPM, the shield would keep the Wraith out. After the trouble Colonel Caldwell had caused, General O'Neill – who had personal experience in putting the right team for the job ahead of military protocol – had officially reinstated John as the military leader of Atlantis.

Neither Atlantis or Earth could spare the energy for frequent trips, and not even the Asgard could do more than occasionally visit. Which left Atlantis with enough contact with Earth for the more esoteric supplies – including football games – but they were mostly left on their own. Which was just the way John liked it.

The day after the Wraith siege had ended, he'd conceived and begun to execute a slow, meticulous plan to win the heart of Elizabeth Weir. John considered it's success as proof that God really did exist, and He liked him.

Gazing in adoration at the woman beside him, his eyes roam over moonlight-gilded skin and sculpted bone. Gliding over the angular face and lean, elegant body. She stirs, and John smiles at the glint of jade through the shadows striping her face.

Elizabeth smiles in return, and John basks in the joy of her love, and his own hard-won certainty.

Atlantis is the place he belongs, and Elizabeth Weir is his home.