Don't stop dancing

Rodney was so concentrated on his current project, a newly found ancient object of which he had no idea what it was supposed to do, that when Elizabeth walked into his lab he didn't even noticed her. Until she coughed a little to make her presence known to him, startling him in the process. He quickly added a few notes to the open file on his laptop before he looked up at Elizabeth, who had taken a seat across from him. She was wearing a grim expression across her features.

"I'm guessing it didn't go as well as you had hoped it would go?" Rodney asked

Elizabeth briefly dropped her head in her hands before glancing back at Rodney, "I don't know what else to do. I'm coming up shot to just bang him in the head with something and see if he reacts."

Rodney gently placed his object down and turned his full attention to the desperate diplomat, "Where is he?"

"Wherever he goes when he disappears."

"I think I might know where he is. Do you want me to talk to him?"

A tired look was visible in Elizabeth's eyes as she looked at him, almost pleadingly. "Could you?"

Rodney assured himself the ancient object was safely tucked away, and the file on his computer saved before he got up and walked over to the door. "I might as well bang him in the head myself. And I really need Kate off my back; he's been evading her for too long now."

Elizabeth smiled as she followed him, "Thank you, Rodney, just let me know when you find him, okay?"

Rodney nodded and they both left the lab, each turning in a different direction. Rodney knew it wasn't a matter of finding John, he knew perfectly well where John would be hiding out; at the top of the Southwest pier.

-0-0-0-0-0-

John was feeling so tired. The only thing he wanted so desperately was to feel okay again. The Southwest pier was far away from everything and everyone, there were no stares, no people taking pity on him, no whispers behind his back. He liked it there, sitting on one of the steps on the balcony, facing the ocean, with his side resting against the rails.

Every time he was there, in his favorite spot these days, time would fly by. He would never have a clue how long he'd sat there, listening to sound of waves crashing against the city.

As he focused on the sound of the waves and the ocean, it made him forget of what awaited him once he'd return back to civilization. He was interrupted in his brooding as he heard the door open and close. He knew his time of peace was once again over. It was only a matter of time before someone came looking for him anyway.

It was always someone different, Ford or Teyla or Elizabeth. John turned his head towards the door, acknowledging the person who was standing behind him. Today it was Rodney.

Rodney walked out to the balcony, moving straight towards the rails, as if he was just there to have a look at the view. He ignored John completely, acting as if he wasn't even there.

John stared at Rodney, waiting for the argument to come, but Rodney remained silent. John wasn't in the mood for games, of any kind, "What do you want?"

Rodney turned around to face John, "Do you remember the first time I came to see you... when you were still acting as Ignatius?"

John glared at Rodney for bringing the name up in his question, "What about it?"

Rodney crossed his arms over his chest, "Do you remember what I called you that day?"

"You called me many things that day."

"No, you must remember since you told Elizabeth that you do remember everything you did as Ignatius. It was the first thing I called you. But the funny thing is I never thought I would have to say it to John Sheppard as well."

John frowned and then his glare went up a notch, "Don't do it!"

"You're acting like one!"

"No, I'm not!"

"Yes, you are!"

"No, I'm NOT!

"Yes... you... are!"

John's glare disappeared at once but was immediately replaced with frustration, "I'm not a coward, Rodney."

"Then please enlighten me, what exactly are you doing here?"

John looked out towards the ocean, "I wanted to get away, I needed to be alone."

"You're hiding, which in my opinion, not that it matters much to anyone, is a cowardly action."

John just snapped, "Stop it, Rodney!"

"Then tell me why you are evading Kate Heightmeyer?"

John suddenly got up, startling Rodney a little, "I attacked her, Rodney! And you want her to analyze me? What I did to her is not something you easily forget!"

Now it was Rodney's turn to let his temper loose a little, "You attacked Elizabeth and you shot me! We could have turned our backs on you and leave you to rot in guilt. Which you seem to be doing anyways. It's just that you don't want to talk about what happened. We all had to do it, it has affected a lot of people, but you are sooooo strong. You can deal with it alone. Bullshit! Explain to me how your recent behavior is not being a coward."

"Rodney..."

"No! Don't Rodney me! If you would use that goop you have for a brain, you would know that there is nothing wrong with getting help. What I'm saying is that the SGC had to deal with situations like this, but everyone involved always came back to normal. You know why?" Rodney waited for John to say something, but he was met with silence, so he continued, "… they knew that what had happened to them was beyond their control and that their lives had to continue. They returned to a somewhat normal life every time but they could never do it alone, they always needed someone's help to do so. You can try as hard as you might but somewhere along the line you need all the help you can get."

John slowly shook his head and turned his gaze to the floor, "It's not the same, Rodney."

Rodney closed in on John, "Yes, it is completely the same thing. The only difference is that you haven't accepted that there was nothing you could do to prevent what happened. You caused some damage, yes. But now it's time to return back to that somewhat normal life of yours."

John ran his hand through his hair and replied, "It's not the same! How can anyone expect me to act like nothing happened when I almost killed you, after I almost raped and killed Elizabeth? I injured a lot of people Rodney. I can't do this!"

"You can't do this! You selfish coward!"

John snapped completely at that and roughly grabbed Rodney's shirt and pushed him against the rails. The move reminded Rodney of one particular day when Kolya had done exactly the same thing, pushing him against and almost over the railing. He shuddered as he remembered that, while at the same time he could feel the rails poke in his back, sensing they were not particularly happy with the weight pushing against them. Rodney held on to John for dear life. "Sheppard! Let me go!"

But John didn't hear him, his face was all screwed up in rage, "You have no idea! None of you do!" John was screaming at the top of his lungs, "I can't do it! Every time I go to sleep all I get is nightmares! Every time I see someone I hurt, I know they don't want to be near me! Every time I look in the mirror all I see is HIM! His thoughts ... what he did ... what he dreamed of doing! I may have killed Kolya, but I can still see him mocking me, knowing that I will never be the same again... EVER!"

Rodney listened to John, finally getting what was eating at John's mind. The rail swayed again and he tightened his grip on John, but with every second that passed, John seemed to be pushing him more and more towards the edge. Things were getting a little desperate, and Rodney didn't really felt like waiting until John had calmed down. But John didn't seem all too eager to calm down and at once Rodney acted out of instinct and punched John square in his face. Sending them both back to the floor, where John landed on his butt while Rodney sank down grateful they hadn't fallen to the other side.

Rodney pulled himself up, holding onto the railing with his right hand. John was still on the floor, bewilderment was spread across his face and blood started to from his nose. "You hit me!"

Rodney cracked his fingers, trying to release some of the pain caused by the punch, though never taking his eyes off of John, "You tried to kill me!"

John stared off into space, his mind trying to grasp what had just happened. Rodney noticed John's expressionless face, but the tears that were slowly making their way down betrayed his hidden feelings.

John felt the warm tears slide over his cheeks. If this would have been any other day, he would have managed to keep himself in check, but not today. Not with what had just happened with Rodney. John slowly pulled his knees to his chest and lowered his head. He wanted to scream, he wanted so much to feel at peace once again. He wanted nothing more than to remove the memories that haunted him every night.

Rodney saw John's reaction and moved closer towards his friend. He sat down next to John but didn't say a word. He could tell from John's shaking, he was releasing his current frustrations. Rodney looked at his hand and realized it didn't hurt anymore. He took another look at John and patted him on the back, "Will you go and see Kate now?"

That seemed to snap John back to reality, as he looked up at Rodney, "I... Rodney..."

In turn Rodney didn't say a word but just stared at John.

John relaxed for a moment, breathing deeply, "Ok! But when I do, you will leave me alone again, right?"

Rodney relaxed and got up, "I will leave you alone the moment you're back on duty. Now, you can't tell me that you're going to see the doctor and then bail on me!"

John was quiet for a minute before he replied, "Ok."

Rodney offered his hand to John and helped him stand up, "Good! Come on, I need to drop you off at Carson's infirmary first. He'll have my head for this."

Once on his feet John frowned, "Why?"

Rodney stared back, "You're bleeding."

Up to that point John hadn't noticed his nose had been bleeding, leaving blood all over his face. He touched his nose and winced, realizing that what Rodney said was true. "Don't worry about your head, Rodney."

"Why not?"

John turned around and started walking towards the door, "Just think of the biggest needle you can imagine."

Rodney saw John tilting his head back in an attempt to stop the bleeding, while he could hear a faint chuckle. He smiled. Even if John didn't want to see it yet, things could get back to normal if he really wanted to. But at the same time he couldn't help but think of that really big needle and he winced inwardly. Why did he hit John again? Oh yeah, to save his life, then he guessed the needle was worth it.

The walk back to civilization was done in silence, which was more than understandable. After his fight with Rodney, John knew that the maniac inside of him was gone for good.

When they finally walked into the infirmary, they found Elizabeth there talking with Carson. But when the doctor noticed John's state of mind and his face, he could barely control himself, "What happened?"

Rodney glanced at Elizabeth and replied, "I had to hit him in the head."

Elizabeth's mouth dropped in surprise. "Why?"

John then answered before Rodney could reply, "It was just a difference of opinion." John looked from Elizabeth to Rodney and back. "Nothing more."

Carson glared at Rodney, while he patted on one of the beds. John hopped onto it and let the doctor prod his nose.

Elizabeth glanced at Rodney and smiled, Carson noticed their exchange and wanted in on the situation, "What are you two smiling about?"

Elizabeth suddenly found the floor very interesting as she softly chuckled, "Well, it's just that I told Rodney that I wanted to hit John over the head, just to see if he would react."

John gave Rodney and Elizabeth a nasty glare. Therefore Rodney quickly added, "Remember what we talked about! You can't back out now!"

John's glare disappeared somewhat, while he allowed Carson to fix his bleeding nose.

-0-0-0-0-0-

John was glad Rodney didn't break his nose, but he had come darn close to it and as a result he was now sporting a nice bruise in the middle of his face. To be honest, John didn't want to go where he was heading to at the moment. But there wasn't any other choice, John knew that every person that passed by him, was a witness. And if he bailed now, the high hierarchy of Atlantis would know about it within the hour. He would never hear the end of it.

So, he continued walking and when he finally arrived at his destination, he just stood there looking at the door, suddenly finding the door extremely fascinating. He was on the verge to just turn around and leave, but at the same time he changed his mind and faced the door once more. He then turned to leave again, but just as he turned around the door opened and he could hear Dr. Heighmeyer's soft voice calling out to him, "Major Sheppard, I've been expecting you for a while. Rodney called me to be ready for you."

John flinched but turned around anyway to face her. Once Kate got a good look of his face, she gasped in shock, "Oh my God, Major, what happened to your face?"

John gave her a small smile, "I was discussing something with Rodney. We couldn't agree and things got a little out of hand."

"Are you ok?"

John shook his head dismissing it, "Yeah, Carson took a look at it. Not broke, just bruised."

Suddenly John looked as if he wanted to run away. Kate smiled and moved away from the door, "Why don't you come inside so we can begin."

John hesitated for a minute but then walked into the office anyway. As he walked in she closed the door and poured herself a cup of coffee. Kate motioned the coffee to John, "Do you want some too?"

John was staring out the windows and turned to look at Kate, "Nah, I'm fine."

Kate walked with her cup of coffee towards the couch and motioned for him to do the same, "Shall we begin?"

John gazed down at Kate as she motioned him to sit. John sat across from her, already feeling uncomfortable. She seemed to notice it in his face, because she decided to break the ice, "How have you been feeling?"

"Okay, given the circumstances."

Kate took a sip from her coffee and placed the cup on the table in front of her, "I wanted to tell you, if we had done this sooner, things would've probably been different."

John looked puzzled, "What do you mean?"

Kate looked down, fidgeting a little with her hands, and then turned her gaze back to John, "I'm not sure I was ready to help you... let's just say that this is as much healing for me as it is for you."

John suddenly felt at a loss for words, and the only thing he could say was "I'm… sorry."

Kate shook her head, "It's not your fault, no matter what you've been saying."

John suddenly felt a familiar tightness in his chest, he wanted to get out of the office, he stood up and turned to the door, "This was a bad idea."

Kate got up too and grabbed John's arm, "No, it's not! If it was, you wouldn't have come here in the first place. Besides, you need this. Not only for your mental health, but for getting back to work."

She had hit a soft spot and John knew it. She let go of him as soon as he turned back to the couch.

Kate stared at him while she sat back down, "Where do you want to start?"

John looked at the woman and even if she looked as if nothing had happened, he knew that underneath she was still feeling the pain of that day, and the scars would always be a reminder of what had happened.

Maybe Rodney and Elizabeth were right. Maybe talking about it would help. John had been repressing everything in the hope of being able to live with it, without giving it too much thought. He spent the last three months like this and he felt tired. He didn't want to do that anymore. And he was already dead bored because of it.

Elizabeth had made it very clear; he would not get his job back until Kate had given him the all clear. He stared at Kate and knew she was going to wait until he was ready to talk and to let go. Maybe this will go well, maybe anyways.

There were things that he still resisted to admit to himself, things that Kate would sense and would want them to surface. But that was for other days, other moods and today he didn't feel like dwelling on those particular moments. He knew that he would have to deal with everything at one point or the other, but he was now here and tomorrow was something he avoided for now, so he looked out the window and back at Kate, "Ask away!"

Kate smiled and opened a small notebook on her lap. John was still not sure about this, but as of now he felt like giving it a try. Maybe it would go well, maybe it wouldn't. He didn't know. But because of it, he knew that there were others that were willing to help him, when bad days arrived.

Although he knew that he would never forgive himself for what had happened. Maybe some day, he would start to forget bit by bit and maybe one day even, he would be able to forgive himself. But that was just wishful thinking, and John knew it, just as Kate asked her first question.

The End.

-0-0-0-0-0-

A/N: It was always my intention to make a little sequel for this fic, but the inspiration never settled. But now, as I went through the story to post it here. The bunnies are teething… let's see how that goes. :D I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for the reviews.