This is my first Atlantis fic, and my first McKay/Shepherd fic, so please review and be kind.

Summary: How was he expected to go on when the love of his life was gone?

Warning: McKay/Sheppard Slash. Deathfic.

Responses: Yes please!

Rated for mild language and for themes of death.

Archive: Yes to and Wraithbait. Everyone else please ask first.

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Elizabeth wrapped her arms around herself in an effort to control the shaking. When the news came through, she hadn't wanted to hear it; hadn't wanted to believe it. It couldn't be true. So, she just stood watching the shimmering event horizon…

Waiting.

And she wasn't alone. Word had traveled fast and it seemed as if half of the population of Atlantis was crowded into the gateroom. No one spoke; each in their own stages of shock.

Rodney McKay was dead.

Carson and Stackhouse emerged from the event horizon first, holding up the first half of the stretcher. They were followed by Bates and Hynes, and in between them on the stretcher, lay the battered and bloody body of Rodney McKay.

Elizabeth felt tears sting her eyes at the evidence before her. He really was gone. She heard several people breaking down into sobs behind her, but she could not tear her eyes away from the body of the man whom she considered one of her best friends. Rodney looked so serene, so relaxed. His face was neither contorted into a mask of pain, nor into an expression of pure bliss. He was just… peaceful.

They moved quickly and quietly, carrying the stretcher through the crowd, making eye contact with no-one. However, none could hide their expressions of grief. Rodney, while never the most popular of men, had been respected and (eventually) liked by those who knew him well. People had begun to see past the arrogance; the sarcasm and the rudeness and had seen the man who was loyal to the bone, who was brave and resourceful, and who was willing to sacrifice himself to protect the ones he loved.

The defeated-looking medical team emerged from the gate, obviously upset and rushed by without a word. Elizabeth didn't push them. She would get their report later.

Finally, before the wormhole disengaged, Teyla and Ford emerged. They were both clearly upset at the loss of their colleague. Tears slipped down their cheeks, but both tried to retain an outward expression of calm. Ford had two P-90's attached to his vest, and between them, they led Major John Sheppard.

Elizabeth's heart squeezed with a fresh wash of pain as she looked at the leader of the military in Atlantis. He must be going through hell. He had just seen his lover of two and a half years die in front of his very eyes.

Rodney and John had been Atlantis' first, official couple. Six months after their arrival in the city, the pair had approached Elizabeth to tell her they were in a relationship. Elizabeth was by no means surprised. With the energy that crackled around the pair, she was sure they would end up either killing each other, or falling in love and Elizabeth was immensely glad they had chosen the second option. They hadn't been asking her permission, merely informing her. Still, Elizabeth had given them her blessing, especially when she saw the way John's face had lit up when Rodney had placed a supportive hand on his shoulder.

Of course there had been some discontent, especially from the likes of Kavanaugh. Despite living in the 21st century, and exploring a completely alien galaxy, many people kept to their bigoted ideas, and had given the couple hassle. But Rodney and John had stuck together through it all, coming out stronger because of it. They rarely showed untoward affection in public, just keeping to their established banter and barbs, and once people realised that they weren't going to be going at it in every room or in every corridor, they settled down and accepted the couple.

Rodney's actions on this mission had saved John's life, but looking at John now, Elizabeth was sure he wished they hadn't. She had never seen anyone look so lost and alone in all her life. His face was white as a sheet, and his usually 'rock-steady' hands visibly shook. His normally humour filled eyes stared blankly at the scene around him as Teyla and Ford led him from the gate. Elizabeth could tell they were pulling him forward, that he wasn't moving of his own accord, and that he was completely out of it.

They stopped in front of her, and Elizabeth took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.

"How is he?" she asked Lieutenant Ford, indicating to the Major who had slumped to the floor as soon as Teyla and Ford had released him.

"He's in shock, Ma'am," Aiden replied, trying to control his voice. "He hasn't said a word since McKay… since he…" Aiden's voice broke, and he couldn't speak.

"He has not spoken and has barely moved since Doctor McKay died," Teyla finished for him. "We had to pull him to his feet, and pull him through the gate. I am very concerned," she told Elizabeth in her quiet but emotional way. The death of her friend had affected her deeply as they had grown close in the three years they had known each other.

Elizabeth knelt down so she was eye-level with the stricken Major. He was sitting on the ground, staring blankly ahead of him. She was sure he didn't see her, only that dreadful moment when he lost the love of his life over and over again.

"John," she began, placing a tentative hand on his shoulder.

His head snapped back, and he looked at her, his eyes coming into focus. Elizabeth gasped at the level of pain she saw in those hazel-brown orbs, and she knew he was being torn into pieces inside.

John brushed her hand away and, in his first display of energy in quite a while, leapt up and sprinted from the gate room. The crowd parted for him as he ran blindly, his face a mask of pain and anguish. He saw few people as he ran, but those he did meet knew better than to try to stop him. John ran as fast as he could through the halls, trying to outrun his pain, but to no avail. It was constant, sharp like a knife wound, and deep and painful like a bullet. After what seemed like hours, but what was in reality only minutes, John found himself outside the rooms that he and Rodney had shared. They had long given up on having separate quarters, and moved into this spacious set of rooms together. He had gotten his balcony with a view, and Rodney had gotten his den for his work.

John was torn. On one level, he wanted to run. Run so far and so fast that nothing, not even memories could catch him.

But, on another level, he wanted… no. Needed to be somewhere that reminded him of Rodney.

He opened the door and stepped into the room. For a precise scientist, Rodney had been surprisingly messy, and the living room was littered with notebooks and readouts from his many experiments. The bedroom was not much better. The bed was unmade. It had been Rodney's turn to do it that morning, and John had been looking forward to giving him hell for forgetting it again. He would never get the chance now. Wave after wave of pain crashed through John at the thought, but no tears fell. John curled up on the bed, overwhelmed by anguish, hugging Rodney's pillow to his chest. It smelled faintly of him, and John drew comfort from it as he buried his face in the softness.

God, they had been through so much together. Some people had freaked when they had announced their relationship. Mostly, they had ignored them and soon there had been some other topic to gossip about. John actually managed a small smile as he remembered how Rodney had dealt with Kavanaugh.

The other scientist had not let it go for a long time. Two months after the news had spread, he was still making snide remarks and comments to Rodney on a daily basis, complaining loudly to anyone who would listen and generally being an asshole. John hadn't had to deal with him too often, but on one occasion, Rodney had led a team of scientists to study some ruins and John, Ford, Teyla and Bates had accompanied them.

John, Teyla and Ford had been patrolling the perimeter of the ruins and Kavanaugh though that they was out of earshot. Unfortunately, they weren't, and Ford and Teyla had to almost physically restrain John as he listened to Kavanaugh insult Rodney time and time again. John wasn't a violent man at heart. He would kill and defend himself when necessary, but he never purposely went out looking for a fight. But it had taken all of John's will power not to snap the other man's neck!

Rodney pointedly ignored the insults aimed at him, which seemed to irritate Kavanaugh more. John was amazed at his partner's restraint, as Rodney was not known for his patience. He met Rodney's eyes, and his lover clearly shook his head. John was not to get involved. In a flash of insight, John had realised that Rodney simply didn't care what Kavanaugh thought. He was beneath his concern.

Kavanaugh huffed in irritation. McKay was ignoring him, and he didn't like it. God, the man was a disgrace! Sheppard too! Neither deserved to be on the expedition team. He decided to change tactic.

Kavanaugh barely gotten the insult of Major Sheppard's leadership style and skills past his lips when, in a move that shocked everyone with it's speed and ferocity, Rodney hauled back and punched the taller scientist. Kavanaugh fell to the ground, blood spurting down his face and chest. Rodney stood over him, and stared at him coldly.

"You can say whatever you want about me Kavanaugh," he began, his voice tight with controlled anger. "I honestly don't care what you think. You are a mediocre scientist with a small minded view on life. You opinion in no way matters to me. However, if you say another word to me or to anyone else about Major Sheppard's abilities or his leadership skills, I swear, I will shoot you. And I assure you, I am a good shot, thanks to those leadership skills. Major Sheppard has enough to deal with without your incessant whining and grating voice, so I would advise you to shut the fuck up."

John and the others had reached the group of scientists in time to hear Rodney's speech, and John blinked in amazement at Rodney's defence of him. One thing bothered him though.

"How come you get to hit him, and I don't?" he asked Rodney.

"Because, I just broke his nose. You would have killed him, and where would I be if you were locked up in the brig, hmm?" Rodney explained as if it was the most natural explanation in the world. He shook his hand in pain, and John moved forward.

"Here, let me look at it," he said, grabbing a hold of Rodney's hand. The knuckles would bruise, but not too badly. John knew from experience it would hurt like hell, but the pain would fade in a day or two.

"You'll live," he proclaimed.

"Yes, thank you for your fascinating insight Major. By the way, may I congratulate you on this new degree in medicine you seem to have acquired suddenly," Rodney said, sarcasm dripping from every word. John smiled at the smaller man. Rodney was a pain in the ass, no doubt. But he was his pain in the ass. That was all that mattered. In a rare show of public affection, John pulled Rodney into a brief hug, and kissed his temple before turning and going back to patrol the perimeter of the ruins.

Kavanaugh was still on the ground, cursing and swearing and trying to stop the flow of blood from his nose.

No one helped him up.

John smiled at the memory. It was so like Rodney. Just when you though you had him figured out, he turned around and did something to surprise you.

God, John missed him already.

... Earlier that day ...

John stretched lazily as he woke. The sun poured through the large ceiling-to-floor windows, warming his skin and causing him to smile. His arm hit empty air beside him, and John frowned as he realised that Rodney was absent. He stood and pulled on a pair of sweatpants before padding off in search of his lover.

John found Rodney in his den, working away on his computer. His hair was still damp from his shower and he was munching on some nuts that grew on the mainland. John stood for a moment in the doorframe, just looking at Rodney. If someone had told him three years before that he would be living with the pain in the ass scientist, he probably would have laughed so hard he would have pulled a muscle. On first impressions, McKay was arrogant, opinionated, stubborn and rude. On closer acquaintance, he still was. But John saw the sweetness and caring beneath Rodney's actions.

"Mornin'" he mumbled sleepily. Rodney was too intent on his work to reply, but John just grinned and dropped a kiss on his head as he went for the shower. When he came back out, Rodney was still working on his computer, but looked up when John came into the room.

"Morning. Did you come in here a few minutes ago?" Rodney asked John as he towel-dried his hair.

"Yup, and I kissed you and everything," John replied, taking delight from the look of confusion on the scientists face. "What ya working on?" he asked, leaning on the back of Rodney's chair and looking at the computer. John was an intelligent man, but it seemed to him that the screen was filled with just streams of unbroken numbers. He was sure it made sense to Rodney, but if just gave John a headache to look at it.

"It's a report on power expenditure that I'm preparing for Elizabeth. I meant to get it finished last night, but I got… um… distracted," Rodney explained, glaring slightly at John.

"Hey, don't blame me!" John defended himself. "You're the one who gave me the Athosian equivalent of edible body paint for my birthday. Besides, I didn't hear you complaining last night."

"Speaking of gifts, what do you want for our two and a half year anniversary?" Rodney asked him, unconsciously tapping at keys on the computer.

"Surprise me," John smiled down at him.

"I knew you were going to say that!" Rodney groaned. "Why don't you just tell me what you want? You know I'm crap at getting presents."

"Whatever you get me, I'm sure I'll love it."

"Yeah, you say that now. What will you say when I get you something stupid like a comb, for lack of proper inspiration?"

"I'll say, 'Gee Rodney, thanks for the lovely comb. Happy Anniversary.'"

"You would and all! Bloody, cheery bastard!" Rodney complained. "Why do we have to celebrate every six months anyway?"

"I said it once and I'll say it again. Every six months we go without actually resorting to physical violence is worth celebrating. Besides, don't you want your present?"

Rodney brightened at those words.

"What did you get me?" he asked, eyes wide and shining like a child at Christmas.

"You'll just have to wait two weeks to find out!" John called out happily as he went in to get dressed. He could hear Rodney grumbling behind him, but that only caused John to laugh more.

"If you don't tell me, I'll convince Teyla to get you with her whacky-sticks," Rodney threatened from the den.

"She'd use them on you for calling them 'whacky-sticks' Rodney," John called out good naturedly from the bedroom.

It was just a normal morning in the McKay/Sheppard household.

The briefing was short and sweet. John's team was to investigate an uninhabited planet as a possible research outpost. Rodney was gesturing widely about the benefits on that particular planet. John didn't get the interest, and frankly, he didn't really care too much. He was just looking forward to getting out and about.

The planet they gated to was flat and green. A mountain ridge was visible two clicks to the east, and John decided to head that way. As they walked, they fell into companionable banter. After three years together, they were an effective, cohesive unit. More importantly, they were friends, and jokes and stories filled the air as they walked. They reached the mountain range in good time, and set out along the base.

Rodney's eyes were glued to his scanner as he walked, even as he listened to the conversation flowing around him. Suddenly he shouted "I'm detecting a seriously high level of seismic activity building up. We've got to get away from the…"

He got no further as the ground suddenly shook. Teyla and Ford leapt away from the mountain range onto the flat plane they had crossed, but John stumbled to his knees as rocks gave way underneath his feet.

Rodney saw this. He also saw the large boulder that was shaken loose from the mountain top fall towards the Major. In a burst of speed, Rodney ran and pushed John out of harms way. Unfortunately, he was not quick enough to escape himself, and the rocks and boulders came crashing down on top of him.

John coughed and shook his head to clear it. What had just happened? He looked to his left and saw Teyla and Ford staring in horror at something under the mountain.

Wait, where was Rodney?

The dust cleared and John's world came crashing down around him when he saw Rodney half-buried beneath half a ton of rubble. His arm stuck out at an odd angle, and blood poured freely from a wound in his head.

"Ford. Gate. Help. Now!" he managed to bark out as he and Teyla ran forward. He saw the young Lieutenant sprint towards the gate, but in his heart of hearts, he knew it would be no good. They reached Rodney's side and began to pull rubble off his broken body. John was loath to move him in case of spinal injury, so they dug him out enough so he could breathe a little easier.

"Rodney! Rodney!" John shouted. His partner was covered in dust, cuts and bruises. Blood poured from several wounds on his body, and he was barely conscious.

"John? Where are you?" he asked weakly, and John's heart broke at the sound. He had never heard him sound so weak and lost before.

"I'm here," he promised, catching hold of Rodney's hand. He squeezed it reassuringly, and he felt a brief pressure in response.

"What happened?"

"You saved my ass, that's what happened McKay," John replied, trying for their usual banter. "You're a bit banged up yourself though. But don't worry; you'll be fine once we get you back to the infirmary. You'll be back annoying Kavanaugh in no time."

"Liar," Rodney accused softly. "I'm hurt badly John."

"Ok, so you're hurt badly. But, you are going to be fine!" John insisted, his voice taking on a desperate tone.

"John, I can barely move or feel anything below my neck. I can't see you. I can barely hear you. I'm dying John."

"No!" the air-force major denied vehemently. "No, Rodney! You will be fine. Trust me!"

"I love you John," Rodney whispered, his slight grip on John's hand fading.

"I love you too Rodney. Don't leave me! Please!" John cried. His voice cracked at the last word as the light faded from Rodney's eyes and his hand fell slack. John stared in shock at the body of the man before him. Gone was his vibrant energy. Gone was his sarcastic humour. All that was left was the empty shell of the man he loved.

He was vaguely aware of Teyla leading him away from the body and seating him on the grass a few yards away. He barely remembered Ford returning with Carson, a medical team and a few marines; the Doctor pronouncing Rodney dead; Teyla and Ford leading him towards the gate behind Rodney's body.

He was in a state of complete shock. He could barely breathe, the pain was so sharp. He remembered Elizabeth's gentle hand on his shoulder, and the pain and sympathy he saw in her eyes, and he just had to get away.

... End Flashback ...

Elizabeth stood behind Williams at the control station. Around her, Atlantis was returning to its normal functioning, but at a subdued pace. Like him or loath him, Rodney McKay made an impact on almost everybody in Atlantis. He would be missed. She was looking at the display that located everybody in the city. John was in his quarters, and had been for the past five hours. No one had attempted to disturb him, but Elizabeth knew she would have to. He wasn't alright, but she had to make sure he was stable at the very least.

She was about to leave the control room, when Williams' voice stopped her.

"He's moving, Ma'am," he informed her.

"Where's he headed?" she asked, leaning in over the computer. She followed the lone dot as he walked through the corridors, eventually ending up in Rodney's lab. It was empty now. No one wanted to intrude so soon after the accident. Elizabeth quietly left the control room and walked towards Rodney's lab.

The room was in darkness when she got there. She almost turned around and left when she heard a slight sound to her left. John was there, sitting, leaning against the wall with his knees drawn up under his chin. He was hugging to his chest Rodney's laptop, of all things.

"John?" she asked, approaching slowly and sitting down beside him. His face was free from tears, but the turmoil and pain I his eyes renewed her grief all over again.

"He liked to cuddle," John stated suddenly. This surprised Elizabeth as these were the first words he had spoken since the accident.

"Really?" she asked.

"Yep," John nodded sagely. "You wouldn't think it, cos he was such a snarky bastard most of the time, but he really did. He wasn't a softie, but he wasn't as hard as he tried to be either." John was on the verge of babbling, but Elizabeth let him continue. She sensed he needed to get this out.

He looked down at the laptop cradled in his arms.

"The amount of fights we had over this," he continued softly. "He always worked himself too hard. He pushed himself until sometimes I told him it seemed like he was married to this thing instead of being involved with me."

John sighed and reached into his pocket. He withdrew two rings, and Elizabeth gasped in surprise.

"I was going to ask him to marry me," John told her quietly as he stared at the golden circles. "In two weeks, on our anniversary. He would have said yes, I know he would have." His fist closed over the rings and he looked at Elizabeth in anguish.

"I always thought I'd be the first to go," he told her, his voice cracking. "I know it's stupid because we both had the same job, but I'm military! He was an astrophysicist for Christ's sake! He was supposed to be in a lab, looking through a telescope not out chasing aliens and throwing me out of the way of rocks…"

John broke down completely then, and for the first time since Rodney's death,he let teh tears fall.Elizabeth wrapped her arms around him as he lost control.

"How am I supposed to go on?" he begged of her. "How? When the person I loved most in the universe is gone? He left me Elizabeth! He left me!"

The tears fell from Elizabeth's eyes as John became incapable of speech and just sobbed, huge gut-wrenching sobs.

She wanted to tell him he would be fine; that he would move on.

But Elizabeth just wasn't sure he would.

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So, questions? Comments?

No flames please. My fragile ego couldnt handle it.