Powered by the ZPM, the Daedalus made quick work of the remaining darts, many of which seemed aimless without the hive ship to command them. They tried their swarming technique again, but against the shield, they had no means of causing any further damage to the Earth ship. Eventually, those that were not destroyed turned to flee, to run away, back to wherever they had come from.

Puddle Jumper Four, still cloaked, was sent to follow them. As the darts were only short range fighters, with limited power supplies, it was hoped that they would be forced to land on a nearby planet, and the Daedalus, once it had dropped off the ZPM, could execute a rescue of those personnel that had been captured.

No one wanted to think about the humans who had undoubtedly been on-board the destroyed Wraith ships. It didn't bear thinking about, since there was nothing that could be done, except to mourn.

The Daedalus landed on Atlantis, setting down on the flat northern pier which had probably been a launching pad for larger Atlantian ships. John was off and running into the City, even before the rest of the people on-board were prepared to disembark. Colonel Caldwell had tried to call after him, but all John cared about right then was making sure that his people were all alright.

He arrived in the Control Room in time to see Elizabeth directing people in from the Gate, as the scientists and the soldiers sent to the Alpha Site were brought home.

He skidded to a halt a few feet from her, and she turned to face him. For a moment, neither spoke.

She looked pale, wan, but her eyes were bright with happiness.

John's own lips lifted into a smile, and his eyebrows lifted.


"We're okay," she promised him, answering his unvoiced question. "And we're still here, thanks to you."

He shook his head, "Not just me."

She agreed with a nod, "I know."

John took a step back then, as if afraid he would not be able to stop himself from hugging her--it had been his first impulse when he saw her standing there. Hell, he wanted to hug them all. Suddenly, he was laughing at the absurdity of the idea that he shouldn't do exactly that, since they had come so close to never having that chance again. Screw etiquette!

Elizabeth was startled by both his laughter and when he suddenly lunged forward and wrapped her in a tight hug, but she was soon laughing as well, easily returning it. She held him tightly, never wanting to let go.

But John wasn't done yet.

Abruptly letting go, the Major turned, to see Beckett coming down the stairs from the control room. The Scot barely had time to grin a hello before he too was enveloped, and more laughter burst through the ruined room. As if a dam had suddenly been broken, everyone started hugging everyone, laughing and cheering and hollering hellos as the realization that they had survived echoed through all their weary souls.

Zelenka appeared at a side door, his expression a little bewildered as he took in the impromptu party going on. John spotted him and jogged over, grabbing the Czech's hand, pumping it enthusiastically. Zelenka grinned, and then let himself be hugged. Then John pulled back and looked around for a moment, one hand still on Radek's arm. His smile faded a little, confused, and he looked back at Radek.


"Teyla, Rodney and Lieutenant Ford are all in the infirmary, Major," Zelenka said softly. "They are all—"

But Sheppard didn't wait to hear the rest of the statement, running full tilt down the hall past Zelenka for the infirmary.


Sheppard entered the room slowly, looking around at the many wounded soldiers littering every available bed. He could see marks on the clipboard hanging next to each bed--triage colors. Beckett's lab had been expanded into several neighboring rooms, to house not only the wounded, but the paralyzed, who were slowly coming around. John had peeked in every room, waving at the gasps and smiles from the various doctors and nurses who spotted him on his search. Finally, he reached the main room, and much of his good humor faded as he looked around.

His men, many unconscious and bound in bandages and hooked up to monitors, filled this place to the brim.

He paused at the end of one bed, looking at the young corporal Dunne, the boy sporting red speckled bandages around his left leg, right arm and one around his head. It was amazing the boy was still alive. As if sensing his presence, the boy's dark brown eyes opened. Dunne blinked up at the ceiling for a moment, then looked down to the end of the bed, at the Major.

Without prompting, a wide smile graced the young face…and he lifted his uninjured arm to give his major a thumbs up.

Sheppard couldn't not return it. "Well done, Corporal."

"Thank you, sir," the boy replied softly. Then, oddly, he looked to his left.

Sheppard followed the gaze…and saw them.

Teyla was sitting next to Rodney's bed, leaning over with her head cradled on her arms on his mattress. She looked asleep. There was blood on her face, but from this distance, Sheppard couldn't determine if it was hers or not. She was also clearly asleep.

So was Rodney. The scientist's shirt was missing, and his chest was wound round with bandages. Sheppard's jaw tensed as he guessed why. Rodney's face was turned away from him, but, like Teyla, he could tell that the man was dead to the world.

Almost as an afterthought, he patted Dunne on the leg and walked over to his teammates. Looking beyond Rodney's bed, he saw Ford on the next cot. The young man looked like he had been through hell. He'd obviously put up one hell of a fight before going down. But, Sheppard knew, Ford had gone down. The Wraith wouldn't have reached the Gateroom otherwise.

Silently, the major walked to a spot between both beds, looking down at the three slumbering members of his team.

And he suddenly felt incredibly tired.

Turning, he saw there wasn't an empty chair, which was a little frustrating. With a sigh, he moved over to sit on the edge of Ford's bed, resting an arm lightly on the lieutenant's. Ford didn't stir.

Sheppard closed his eyes, intending to keep them closed for only a moment…just a moment…that's all….


Slowly, very slowly, Rodney returned to wakefulness. The molasses of sleep didn't want him to, but something far more powerful drove him to it. Anxiety. He couldn't be asleep; he couldn't afford to sleep. He had to wake up.

His eyes rolled, and he grimaced as his eyelids seemed to stick to them. With great will power, he cracked the lids, forcing them to open. His corneas were incredibly dry, and he had to blink rapidly to get his eyes to respond to him and focus.

His mouth opened, and he drew in a deep breath, and, finally…he was able to see where he was.

He groaned a little, and coughed.

Something soft stirred by his left hand, and he titled his head to look down.

The tiniest smile touched his lips as he saw Teyla sleeping on her arms, looking decidedly uncomfortable, the top of her head nearly on top of his fingers.

Lifting his hand, he reached out and brushed some of her hair from her face. She made a small sound, but didn't wake, her head shifting a little on her arms. The hair he'd pushed back fell forward again.

He smiled, and gingerly, so as not to wake her, pushed himself up, ignoring the pain that flared across his chest as he shifted. Blinking some more, he looked around, absorbing the chaos of the infirmary. People were bustling around, though they did it remarkably quietly. Turning his head to the left, he saw something which made him smile even more broadly.

Ford was lying a little on his side, facing away from Teyla and himself. A little further down on the same bed, Major Sheppard was asleep sitting up, precariously perched on the edge. He looked about ready to fall off.

Major Sheppard…the Daedalus…the ZPM!

Rodney's eyes widened with sudden realization, and he shot bolt upright, the wound on his chest responding by acting as if it were on fire, and he let out a loud groan, pressing his hand to the bandages there.

Teyla came awake with a start, her expression startled and afraid, completely lost. She backed off the bed as Rodney shook off the pain, and started fighting with the covers of the bed. Teyla stood up a little clumsily, staggering a little before she had her equilibrium back.

"Doctor?" she asked, coughing a little at the dryness in her throat.

"The ZPM!" he answered her, looking half joyful and half in pain, "I have to install the ZPM! Oh, I hope they haven't tried to do it without me! There's a certain sequence that needs to be followed. How long have I been here?" He lifted his wrist to look at his watch, then blinked when the numbers meant nothing to him. When was the last time he had checked the time? "Crap, damn, hell, how am I supposed to—"

"Rodney?" Sheppard's voice was groggy, but loud enough to stop both Teyla and Rodney's movements. Together, they turned to look back at Ford's bed, where Sheppard was sitting up more fully and stretching. Once done, he favored them both with a patented Sheppard grin. "Hi guys."

"Major!" Teyla bounded over to him, and, before either John or Rodney had time to think, was laying a heavy kiss on his lips. She pulled back, grinning, "I am so glad you are well!"

John blinked, too surprised to even speak. He looked at Rodney, who looked a little miffed that he hadn't received such an enthusiastic hello. The scientist shook his head at the major, then moved to put his bare feet on the floor. Teyla turned then, saw Rodney's annoyed expression as he considered how cold the marble tiles would be, and laughed some more. Suddenly, she was at his side and giving him a kiss as well. To say Rodney was flabbergasted as she pulled away would be an understatement.

"We have much to be thankful for!" she cheered, smiling between them.

Suddenly, her smile fell, spotting Ford for the first time. Rodney and the Major turned, looking at the still unconscious lieutenant. Teyla's jaw firmed, her normally calm demeanor returning as she moved around the end of the lieutenant's bed.

Walking up to stand right by his head, she reached out and touched it lightly.

The two men watched her gently brush along the boy's forehead, neither able to articulate their thoughts. Finally, Teyla looked up and graced them both with a kind smile.

"You should go, both of you," she said. "I will stay with him. Major," she looked at her team leader, "You will be needed to debrief and organize the new arrivals, yes? And Doctor McKay, " she turned soft eyes to Rodney, "I believe they are waiting for you."

Sheppard nodded, and looked back at the scientist. With a weak grin, he moved to shuck off his gear, divesting himself of his vest and weaponry quickly. Pulling off his jacket, he tossed it to Rodney. The scientist caught it, and nodded a thanks as he quickly put it on over his bare torso. Thankfully, McKay found he was still wearing his own trousers. Looking around, he soon caught sight of his boots, shoved beneath the bed. He had them on quickly and was standing, swaying a little, barely noticing as John helped him regain his balance. In the same time, John had put all his gear back on. Turning, both men gave one final nod to Teyla, who smiled approvingly in return. Then, with John supporting a still shaky Rodney a little, they turned to leave the infirmary.


Sheppard knew Teyla was right. He should be heading to the Gateroom to meet with Colonel Caldwell, but, instead, he dogged Rodney, often keeping a hand resting lightly on the scientist's back. McKay was heading unerringly towards the main power room deep in the City's heart, though his movements were clearly clumsier than usual. He kept losing his balance, nearly hitting walls a few times, and Sheppard would have to catch him. Rodney never said a word about the support.

Finally, as they turned a corner, entering the hallway leading to the transporter that would take them down, Sheppard spoke up.

"How do we know it'll be there, for you to install?"

"Oh," Rodney slowed, and he looked at the Major, "Um…I didn't think about that." He reached up a hand to his ear, then let it fall when he realized he had no radio.

Sheppard obligingly tapped his own, "Major Sheppard to Doctor Weir."

"Yes, Major?" Elizabeth's still elated voice replied, "How are they?" She didn't need to say exactly who "they" were. "And are you—"

"Where are you, Major," Colonel Caldwell's voice cut in. He didn't sound happy.

"I'm with Doctor McKay, sir. We're on our way to the main power room. Doctor McKay would like to know if—"

"The ZPM has been delivered to the room, yes. However, though we have repeatedly asked for it to be installed as soon as possible, so that we can get this place cleaned and working again, no one here seems capable of doing so. They all tell me that this Doctor McKay of yours is the only one who can. Tell me, Major, there are well over fifty scientists on this expedition. How is it possible that only one man can install a ZPM correctly?"

Sheppard was grinning so broadly, he thought his face would crack. McKay's brow was furrowed, annoyed because he could not hear what was being said, and deadly certain that, for some reason, they were talking about him.

"What's happening!" he snapped at Sheppard.

John arched an eyebrow at him, and spoke into the mic, "Sir, as I said, I have Doctor McKay with me. We will see that it is installed momentarily." Across from him, McKay's face lit up with a glow.

Caldwell huffed, then sighed. "Fine. See that you do, Major. Caldwell out."

"Major," Elizabeth said, "Before you go, you did not answer my question. Are you and Rodney all right?"

Sheppard looked at McKay, who had lifted an arm so he could tap his watch at the major, looking impatient. Sheppard rolled his eyes at the other man, a sardonic smile on his face.

"Yes, Elizabeth," he replied, "We're going to be just fine."

"Come on!" Rodney said, spinning around and, again nearly losing his balance. Sheppard set him upright again, and Rodney swallowed a little at the tightness in his chest. Through tearing eyes, he smiled back at the major, "Thanks. Now, let's go." And he started to walk briskly away.

Sheppard jogged a little to catch up with him, "Damn, you're impatient, Rodney."

"Me?" McKay shook his head, "Please! Impatience is your failing, Major, not mine. That, and the fact that you need to listen to me more. When I tell you to wait, you wait!"

Sheppard rolled his eyes, "Now McKay—"

"Oh, don't you 'now, McKay,' me." Rodney replied, as they headed further into the corridor, walking side by side, "What did you say to me? 'So long, Rodney?' After everything we've been through? That's all I get? What crap is that! I yelled after you, but, oh no, you didn't even give me a chance! You just took off, not waiting for me, as per usual…."

"I was trying to save the City! Your idea wasn't working and—"

"So? So! That doesn't mean you go suicidal on me!"

"Suicidal! Ha! That's rich coming from you. I had a plan, a good plan. A plan that would have worked and saved everyone!"

"So? It was still a stupid plan! My plan was better, but, oh, no, Sheppard's way is the only way, isn't it? Because Sheppard's the only one in this City who knows the right way to do things. Well, pardon me for disagreeing, Major Moses! You…."


Up in the control room, Elizabeth listened to Rodney's ranting over Sheppard's radio, the Major having forgotten to turn it off, and smiled happily. It was better than music to her ears. As the two continued to bicker, her eyes lifted to look out over the Gateroom, to where the Gate was finally shut down, now that everyone had returned home. The sun filled the vast room through the majestic windows with a warmth and heat that felt richly deserved. She felt blessed.

She felt hope.

She felt….


For now, that was enough.


The End

Hope you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for the feedback! It means a great deal! I love knowing what you all think!

Oh, and, thank you Purpleyin for telling me that the great Martin Gero apparently threw a wrench into my story. Unfortunately, it was already all written, so, to fix it, in my little AU world here, they retrieved the Desert Wraith's bracelet "from his cold dead hands" (man, I loved that line!), Rodney and Zelenka worked some magic, and puddle jumper five now has a shield.And there you go. LOL! PJ-05 is always going to be special in my book, now! (bg) Oh, and, yeah, I always knew there were more than six jumpers--there has to be. Size of Manhattan baby! Having lived there for a number of years, I can agree, it's a really, really big island. Chelsea Piers alone could house the Deadalus, and that's just one small part. Can't wait to see what else they discover out there!

Oh, oh, and Teyla Sheppard, please write your own version of Siege II! Absolutely! If it looks like mine, so what? You have your own style, so, even if it's a similar idea, it'll be different because you wrote it. So, please, write away! (bg)