AN: Just a very short ficlet about one of the possible endings to the Ford story line. Spoilers for anything up to the episode Runners.

There Are No Happy Endings

Death doesn't hurt. Really. Kind of funny, actually, but it's true. Oh, I guess some people wouldn't find it funny, but I did. All the movies, and grand adventures I watched growing up, and every death was dramatic, and full of anguished cries or tearful goodbyes.

But it wasn't for me. I wasn't screaming, and I wasn't crying. I was laying, though. Here, on the ground, and I could still feel how hard the ground was, and smell the cold air. When I was gone, that's the stuff I was going to miss. Smelling, tasting, breathing – being.

We get so caught up in our lives, and what has to be done, that we forget what living is about. The actual process of being alive. Experiencing – feeling. Listening to a grand opera, and feeling the growing crescendo. To really experience the emotion, and breathe it in, and never forget. I never wanted to forget.

It's only at the end that we know what we're losing.

I didn't think it'd end this way. Not that I'd done a lot of thinking about it, but killed by my own man? In all fairness, he'd tried to avoid it. I'd tried to, as well, but I suppose it was inevitable from the beginning, and maybe, down deep, we'd both known it would come to this.

I sighed tiredly. I was growing sleepy. My organs were shutting down, like the lights in an office building after quitting time. 'Goodnight, John Sheppard'. Shifting my numb uncooperative legs, I swallowed at the sight of the body to my right. That lump in my throat wasn't for me, it was for him. It wasn't fair. It'd have been kinder if he'd just died. Why be saved, only to live in a self-imposed exile, hunting the hunter, and knowing you can never go back?

Could any of us have done it? Lived, and kept fighting like that?

A sharp pain hitched inside, hard and fast, and I had to rethink that not hurting part of dying. Maybe it did, at the end. Ford knew. Maybe I'd ask him when I got to wherever you go, when you die. I could hear it now, 'Hey, Ford. Sorry 'bout that. Did it hurt for you, too?'

He'd ambushed us on a planet. Surprised us. He needed more ammunition, and that's it. Didn't want a fight. He didn't want to kill, or die, or any of how it all went down, but in the end it didn't matter what he wanted, or what I wanted, because there never was any choice, for either of us.

As soon as he'd turned his back, and ran for the gate, I was with him. We fought, and in doing so, fell through the event horizon. We picked up, and kept fighting. If he hadn't been so reluctant to kill me, I'd be dead already, and he'd be alive and gone. Instead, the kid tried to avoid doing the very thing that I was trying to do. And I hated myself for it, even while I knew I had to do it.

Once he'd known I was going to follow through, he'd started fighting, for real. For his life. Even as changed, and warped as he had become, the little boy that was Ford didn't want to die, and he fought back with all he had left in him, but by then, it wasn't enough.

And I shot him. Not once, but twice, three, four, I lost count after five –

But he'd managed to get his own licks in. I had a bullet in my gut, and unless a miracle waltzed through that gate, I was dead.

And the little boy in me didn't want to die either –

"It's a ship; it goes through the gate: Gateship one."

"Anyone else call shotgun?"

"By, Grandma, Grandpa! I miss you!"

"Is he still alive? Please tell me he's still alive, damn it Sheppard, don't you die on me!"

"Get a med team stat! Colonel Sheppard's been shot -"

"It hurts," I murmured, surprised. "Dying's not supposed to hurt."

"Then you're not dying," replied Rodney, his voice cracking.

Something was gripping my hand – was that McKay?

I blinked, and saw the infirmary focus in around me. They'd found me. I hadn't died and I wasn't alone anymore. But Ford was, even in death, he would be cheated out of a friend up there. I grimaced from the pain. It doesn't hurt when you're dying, and I was hurting pretty bad, so maybe I wasn't really dying this time.

"He's gone," I whispered through dry lips. I'd killed him, hadn't I?

I watched as McKay found somewhere else to look as he answered soberly. "Yeah, he's gone."

I blinked some more, because it hurt. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't supposed to end like this.

McKay was fighting hard to not be so – McKay'ish. He tried to say something, but each time he opened his mouth, he couldn't get it to come out right, so finally he just looked at me, really looked, and written all over his face was him trying to explain to me that he understood.

"Go back to sleep, Sheppard. Carson said you'll need a lot of it for a while."

I closed my eyes, my hand found McKay's and I felt him give a strong squeeze, before he let go, and I heard the chair creak as he leaned back, getting comfortable for the long night ahead.

I'm sorry, Ford.

"Does it hurt?"

"Hurts like hell, Sir – woohoo!"

Fin