Author: Merlin7
Rating: M for language
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them. Sucks.

This is SHEP whumping physically and emotionally. It involves all the main characters and there is a character death.


John followed Rodney through the gate, silently urging the scientist to move faster, despite the fact that McKay was limping badly. They had to hurry. "Raise the shield!" John shouted, the moment he was all the way through. And he kept going, cradling Teyla to his chest, knowing that until the shield was up, and the gate shut down, they were still at risk of being fired upon.

Grodin didn't hesitate, he raised the shield.

Elizabeth was already heading down the stairs, calling for a med team as she ran. "What happened?" she asked, as she reached Sheppard. Her eyes flickered from his face to Teyla, who lay unconscious in his arms. Then she stiffened and asked, "Where's Ford?"

"Still on the planet," John replied, the words gritted out. He had hated having to leave him behind. "He was injured," John explained, seeing the unasked question of Why in Weir's eyes.

"How? What happened back there?" Elizabeth prompted.

John shook his head. He had been asking himself the same question ever since they had stepped foot on M45-667. "The natives don't like strangers. Look...I'll explain later, right now --" He broke off as Beckett and his staff arrived. John eased Teyla down onto a gurney at Beckett's request.

Carson examined Teyla but spoke to Sheppard. "What happened to her?"

"Head injury, as far as I can tell." John studied Teyla's pale face and prayed she would be alright. "We took a fall into a chamber. Rodney hurt his ankle." John glanced over to the scientist and was relieved to hear him bitching at one of the nurses who was trying to get his boot off. Rodney would be okay. John turned back to Weir. "Ford broke his leg...couldn't walk...I couldn't carry them both.." he broke off to watch Teyla being rolled away. Then he jumped when a hand touched his face. John glared at Beckett. "Look...I'm fine!" he hissed.

"You're bleeding." Carson held out his red-stained fingertips.

John was surprised by that but it didn't matter. He turned Weir. "I need a team. We have to go back. Ford was down and surrounded. He laid cover fire for us...so we could make it back." John remembered the smile on Ford's face before he turned to follow McKay. A determined smile, made a bit crooked by the pain from his leg.

Elizabeth was shaking her head. "I'm not sending you back, Major," she stated.

"What?" John hadn't expected to hear that and he moved closer, assuming a confrontational stance. "I told him I would come back for him." John could hear his own words echoing in his ears. Hang in there, Ford. I'll be back soon. And Ford's reply. I know you will, sir.

"I'm not sending you or anyone else back there to die, John." Elizabeth's voice was soft but laced with steel.

Anger blazed from his eyes and John leaned in a bit, looming over her, wanting to get his point across. "We can't leave him there! He'll die!"

Elizabeth held her ground. "He'll understand, John. He wouldn't expect you to come back...and you know that."

"Like hell I do!" He couldn't believe that she was saying this. And John didn't want to accept that she believed it.

"He knew the risks."

With a shake of his head, John turned back to the gate. "So do I!" he snarled. "I'm going back for Ford!" And no one was going to stop him.

Elizabeth moved forward, catching him by the arm and hauling him back around to face her. "I won't allow it." Softly spoken but anger now glinted in her eyes.

"I'm not asking for permission!" John hissed. He reminded himself that she didn't understand. She couldn't. She wasn't military and despite everything they had suffered as a unit, since stepping into Atlantis, Weir had yet to be a part of the kind of unity experienced by an off-world team under fire. John couldn't explain it to her, he doubted even Rodney could. That Rodney had come to understand had been a bit of a surprise to them both. But John shook off such thoughts. Time was running out. Striding over to a nearby marine, John relieved him of his P90 and hooked it to his vest. He had dumped his after running out of ammo, and he couldn't have carried it and Teyla anyway. John then turned to look up at Grodin. "Open the gate."

"Belay that order!" Elizabeth countered.

John moved back to face her. He would make her understand. "This is a rescue mission, doctor, which falls under military jurisdiction. Now open the damn gate!" John could feel his body vibrating with anger, and it awakened the pain in his ribs and stabbed at his temples and suddenly everything hazed to gray and he didn't realize he had swayed until a hand gripped his arm.

Elizabeth looked worried. "You're hurt," she said softly.

"If I don't go back...Ford is dead." John was almost whispering now but the sound still pounded in his head, making it ache.

"Acceptable loss, Major." Elizabeth's tone was icy.

John locked eyes with her and it stunned him to see that she believed it. With a shake of his head he replied, "Not to me." Then he was moving, running up the stairs, drawing his side arm. He reached the console where Grodin was standing and pointed his gun at him. "Open the gate," John ordered. And he heard the stunned gasps of everyone around him.

Elizabeth was white with shock.


John recognized Bates' voice even as he turned to face him. He was too close and holding a Wraith stun weapon and before John could react he felt the cold burst like an electric jolt hit him and his knees buckled. But he grabbed the console. He wasn't going down easy. Another burst, this time icy-cold and painful, and everything faded to black.

He didn't feel Weir's hand in his hair or hear her whisper softly, "I'm sorry, John."

Elizabeth had waited to visit the infirmary. But she couldn't put it off any longer. She stopped by Carson's office but he wasn't in there, so she headed for the main room. She found him checking Teyla's vitals. "How is she?"

Carson sighed. "She'll be all right. She has a concussion but she woke up and was fully aware so I'm letting her sleep a bit."

"I am awake," Teyla interjected, as her eyes fluttered open.

"How do you feel?" Elizabeth asked, moving to her bedside.

Teyla frowned. "Well enough, thank you."

Elizabeth understood. She was thinking about Ford. So Elizabeth turned to Rodney. He was sitting up, his left leg propped on a pillow with the ankle tightly bandaged. His lap top was on his lap, but he wasn't using it. He looked...haunted.

"I'm...fine," Rodney replied, his voice sounding a bit hoarse. Then his eyes flickered over to the bed across from him, where Major Sheppard lay.

"How is Sheppard?" Elizabeth asked Beckett, as her eyes followed Rodney's line of sight.

Carson moved to the major's side, checking on the IV he had hooked up to him. "He's got a mild concussion and some cracked ribs. Didn't do himself any favors carrying Teyla, I can tell you that. And he has a low grade fever starting, on top of being dehydrated. Let's just say he'll be keeping me company for a few days. Rodney can leave in the morning and Teyla by tomorrow night, if she keeps showing improvement."

Elizabeth was pleased, overall, but her eyes rested on Sheppard's face. He looked too pale and bruised and she could not shake away the memory of his eyes as he had confronted her in the Gate room. He had been shocked by her words. Shocked and disappointed and Elizabeth wondered if he would ever understand why she had said them. Swallowing a sigh, Elizabeth turned to Rodney. "What happened out there?"

"Long story short..." Rodney started, but paused to shove his laptop aside then he let his fingers pluck at his blanket. "...um...we located an energy reading inside of what looked like the ruins of some kind of temple. We had to go digging to find the source of the reading and Sheppard found what looked like a palm-sized medallion. It was encased in stone but when he touched it...it lit up." He stopped again, as if gathering his thoughts. After shifting about and wincing, Rodney continued. "Ford was lookout and he shouted that the Wraith had appeared, as if out of no where. I'm guessing that the medallion had signaled them somehow when it was activated. Like with Teyla's medallion. Anyway...Ford came running into the chamber and we all retreated into some back chambers. Next thing I know...I'm falling. The floor gave away. I hurt my ankle, Teyla was knocked out and Ford broke his leg. Sheppard said he was alright."

"How far did you fall?" Carson interjected.

Rodney scrunched up his face as he considered. "Maybe twenty feet. Maybe more. It was dark."

Elizabeth reached out and touched his arm and she could feel that he was trembling. "Go on."

"Well...the Wraith were still coming. We could hear them. Our only hope of escape was to run for the gate. Only Ford couldn't run...there was bone sticking out..." Rodney broke off and shuddered, but then he went on. "Teyla was unconscious and the major had to make a decision. He asked me if I could make it to the gate and I told him I'd crawl if I had too. Sheppard knew he'd have to carry Teyla and Ford was okay with that. He said he'd lay down cover fire for us. The major gave him some extra clips then he told him he'd be back for him." Rodney closed his eyes and whispered, "Then Ford said he knew he would."

"I'm sorry about Ford," Elizabeth said softly. "But no one could go back."

Rodney nodded but said nothing. He reached for his lap top and began typing.

Teyla spoke from her bed and her voice was husky. "Major Sheppard will not forgive himself for this."

"It's not his fault," Elizabeth countered, turning to face Teyla. She saw understanding in the other woman's eyes, but sadness displaced it a moment later. Elizabeth felt the same sadness. "I made the choice...I'll live with it." She knew she had no choice but to do so.

"It is not that simple," Teyla replied. "You know that."

Elizabeth nodded then she turned to Carson who had gone back to checking on Major Sheppard. "Let me know when he wakes up."

Carson nodded. "Aye...but it's going to be a while. I'm keeping him lightly sedated for now. He needs to rest."

"Good idea." Elizabeth approved for two reasons. One because they both knew that Sheppard wouldn't stay down if he was awake. And two, because she wasn't ready to face him. But when the time came...she would be. With one last look at the major, Elizabeth exited the room.