Not Like This
by Jennamajig

SUMMARY: This was not how it was supposed to happen. Carson and John talk. Poisoning the Well tag. Answer to the Last Breath Challenge on the SGAHC list.

SEASON/SPOILERS: Season One. Spoilers for Poisoning the Well.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Gah, there be a mention of past het again in this fic (Carson/Perna). But mainly it's angst and taking the challenge as a chance to put John and Carson together in a room since they need more interaction on screen, if you ask me.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.

One last breath...

This was not how it was supposed to happen.

There was supposed to be celebration, not half a population dead or dying from a drug he helped to create. Not a world damning itself because, in end, perhaps, they'd maybe spare a few lives before the Wraith destroyed their world.

She wasn't supposed to be lying across a hospital bed, struggling for her last breath, defending her choice, her eyes still full of wonderful hope and pride until they closed, void of everything, forever.

/"Perna. I'm sorry."

"Don't be."/

But he was. Sorry forever. Sorry for his part in such a disaster. Sorry for her fate. Sorry for the fact that the spark, the connection he'd been seeking for most of his life, was gone.

He didn't love Perna. Love isn't something that happens overnight. But he saw something in her face, felt something in his heart that told him this could be the one worth trying for. Only time would tell.


Time was not eternal.

A simple fact, tried and true, he realized as he ran his hand across Atlantis' balcony railing. The sky was dark, a testament to his own soul. The sun was trying desperately to poke through, but it was failing and the clouds were too stubborn to step aside.

"I don't think Churchill would have liked the Wraith."

He turned, slightly startled. John Sheppard stood a few feet away.

"No, I don't think he would have," he agreed. "Major, I don't mean to be rude, but I'd like some time to myself."

Sheppard didn't listen and took a step forward. "Time alone just gives you too much time to think. To think about everything that went wrong. You lied to Ford. You're far from fine."

"Aye, so I did. Last I checked, lying isn't crime. Please leave."

Sheppard leaned against the railing next to him. "Harsh, doc. But I think I deserve it. I made you go."

Carson sighed. He hadn't intended to be abrasive. "You didn't force me, Major. I could have said no."

Sheppard just glanced at him. "After I promised your services? I don't think so. You're too good a person to do that." He paused a moment. "I had good intentions."

"Don't we all?" Caron looked back towards the sky. "It's going to rain."

Sheppard turned his head up. "Nah. Just dark clouds. They'll pass over and an hour from now, you'll forget they were even here."

Carson gripped the railing, his knuckles grabbing the metal so tight they turned white. "What if you don't want to forget them?"

Sheppard shrugged. "Then you don't have to." Silence fell for a minute before John spoke again.

"I'm sorry about Perna, doc. I know that you and her, well-"

"I wasn't in love with her," Carson cut in, "If that's what you were about to say. We knew each other a few short weeks and we spent most of that time in the lab, working."

"You don't need to be in love with her for it to hurt," Sheppard said simply. "And you two had to eat, had to sleep, had to talk."

Carson released his grip of the railing and the feeling rushed into his hands. He closed his eyes.

If he concentrated he could feel Perna's breath on the back of his neck as she leaned over his shoulder to read his notes. He could feel her lips on his as he twisted and for a second, stopped being professional to steal the only kiss they ever shared. He talked of Atlantis. She wanted to see it. He said he'd ask if she could come. He could show her his lab, the view of the ocean, and a tiny part of him hoped she'd like it enough to come again. And again.

He opened his eyes again, seeing not Perna, but the sea and the angry sky. "Aye, we did," he agreed softly.

"They're fools," Sheppard told him, but Carson shook his head.

"No. They're doing a foolish thing, both they aren't fools. They're simply trying to survive. Another Wraith culling was years away for them. Little did they know it could really be around the corner because of another event set off by another set of people that had only literally stepped foot in their backyard."

Sheppard was silent a moment. "I guess we're all just trying to survive then. Us, Hoff, Steve, the galaxy. Doesn't make you feel better, though, does it?"

Carson gave him a small, sad smile. "No, Major, it doesn't."

"John," Sheppard corrected. "You can call me John."

"John," Carson repeated, the word odd on his tongue. "I don't know if that will happen often. You can call me Carson, then."

"Carson," Sheppard tried. "I'll probably just call you 'doc' a lot, you know."

"I know."

There was another moment of quiet before Sheppard spoke again.

"Look." He pointed to the sky and Carson looked out again. The clouds had started to shift.

Sheppard smiled. "I think the sun's coming out after all."

"Maybe," Carson replied. "We'll just have to wait and see."