AN: Here we are, at the end. There's a lot
of things I'd love to say, but it'd probably take forever, and since
I'm only one of the two author's posting I won't drone on and on, but I
do have to say a few things. First off, this fic was merlin's
idea (Shelly), and a very brilliant concept it is, and has been.
She came to me with the idea, and we started bouncing ideas off each
other as we went along, neither one of us really grasping how massive
and detailed we'd take this story. But more importantly, the
comments and support from those of you who left reviews, emailed
comments, and even said 'good job' kept us going. There were some
comments that really made us think more about where we were taking the
story, or gave us an idea we hadn't considered, and some comments that
made us look back and address things we left out. Some of you
responded in depth and one of you got the continuing plot dead on
(Laura-Trekkie I believe gets that honor), so that was pretty amazing
and fun to see. So, this is getting long winded and I'll wrap it
up, but more than anything just a huge big thank you for not only
giving this story a chance, and for letting us know how you felt along
the way. The sequel will be starting soon and after you read the
end, I'm sure you'll be wanting to strangle us! And on that note,
goodbye, so long and see you soon!
Not the Daddy…part 35
Pregnancy clock: The End
"He did what?" exploded Weir.
"What are you yelling at me for?" McKay was standing to the side of Beckett, and matching Elizabeth's anger pulse beat by pulse beat. "It sure as hell wasn't my idea!"
Weir clenched her hands so tight the skin whitened. "You expect me to believe that you didn't know he was taking a Jumper out?" she said, but she'd lowered her voice a few notches. "Rodney, you've been practically glued to John since the last suicide attempt."
Carson decided it might be the time to intervene, because McKay was looking a little purple. "Elizabeth, Rodney was with me when Colonel Sheppard…left." Beckett almost said escape, and wasn't that appropriate. "He was asking some questions pertaining to the colonel's health."
McKay took Beckett's interruption to heart, and came down a few levels of confrontational before grudgingly saying, "Anyway, he's got Ronon with him. The man is his own singular army, Elizabeth, Sheppard couldn't be safer than a baby in his mother's arms."
Elizabeth's hands relaxed slightly. "Carson?"
Was it okay, she was essentially asking the doctor – "Physically, he's recovered, mentally…" trailing off, Beckett looked uneasily at Rodney, and Weir got the impression this had been the topic of their conversation when Sheppard had snatched a Jumper – and Ronon – before taking off for the mainland without permission.
"Mentally he's got some things to face," Elizabeth guessed, finishing for him.
Rodney's snort wasn't lost on anyone.
"That's if he will, and I always thought I was stubborn and annoying."
Elizabeth frowned his way, "Rodney…"
McKay held his hands up. "I know, not helping."
"No," she confirmed. Turning her attention back to Beckett, she asked, "So, do I let him come back on his own or send a team to retrieve the colonel?"
Beckett considered the question for a few moments before answering, "Give him some time, some space, Elizabeth. Maybe getting away from the city, with the one person who seems to have understood the ramifications better than any of us, will help." He smiled self-depreciatingly, "At least, I'd venture, it won't do any worse than what we've done."
"Rodney?" she arched her eyebrow at him questioningly.
He sighed, and folded his arms, clearly unhappy with the recommendation, but at the same time accepting it for what it was, probably the truth. "Fine, do as Beckett suggests, besides," he paused irritably for effect, "he's probably right, though I doubt I'll ever have reason to say that again."
The dirty look from Beckett wasn't lost on him, but all Rodney cared about was getting Sheppard through this bump in the road…
Sheppard was breathing hard, and his legs burned from the physical effort. After landing the Jumper, Ronon had shown him a rough trail that wound up a steep cliff. Ronon had thought maybe the hike would do him good, but now John was second guessing his decision to go along with the idea.
He paused, resting a hand on a knee, trying to catch his breath. "You sure this is worth it?" he asked.
Ronon looked over his shoulder, and stopped his upward climb, not even sweating. "Teyla showed it to me when you were on bed rest, it's worth it."
Bed rest. The unwelcome reminder of what had brought him here to this point. "You could at least pretend to be tired," he grouched. The months of limited activity had taken their toll on his level of fitness.
Ronon shrugged. "Why?"
"Because," he started to say, scowling at the Satedan's back, but then realized the runner had a point. "Never mind," he finished irritably. "Lead on, McDuff."
John sighed. "It's an Earth thing."
"I'm not from Earth."
The Satedan still glanced over his shoulder at Sheppard, and he almost thought the runner was intentionally needling him now, but as they continued to climb, he lost the ability to care. He really was out of shape.
"Yeah," he sucked air in, "I remember."
Was there a top to the trail? John tried to look beyond Ronon, but when he did, his boots slid on the rocky trail, and he almost fell. Catching his balance, he tried to hide his mistake by straightening fast. "Nice day," he said conversationally, trying to pretend he'd meant to almost be flat on his back staring at the sky.
Ronon nodded knowingly. "Yeah, warm, though." He paused a minute and looked down at John, "You need to stop?"
"No, I'm good," John replied quickly. He inflected a false surety for good measure.
Just then, Ronon's height difference leveled out, as he crested the peak of the cliff, and Sheppard stumbled up behind him.
"You're not a good liar," confided Dex before adding, "Good view, though."
"I can lie," Sheppard countered with an edge of defensiveness, which was stupid, who wants to insist to others that they can be an accomplished liar, and really, he couldn't – well, big lies, to enemies and bad guys and stuff, he could, but not little white lies to his friends, he sucked at those pretty bad. And he didn't like to admit it, because it made him as see-through as McKay, in a different way.
Ronon just looked sideways at him in a way that clearly transmitted 'keep deluding yourself'.
Isn't that what he'd been doing? Deluding himself? Saying the attempted suicides were all from Dreya and the bond, and John Sheppard would never have resorted to anything that desperate, even at his lowest?
John sighed, and transferred his attention to the view. The ocean shores that he'd seen scouting in the Jumper lay below, tormenting the broken rocks that had sheered from the cliffs over eons of erosion. It was breathtaking, transfixing…primal and scary. It was a long drop. He inhaled deeply and tasted the salt in the air.
Lost in his thoughts, Sheppard found himself asking aloud. "I don't know, am I deluding myself?" He reached down and lifted a small pebble, tossing it a couple of times and feeling the jagged edges, before lobbing it over the edge. He turned and acknowledged Ronon, "McKay thinks I need to talk to Kate, thinks there was a part of me that went along with Dreya's suicidal urges because of my own baggage."
Ronon picked up a much larger rock, hefted it a few times to gauge its weight, before tossing it over, the same trajectory as John's. "McKay's smart, Sheppard. You've said so yourself."
John watched the rock fall. He picked up another and nodded at Ronon. "Did you know my small rock, and your big rock, they make the trip down in the same time? McKay tried to explain it to me. Something about y equals one-half x squared, and a v, there's a v in there somewhere, but no mass – mass isn't relevant, unless there's significant drag from up high." He actually knew exactly what the equation was, but Rodney had thought it was amusing to teach the pilot new tricks, and he hadn't wanted to ruin McKay's fun.
"You didn't come out here to throw rocks, Sheppard."
Blunt arrow to the heart of the matter, that was Ronon. "Maybe I did," John argued. "Maybe that's exactly why I'm here." Throwing rocks was cathartic. There was just something satisfying in holding the aged artifact of the world, and then throwing it with all your might. The added bonus was hearing the spelunk as it hit the ocean surface, not that he could hear it this high up, and anyway, the waves smacking the rock below drowned it out, but he knew it was there.
"Surface waters run deep," Ronon said, lifting another heavy rock. "Sometimes emotions do, too."
That even the runner thought there was truth to Rodney's claims brought John up short…sometimes, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck. John Sheppard hadn't fought harder against Dreya's suicidal thoughts and impulses because there was a small seed inside that had wanted the way out. He'd been running from it, hiding, but you can never run very far from yourself. The old saying about the truth hurts was lame; it didn't just hurt, it burned your soul from time to time.
Shaking his head, he picked up another rock, going for a larger size. The sharp edges scraped the palm of his hand as he took the rock's measure. Savagely, he threw it as straight out as he could. "I hate it when McKay's right." He released the anger that surfaced from facing his truth. "He's going to gloat for days."
Ronon shook his head. "Not this time, Sheppard. Enjoy it."
They spent the next hour watching the ocean churn, and tossing rocks, each one getting progressively larger till Sheppard admitted defeat and couldn't out-heft Ronon. He'd also grown tired, and knew there was the long hike down to look forward to.
By tacit agreement, they both headed for the trail. As Sheppard's boot rolled on a loose rock, and he caught his balance, he sighed. "I guess I might as well get it over with."
"Ship's in one piece, you're in one piece – they can't complain," Ronon offered reassuringly. He also reached a steadying hand for John.
"I'll be sure to tell Elizabeth that," John deadpanned.
Conversation dwindled as the two men had to take care on the downward trek. The trail was steep, and the loose rock made it treacherous if one wasn't paying attention.
They made it safely to the Jumper, and Sheppard guided the sleek craft expertly into the air, angling back home, to Atlantis. He did feel better, remarkably, and as he'd stood on that cliff tossing those rocks, he'd convinced himself to talk to Kate – and not just a pity offering, but really talk. He knew it wasn't going to be easy, but he also knew he couldn't keep running from what had happened.
It was just as the city came into visual range, that Sheppard had an inkling that something was very wrong. His entire body suddenly felt afire with pain, and it took everything he had to keep flying the ship.
John's sudden gasping had given him away, not that he was trying to hide it, but damn it hurt. "I don't know," he managed to say. "Hurts, everywhere."
Ronon's tone that time wasn't questioning, and John knew it wasn't for him. He forced the pain down deep, and followed the runner's gaze across the horizon. Smoke rose from the city –
"Hang on," swore Sheppard, nudging the Jumper forward with more speed, cursing inside from the now dulling pain. He keyed the radio, "Atlantis, this is Sheppard, what's your status?"
Static greeted his call.
"An accident?" guessed Ronon, but he didn't look convinced.
"I doubt it." Sheppard knew enough about Ancient technology to figure there were enough fail safes to prevent accidental explosions, add in the attempted take-over and the med tech that had attacked him after rifling through Beckett's files, and suddenly John had an icy coldness in the pit of his stomach.
He didn't want to consider what the pain was from…but unbidden to his lips came the name, "Dreya…" and what he didn't say, Lily.
The smoke wasn't thick and black, but it was puffing ominously upwards in wide bands of gray from the central part of the city.
As John maneuvered up above the landing bay, he tried to assess the damage, but the smoke obscured the top portions of the city. Once the ship was landed, he bounded to the hatch, Ronon on his heels.
It was taking all he had to keep the pain subdued so he could move, and he knew something was wrong with either Dreya or Lily. The bond must not have faded enough yet, due to his strong ATA gene he figured, that was his kind of luck.
But he had a duty to the city, the expedition – a lot of people depended on him. Coming to a branch in the corridor, he paused. One way led to the gateroom, the other led to the living quarters and the nursery. John hesitated, torn. Duty came first but Lily and Dreya might need him, correction, they did need him – his body screaming at him confirmed that point.
Ronon pushed him towards the gateroom. "Go, I'll check on Dreya and the baby."
Sheppard caught the runner's eyes, and nodded imperceptibly. Ronon would do what he could. "Thanks," he said softly, before spinning on his heels and taking off for the command center.
As he went, he smelled smoke, but didn't see any damage. When he cleared the ramp, he entered chaos.
"I don't care what it takes, get a rescue team to that infirmary!" Elizabeth shouted into her radio.
Techs were scrambling around, alarms wailing and lights flashing everywhere. John slowed, trying to get his bearings. "Elizabeth?" he asked.
She noticed his presence, and the thinning of her lips even more than they were told him it was bad, and she wasn't happy that he'd been AWOL for whatever had gone down.
"There's been an explosion somewhere around here." She strode over to the city map and circled the area around the infirmary. "We've also received reports that indicate another explosion took place here." This time she pointed towards the living quarters.
"Intentional?" he asked, his voice dangerous and low.
She hesitated, staring soberly at him. And then she nodded, slowly and surely, and he felt the impact of every minute move of her head. "We think so."
"Damn," he swore, stepping forward, but then he stumbled as another spike of pain tore through him. John reached for a chair to keep himself up.
"John?" the anger flipped to concern. "What's wrong?"
She was walking towards him, and he waved her off, gritting his teeth against it. "The bond, at least I think – how bad is it? How many dead, damages?"
Elizabeth stopped. "I don't know. The explosions happened less than twenty minutes ago. Initial reports are still coming in."
"Rodney?" John knew something was wrong with at least Dreya or Lily, but what about McKay – was there a chance he was with Lily at the time of the explosions, or was he in the lab…
She shook her heard again. "I don't know. Communications disrupted, we're getting a lot of overloaded systems."
Think, Sheppard, think – "Damage teams responding?" he asked.
"Of course," she replied.
"Lorne?" Another wave of agony rolled over his nerves and the last part of Lorne's name came out strangled.
Elizabeth's worry was clear. "He's on it, you can take the living quarters explosion -"
She was offering him the option to do what his heart and soul were demanding he do. He stood for a moment, looking up from his pain, and almost afraid to act, and find what his body was telling him he'd find, but she took another step towards him.
Sympathy and emotion vibrated from Weir. "Go, John."
He fixed his jaw, and nodded, before turning to run. She called after him, "Report back!"
"I will!" he shouted over his shoulder.
The bond was burning through his blood, like liquid fire injected into his system. And his heart beat in tune to a need to get to her – but he didn't know if the her was Lily, or Dreya, or both. God help him, he didn't want it to be Lily.
As he neared the living quarters, soot and smoke thickened the atmosphere, and he began to cough and struggle to see. Rubble and debris began to appear. A thick lump began to form in his throat, and hand in hand with the burning in his body, he wanted to turn and run away…it was bad. Worse than he'd thought. Soon he had to start pushing, and pulling, blackened metal out of the way. Personnel were wandering around, some covered in blood, others only in soot. But all of them were shell shocked, stunned –
"The baby?" John shouted at one of the members that seemed more cognizant than others.
The man just shook his head dumbly.
Swearing, John pushed further in. He didn't see Ronon, or McKay, but medical personnel were arriving and helping the wounded.
"Dreya!" he tried to holler over the still wailing alarms. "McKay!"
The door to the nursey was just ahead, and the sick feeling in his gut had everything to do with the warped metal, and puddles of water from the automatic extinguisher systems. The explosion had been close to here. His feet felt leaden, but he forced himself to keep moving.
As he neared the door, he heard the crying of a baby under the din, and almost collapsed then and there from relief. Lily was alive – that was something. The door was listing at an angle, half open, and blackened on the outside.
John climbed around the door, and in to the room, his eyes sweeping for the people he was looking for. Rodney, a dirty bleeding Rodney, cradled Lily in his arms. Ronon was on the floor, a woman's body in his arms – Dreya.
Looking at Rodney first, he saw McKay gently shake his head. Numbly, his mind rebelled – it couldn't be. After going so far –
His legs were weak, and he didn't even know how he made it to Dreya's side, but he dropped to his knees, peering at her in fascination. She didn't look dead, she wasn't, it was a mistake…
John looked up at Ronon, asking him why…why did it happen, even as he took Dreya's limp body from the runner, on to his own lap, falling to his haunches, and then flat on the floor, his back coming to rest against the still warm wall.
"No -" he heard himself deny the truth. "She can't be dead…"
Dreya's sightless eyes staring up at him said otherwise. Death was ugly, and brutal, and there was nothing peaceful about it. Even as he revolted from the truth looking him in the face, he felt the injuries against his legs that had killed her. Blood was still seeping from her torn and shattered back.
Oh, god – it hurt…and not just the physical severing of the bond…Lily's mother was dead in his arms, and he hadn't been able to stop it. He hadn't been able to protect her, even though he'd known something was going down after the take-over attempt and the attack on him earlier.
"Why?" he repeated again, looking at Rodney. "Someone just tell me why?"
"I got here as fast as I could…" Rodney's voice cracked. "She was…" McKay couldn't do it, he held the crying baby tighter, and Sheppard saw McKay's chin wobble as the man fought for control. A few blinks, and an exhaled breath later, McKay continued, "She covered Lily." Rodney's voice was tight and high, and on the verge of completely failing him, "Covered Lily with her own body," he rapidly finished before losing it completely.
Sheppard knew he was staring. Just staring. At McKay…Lily…the destroyed room, and deep down inside something snapped. He looked down again at Dreya, felt the shrapnel sticking out of her back, poking into his legs, and his pants now wet and sticky from her blood. "I'm gonna kill the bastard that did this," he vowed, his voice cold with the promise of death. "I'm gonna find him, and when I do, he'll regret the day he was born, and then he'll regret every single day he lived after that."
Ronon clasped a firm hand on his shoulder, and the runner's brown eyes burned with equal ferocity. "And when you're done, I'll kill him again," he swore.
Sheppard nodded. He slid Dreya's shell off him, because that's all it was now, a shell. "First though, to find out what all this son of a bitch has to answer for." Because it wasn't only Dreya that had died, he was pretty sure of that, and the explosions had been for a purpose.
The bastards had gotten away with it so far. John had been down, and out of the picture because of the pregnancy bond, and complications, but he was back now, and he was pissed…the individual or individuals behind this were going to be rooted out like the cockroaches they were and then…then he'd find the biggest can of Raid, and kill them slowly.
Rodney carried Lily gingerly over the debris, and stepped beside Sheppard and Ronon. His head tilted to the side, still staring at Dreya, and his mouth twisted in pain, both physical and mental. "It had to be our own people – someone that came over on the Daedalus."
Sheppard nodded gravely. "I know."
McKay swallowed from the implication, but gathered himself. "We'll find them," he vowed hollowly. "They might think they're smart, but I'm smarter – we'll find them."
John clambered to his feet, somewhat unsteady, the sudden ending of the bond was rough, and he felt ragged and raw. But he got upright, and he fixed his eyes on his men. "We've got a city to fix," he said tiredly. "Let's go do our job."
And when that job was done, the ones responsible better watch out, because he was coming…
To Be Continued…look for the sequel, coming soon!