A/N: I'm so sorry this took so long to get up. For a story that wrote itself the first ½, these last few chapters are hard! LOL. But here it is…. Enjoy!
I killed him…I killed him…I KILLED HIM! The single thought resounded through her brain repeatedly as Elizabeth clung to Rodney. For all she knew, time had stopped. She had no idea how much time had passed, and right now, she didn't care.
She knew if anyone saw her, someone would probably question either her sanity or her fortitude. She worked so hard to make sure everyone saw her as a strong leader and to ensure no one questioned her assignment as leader of the expedition. And in her opinion, she did a good job, usually.
Elizabeth sighed quietly. Usually. Not today. If anyone had seen her unable to pull the trigger to save a member of her team, she knew complaints and possibly even an inquiry into her actions and qualifications would most likely follow quickly. And the fact that she was furious at herself for not doing anything only compounded the issue.
She pulled back until she was sitting almost fully upright, but still close enough to Rodney to be touching from hip to shoulder. The physical contact gave her more comfort than she expected and only increased her emotional conflict.
Elizabeth was so glad that it had been Rodney there with her. Not just because his quick thinking had saved them both. Or even because she knew he would never share the details of what had happened with anyone. Simply because if she had to face something like this, she couldn't imagine anyone else she'd want there.
Sure, Sheppard may have found a way out. He may have even been able to kill Kolya on his own. But then she would have felt like the damsel in distress who needed saving. He always made her feel that way. Whenever he asked her opinion or even her permission, she got the strong feeling that he was simply humoring her. She'd taken to talking with him, trying to build a friendship and trust. Elizabeth didn't care if John misunderstood her motives or thought she was flirting with him. She just wanted him to stop protecting her.
Which brought her back to Rodney. He would do what he could, but he knew ultimately, she was capable of saving herself usually. As much as she was glad it was he there with her, and not anyone else, she felt so guilty. She shouldn't have wanted anyone there with her. Not only that, but Kolya had picked up on her relationship with Rodney, at least somewhat. If she hadn't wanted to protect him so badly, it's possible he would have left Rodney alone. Or at least not messed with his mind so much.
The logical part of her knew that wasn't completely true. She wasn't in love with Rodney. But he was her best friend. So she hadn't lied when she'd told Kolya there was something between them. She trusted Rodney with anything and everything about her life. He was the one she ranted too, or talked things out with.
And on those incredibly rare times, when she couldn't hold back the tears at another useless death, Rodney was the one who let her cry and comforted her. He could always see it in her eyes when no one else could and would find a way to get her away from people. They'd go to one of the secluded balconies and he'd just hold he while she cried. Elizabeth smiled slightly at the memories. He gave the best hugs. Just tight enough to make her feel protected, but not so tight that she'd feel trapped.
Rodney stirred slightly, startling her out of her thoughts. Elizabeth looked up at his face and gasped at the look of pain in his eyes. She quickly pulled back, horrified. She'd forgotten that he was still bleeding!
"Lizabeth. I'm sorry. I'd love nothing more than to sit here and hold you and let you work this all out in your head until you're okay with it. But my chest is starting to burn, my thigh is going numb, and I need to move. Hopefully, back to the jumper for some drugs?" He smiled at her apologetically, and she knew without question, that if she'd asked him to stay there a bit longer, he'd comply unhesitatingly.
Of course, she'd never hear the end of it later, once they were all back on Atlantis and safe. He'd either whine about how long he sat there in pain, or brag that he'd stayed conscious that long. Probably a bit of both. And she wouldn't have it any other way.
Elizabeth wanted to grin at him and opened her mouth to say something, when she caught sight of Kolya out of the corner of her eye and immediately sobered, disgusted with herself. She'd taken a man's life! And within hours, she was smiling and about to crack a joke? Had she become that callous?
Pushing the thoughts aside for later dissection, Elizabeth stood quickly. "Rodney, stay right where you are. I'm going to run to the jumper and get the medical kit. Don't move." Without giving him time to do more than nod in acceptance, she dashed out and across the courtyard to the jumper.
As she reached the jumper, she realized at least six hours had passed since this had all began, and she quickly went around to the other side of jumper to check on Dr. Zelenka and John.
They were both awake, and rolled their eyes to her frantically when they heard her approach. She hastened to explain and put their minds at rest. "It's going to be alright. You've both been drugged and will probably have several hours more before you can move again. Assuming Kolya was telling the truth."
Upon hearing Kolya's name, John's eyes opened wider. She shook her head. "Don't worry. He…has been dealt with and is no longer an issue." She again shook her head, this time to forego any further discussion. "I'll explain it all later. I hate to leave you like this, but I have to get back to Rodney. But we will be back for you as soon as possible."
At their signaled acceptance, she hurried into the jumper to get the medical kit and then rushed back to Rodney. He was conscious and had even managed to loosen the rope that she'd forgotten bound his hands. The rope was now wrapped around his thigh above the knife wound, providing a temporary tourniquet to slow the blood that still welled up slowly.
Elizabeth wasted no time opening the kit and spreading out the things she'd need. She made short work of cutting the material of his pants away from the wound, and then cleaned it thoroughly before bandaging it tightly. Then she had Rodney lay back so she could clean the cut bisecting his chest. Thankfully, Kolya had merely been toying with him and the cut was quite shallow. She cleansed it and tapped him up as best she could.
When she was done, she dropped back onto her heels with a sigh. There was nothing she could do about his rib or his face. Carson would wrap his ribs once he was sure of the damage, and the cuts on his face had stopped bleeding long ago, as had the matching ones on hers. She gave him some pain pills. Now that the adrenaline rush was fading, his discomfort level was rising. She used the rest of the emergency water herself to rinse her mouth out to remove the bile taste.
Elizabeth sat next to Rodney as he laid there for about 20 min or so to give the pills time to work. As the pain slackened off, together, they got Rodney on his feet and began a slow limp back to the jumper. She got him in the jumper and settled on one of the couches in the back, and then went back out to see John and Dr. Zelenka. They were still in the same positions, though John did look about ready to fall over.
It was obvious he'd regained a bit of muscle control and had tried to do too much. With a wry smile, she straightened him up. She proceeded to give them both a quick summary of what had happened, though she glossed over several parts, and left out the shooting altogether, merely again stating, "He's no longer an issue."
Elizabeth spent the next four hours going back and forth from John and Radek to Rodney; rubbing numb hands and feet for the former, and checking to make sure the bandages were holding for the latter. Rodney finally fell into a fitful sleep that she knew would be filled with nightmares.
As John and Radek finally regained enough control to stand up, she helped them one by one into the jumper, settling Radek on the couch opposite Rodney, and sat herself in the co-pilot's seat. Thanking the Ancients that their devices were thought controlled more than hand control, Elizabeth helped John place his hands on the controls before returning to her seat and closing her eyes, just glad they'd made it this far and were going home.