Disclaimer: I don't Stargate Atlantis or its characters…
Author's Note: Wow! You guys give me such little credit. Do you really think I could've let this story end like that and lived with myself? Anyway…it ended up much longer than I intended, but I wanted to finish it off all in one post, so enjoy…?
After spending what felt like an eternity wallowing in self pity and despair, Elizabeth had finally snapped out of it. She didn't know how long the feeling of numbness would last, but her friends seemed to think that she was on the road to recovery. She, however, still believed that she had never been delusional, but she kept the notion to herself. There was no point in voicing her opinion when it would only serve to get her into serious trouble again.
As time passed, though, even that part of her that was adamant about John's existence faltered. Since he left her that day in the infirmary, arguably the lowest point she had ever been at in her entire life, she hadn't seen nor heard a word from him. She hadn't even dreamed about him. For Elizabeth, that could only mean two things; he was still alive but was unwilling to put her through such an ordeal again for his own benefit; or her mind had made the whole thing up and she had just become lucid again.
She desperately wanted to believe the former, but necessity dictated she embrace the latter. And since John hadn't made an appearance for over a week, it was easier to act like she had been suffering a mental break from which she was currently recovering. Not to mention that was precisely what everyone else was willing to believe. And placating their inability to confront the 'truth' she had attempted to bring to their attention allowed Elizabeth the ability to regain some of her autonomy.
There were no longer guards outside her door. She was allowed to read reports detailing what was happening in Atlantis, although they weren't yet willing to hand command back over to her. Kate seemed confident that she had regained some control, that she was on her way to recovering from what they termed a 'mental breakdown.' At least, they hadn't blamed her for the lapse in sanity. In fact, Elizabeth could tell that they all felt guilty for it, for the pressure they had placed unwittingly upon her without giving it a second thought. Maybe she could at least look forward to a little more understanding in the future if not a little more help with all the work she does for them, for Atlantis.
Elizabeth didn't really want that, though. She loved leading her brilliant expedition, and as such loathed being restricted in the way she currently was. But could she blame them? The way she acted…She had to regain their trust. And that upset her more than just a little, so she tried not to think about it, about how she now had to earn their trust again, when they showed her none, nor respect, and she had trusted them explicitly in approaching them with the problem of assisting John.
Elizabeth shook her head. She couldn't think those thoughts; they would only serve to get her into trouble. Instead, she concentrated on the report on the computer screen in front of her. Dr. McKay was going to run some sort of maintenance on the Lantean DHD. Apparently, unlike Earth's gate, whose memory crystals were wiped every time a new wormhole connected, the Lantean DHD had a backup system that recorded all incoming data. This backup memory could only store so much information and had to be purged every so often.
A thought dawned on Elizabeth and she nearly threw the laptop to the floor as she jumped off the bed to her feet. There was a way! There was actually a way! Wait a minute! Elizabeth cursed. She was getting ahead of herself. Even if the DHD did store data for months at a time, who was to say that McKay hadn't purged the memory before?
Picking up the computer, Elizabeth took a few deep breaths in an attempt to slow the rapid beating of her heart before returning her attention to the report. She didn't see it written anywhere whether Rodney had performed the procedure previously, or if he intended to download the data or preserve it anyway.
Again Elizabeth found herself struggling to prevent the computer from crashing to the floor as she hastily rose to her feet and made for the door. She had to find Rodney and fast, before he carried out the maintenance procedure and the data she needed to prove John's existence was lost…
"Dr. McKay," Elizabeth greeted the preoccupied scientist as she entered the control room.
"Dr. Weir," he responded, looking up from the work before him and smiling. Normally he would've snapped at someone for interrupting him in the middle of such a delicate procedure. It was all he could do to keep the guts of the Lantean system straight. A single moment of distraction would lead to hours of work trying to figure out the system again. The ancients were not especially good at differentially designating the elements within any given mechanism. But seeing Elizabeth look so much better, more like her 'normal' self made him give her a warm welcome and a smile. "You're looking well."
"Thank you, Rodney," she replied genially. This was a very delicate procedure she was about to perform, convincing Rodney to consider her idea without raising any alarms that would question her mental well-being. "I feel well."
When she simply stood there looking at him, Rodney became slightly uneasy. "Oh, uh…Is there something I can do for you?"
"As a matter of fact…" Elizabeth began, trying to remain light, not to let on that this would eventually lead back to the problematic issue of John Sheppard's existence. "I was reading the preliminary report you submitted about purging the DHD's backup memory-Is that what you're working on now?"
"Why, yes actually."
Dammit. Was it too late to get what she was after?
"So…what can I help you with?"
"If it's not too much trouble, Rodney, could you please answer a couple of questions I have about the system and this procedure?" Elizabeth asked with an obsequious and pleasing voice in an attempt to stay on the mercurial scientist's good side.
"Actually, Elizabeth, it's a very delicate process and I…" he began to object but let himself trail off. He somehow felt that he owed her big time for his horrid treatment of her through her whole psychological ordeal. It wasn't really his fault that she…well, went crazy, but he hated seeing her like that. And being cruel to her now wouldn't probably help her slowly healing, recently fractured mental faculties. "What would you like to know?"
"What kind of data does the system record?"
Elizabeth watched as McKay stared off into space for a few moments with his hand on his chin and his other arm across his chest bracing his elbow, eventually becoming frustrated over his unresponsiveness. She checked the urge to snap at the rude gesture, however.
"Rodney?" She voiced questioningly.
"Uh-sorry," he responded, finally meeting her eyes again. "I was trying to think of a way to put it in simple terms."
"I appreciate the effort, but any explanation would do nicely," Elizabeth said trying not to grind her teeth in frustration. She may or may not have lost her mind over the past few weeks, but she definitely needed time and practice to recover her diplomatic skills and patience.
"I think I've got it," Rodney supplied, smiling to combat the faint aggression he perceived emanating from Elizabeth. "Basically, it serves exactly as you said, a backup system for 'gate travel. Back in the Milkyway galaxy, or any other 'gate and DHD system in Pegasus, data from incoming wormholes is stored in a sort of buffer only until the object is rematerialized or another wormhole is connected. However, the Lantean DHD, which is unlike any other we've encountered in either galaxy, has a separate, rather redundant, system that records data from incoming wormholes and stores them on a slightly more permanent basis. However, as I discovered when I was studying the DHD in more detail, the system is rather small for handling such a large amount of data and needs to be regularly purged-which I was about to do right before you arrived."
Elizabeth blinked a couple of times as the rapidly-uttered explanation sank in. She had tried to follow it, she was desperate to understand, but will alone wasn't enough to allow one to keep up with an explanation offered Rodney McKay style. Finally able to digest it, she realized she still had a couple of questions, which would hopefully ease the way for her idea.
"So let me get this straight," she tried to get her question out as quickly as possible, knowing that although Rodney had tolerated her, even been nice to her thus far, he couldn't remain that way for long when there was work of a scientific, alien technological nature to be done. "The stargate has a buffer that stores the data that is used to rematerialize the 'gate travelers. Is what the backup system stores, the same data?"
"No," Rodney replied, impressed by her grasp of the tech, especially considering her mental condition. Of course, just because she went crazy for a little bit didn't mean she was stupid. "The data buffered within the gate system itself is the exact pattern, all of the information needed to rematerialize an entire object, or human being. The data stored in the backup system is a-simplified version."
"And this data can be differentiated? I mean, you can tell the objects apart, which object made which trip through the gate?"
"Y-es," Rodney answered, curiosity beginning to grow within him. "Each object would have a unique signature."
"Is the data sorted by trip?"
"Yes," he responded again, really beginning to wonder where she was going with this. She obviously had given it quite a bit of thought and approached him with a specific agenda. "Elizabeth, where are you going with this?"
"Okay," she said, finally ready to get to the point. "If I wanted to see who came through the 'gate on a specific day at a specific time, could you find that information for me?"
"Yes," Rodney conceded. "But without reference, we'd have no way of knowing who the signatures represented."
"Hmm…" That was a problem. But "What if we were to compare them to signatures from a date where we know who came through the wormhole?"
"But, why, Elizabeth?" Rodney asked. "You could simply check our own logs to see who came through the 'gate at a certain time."
"Not if our logs never recorded their presence," Elizabeth countered. McKay gave her a strange, bewildered look. She raised her eyebrows at him. Surely he must know where she was headed with this by now.
"Oh, no…" he said finally realizing her intent. "Oh, no, Elizabeth. No, no, no…"
"Rodney, listen to me," she coaxed the apprehensive scientist. This time, she was able to remain calm, sound sweet and smooth. Panic seemed to be taking him over, and he looked desperately around for help, like a nurse with a sedative might pop up and incapacitate Elizabeth for him. "Look at me."
Rodney looked at the woman standing before him. She appeared much healthier than the last time he had seen her, stuck in a bed in the infirmary, a distressed and tortured figure. She also seemed much more confident and level-headed than she had for weeks. Those were reasons to listen to her, but they were also reasons to get help as soon as possible. He didn't want to see her plummet back into the state she had been in but a week ago. On the other hand, he owed her. There were no logical reasons for such guilt, but he knew it, felt it to be true. The last time she had gone to him for help, he had pretended to listen, but turned her in to the others. He had watched as they came for her, in horror and shock as she fought them desperately, crying out for someone to listen to her, believe her, for someone, anyone to care. And he had simply turned a deaf ear to her. For that, he owed her more than he could ever repay.
"Okay," he said quietly, startling Elizabeth. She had been prepared for negotiations, a fight, or to be dragged off by medical staff again. She had really never expected his compliance. "What are you thinking?"
"Thank you, Rodney." She gave him a big sincere smile. "If we compare the data from the returning MXG-241 mission to an earlier mission consisting of Major Sheppard's team we should be able to identify whether his signature is there."
"That probably won't do it," Rodney critiqued, as he moved to gather up a laptop and some other equipment. "We'll need to use more baseline data than that." He glanced at her. "But it's a start."
Elizabeth watched as he played simultaneously with the Lantean technology and their own equipment. It was like watching a balancing act, a juggler sitting on a really tall unicycle throwing glasses through the air and catching them. She giggled at the thought of Rodney attempting such an endeavor. He turned and glared at her, but it was his usual friendly McKay glare.
"I have to download all of the data first, and I still need to purge the system," he said. When Elizabeth failed to pick up the hint and leave, he added "So it's going to be a while before I process the information you requested."
Elizabeth stood there on purpose to annoy him for old time's sake.
"Which would be easier if you weren't staring over my shoulder!" he finally snapped at her. She simply smiled and turned to leave the control room. As she walked away, she could here the scientist mumble under his breath.
"If Carson finds out about this, I'm a dead man." Then in a mock Scottish accent, "What were you thinking, lad? Encouraging a crazy woman like that?"
Elizabeth took a deep breath after Grodin gave her a slight nod, signaling that the city-wide com system was active. She was really nervous for some reason, more excitement than anything else at finally achieving some success. The others now believed her. They couldn't deny the evidence Rodney had produced; John's signature had been right there alongside the others when they had returned from the world where he had supposedly met his demise. And now that they believed her, it was time to recall him back from the land of the dead.
"John?" Elizabeth questioningly, hopefully, began her plea for his return. "I know you're out there. I know you can hear me. Everything is fine now. The others know you're alive. Dr. McKay is confident he can figure out the device and bring you back to normal again."
She paused and stared at McKay, attempting to ascertain whether or not he was being pompous in his reassurances, or if he could actually do what he promised he could. He stood confidently under her appraising stare, but he always looked confident…except for when he was afraid. Still, there was little other option.
"If you decide that you want to rejoin the living…" she continued. She hoped that John would believe her. She knew he left to spare her anymore problems, pain, and he'd stick to that decision. He was a stubborn man when he felt he was protecting someone. But surely he'd realize that the others would not allow her access to the Lantean systems unless she had convinced them. "…you'll find us in Rodney's lab, but not the one we…uh…rearranged."
And with a nod of her head to Grodin, the communiqué was terminated. She looked around at the others, Teyla, Ford, Drs. Heightmeyer and Beckett, who still wore looks of shock upon their faces from the revelation of the briefing they had just completed. Elizabeth had been right all along and they had treated her reprehensively. None could make eye contact with their compassionate and horribly wronged leader, except for Rodney who felt that he deserved some of the glory for proving Elizabeth right. He returned the large smile that had been lighting Elizabeth's face for several hours, since Rodney first showed her the results of his analysis.
"Okay, people," Elizabeth announced to everyone present. It was strange how naturally she snapped back into her role of authority, especially when those under her former command had lost so much faith in her. "I understand that it will take Dr. McKay several hours to reconfigure the device."
"Yes. Apparently, it works kind of like a switch and the polarity has to be reversed-"
"Thank you, Rodney," Elizabeth interrupted. "I don't think we need the details. We trust that you know what you're doing. So if you want to welcome John back in person, meet us down in the lab in about…"
She looked to McKay, unsure of the exact time required to carry out the modifications needed.
"Two hours," he suggested uncertainly. "Give or take."
With a final nod to the others, Elizabeth grabbed Rodney's arm and urged him on his way to the lab. She was far too ecstatic to maintain her normal patience and proper manners. Soon, John would be back with them! And it was all she could do to keep from jumping up and down like an excitable small child.
"I think that should about do it," Dr. McKay announced to the room, turning his attention away from the alien device buried amongst piles of their own diagnostic equipment. "All we need is Major Sheppard."
"He's already here, Rodney," Elizabeth informed the scientist with a large smile. She glanced over to where the specter stood, and beamed wildly at him. He returned the sentiment. He was so proud of her, impressed beyond anything that she was finally able to prove the truth of his predicament to the others, one which thanks to her would soon come to an end. And although still slightly skeptical after all the time he had spent in his current state, John allowed himself to become enthused over the prospect of returning to normal.
"Are you ready?" Elizabeth asked him.
"Are you kidding me?" he answered. "I've been ready for this since we first came back through the 'gate and bozo over there told everyone I was dead!"
"He says he's ready," she relayed to the others, editing his animated, sarcastic response.
"Okay," Rodney announced that he was prepared to initialize the device. "You may want to cover your eyes. A blinding flash of light seems to be a requisite of the ancients when building pointless devices that only seem to cause us trouble."
Elizabeth watched, fighting the urge to laugh, as Rodney squinted with one eye shut and edged his way cautiously to the device with one hand tentatively stretched out before him. She closed her eyes tightly when she was sure that he was finally going to turn the damn onerous machine on. Like when she had played with the device before, desperate to aide the major, she could sense the supernova quality flash even through her eyelids. It was a solid, invariable blanket of light, followed by swirls of colors that danced across her eyelids as an aftereffect of the cornea-scorching blaze. Assured that the bizarre shapes and colors performing a spectacularly surreal display in her mind meant that the blinding light had dissipated, she opened her eyes.
And there he stood before her just as he has been before McKay activated the device. Did he look a little more solid? There was only one way to be certain. She reached out a hand to the man she had fought so hard for, longed to touch again, not realizing that she was holding her breath, and let out a tremendous sigh at the contact it made with his arm. He, too seemed shocked at the revelation, and then returned her exuberant smile.
Within seconds of the touch that confirmed his real presence on their plane of existence, Elizabeth had pulled him into a tight embrace. She was breathing heavily over the excitement and her heart was beating rapidly in her chest, but she couldn't seem to stem the overwhelming emotions she felt at having John Sheppard back among them. He was real! In all honesty, she had had her doubts even though her 'visions' of him had been strikingly accurate portrayals of his behavior and personality. But feeling his solid form, that he was tangible flesh and blood, negated all the fears she had previously held deep down. He was real and alive! She could touch him, she could feel the warmth of his living body, she could smell his unique scent, a mixture of testosterone, sweat and hair gel. She reveled in him, not ever wanting to let him go, for fear that he would disappear just as quickly and achingly as she had lost him before.
John Sheppard couldn't believe that it had finally worked, that the moment he had prayed for, for so long, had finally arrived. He was him again, completely him. He once again resided in the world of his people, his friends. When Elizabeth's delicate hand had made contact with his arm, John truly thought he wasn't going to be able to hold it together. The relief he felt was an emotion intense beyond anything else he had ever experienced. Then she had wrapped her arms around him, and he instinctually wrapped his own around her petite form. It felt so good to hold her, to finally experience tactile contact with another human being again. He had only been feeling have alive all those months, less when he had decided to leave them all alone and wander the city solitarily. Part of him informed him that it was inappropriate to cling to Elizabeth in such a manner, but most of him didn't care, desperate for the connection with the real world, actual substance. She was warm and solid and smelled so good; he had missed her clean, pure scent. He breathed her in deeply, then realized that he was rocking her gently back and forth in his embrace, an unconscious attempt at slowing the rapid beating of her heart, which he could feel through her chest pressed snugly against his own. And he never wanted to let her go; admittedly he was afraid to release her that he would never be able to touch her again, that he'd fade back into the semi-existence she had pulled him from.
"I'm so glad you're okay," she whispered in his ear, fighting back the tears of joy.
"It's all thanks to you, Elizabeth," he answered, whispering quietly back into her ear. "Thank you."
Finally realizing that the others gathered in the science lab were simply standing around staring at them in shocked awe, Elizabeth conceded to breaking off the embrace. She took a few seconds to compose herself before turning to face Rodney, Teyla, Ford, Drs. Beckett and Heightmeyer, as well as Zelenka and a few other scientists.
"Good to have you back, John," she said formally. Then she addressed the others who she couldn't tell were more taken aback by John's sudden reappearance or her greeting of him. "Are you going to welcome the major back or just stand there staring?"
"Oh uh, yeah," Rodney was the first to speak up. "Welcome back, Sheppard."
The scientist stuck out his hand and John accepted it. Then, to McKay's surprise, he pulled him into a man-hug, giving him a pat on the back which the scientist awkwardly returned, before releasing him again.
"Thanks, Rodney," he told his friend with a grin. "It's good to be back."
"It is good to see you alive and well, major," Teyla greeted her friend, before taking his arms and bowing slightly. John followed her lead, touching foreheads with the woman in the traditional Athosian gesture. She, too, gave him a wide smile although she was obviously disconcerted by the whole event of his return from the 'dead.'
"I'm glad we have you back here with us, sir," Ford greeted his former commanding officer. He really liked the man and welcomed the idea of serving under him again. Lord knew they could all use his help surviving in the messed-up galaxy.
"What? Were you getting sick of leading missions yourself?" John poked fun at the younger military man.
"Frankly, sir," Ford countered. "I was sick of going on missions with Sgt. Bates."
John gave him a sympathetic grimace before he found himself surrounded by the others gathered in the room, greeting him and welcoming him back. The mass seemed to keep growing as people throughout the city learned of his miraculous return from the dead, and had to see it for themselves. He looked around, but found he had lost track of Elizabeth. There was so much he wanted to say to her, thank her for.
Eventually, Dr. Beckett had to break up the crowd, informing them that the major needed a medical checkup and some rest. John grudgingly agreed.
Elizabeth examined the goods laid out on the table before her. It was a fantastic spread, the best she had seen since leaving Earth. She couldn't decide which food to try next. She looked to her dining companion for a recommendation. He was busy scarfing down what was some sort of fowl native to the mainland that the Athosians seemed particularly adept at hunting. She watched him as he finished off another bite then licked his fingers. She laughed. It got his attention and he quickly removed the thumb from his mouth.
"A little hungry, John?" she questioned the now self-conscious man.
"You have no idea how good this tastes to someone who hasn't eaten a thing in months," he supplied.
"Well, it's pretty delicious no matter how you approach it," she returned. "It was nice of everyone to do this for you. And thank you for sharing the bounty."
"A lot of this was for you, Elizabeth," he stated. She smiled, knowing it was true. They had called her down to the mess, sat her across from John, who had already been eagerly attacking a turkey sandwich, and brought them dish after dish, placing the foodstuffs on the table until it was completely obscured. It had been their people's way of welcoming John back, and an attempt to make amends to Elizabeth for how detestably they had treated her. She had been surprised by the gesture, and appreciated it immensely, but felt guilty as well. She had already forgiven them all, having felt an almost holistic emotional healing upon knowing John was fine again. The fact that they still felt they owed her something made her uncomfortable.
Something blue caught her eye, and as she shifted slightly in her chair to get a better look, she found herself delighted at the realization. There was an entire tray full of Jell-o sitting just out of reach! She had thought their supply of the sugary gelatinous treat had run out months ago…but apparently someone had simply been hording it. If she had known about this earlier… She loved the stuff and didn't know why. When you thought about it, Jell-o was the farthest thing from 'food' you could possible get. She remembered when they had first introduced Teyla to the treat. The look on her face had said it all as she scrutinized the dessert; this is edible? She hadn't looked convinced when she actually tried eating the bite of disconcertingly wobbly food either.
Elizabeth leaned out of her chair slightly in order to snag a piece of her long-pined for treat. It dawned on her as she reached for it, that the Jell-o had been shaped to spell out the words 'Welcome Back Major Sheppard.' How creative! Elizabeth mused to herself as she targeted a specific piece. It attempted to elude her grasp, wobbling to and fro, but failed. She wondered how the person who had made it cut it into letters. She was pretty certain they hadn't brought cookie cutters with them. Her team was really very resourceful…so perhaps she didn't want to know what kind of implement they used to cut the gelatin.
She tilted her head back and let the Jell-o shape slide into her mouth before closing it quickly, severing the piece in half and letting the sugary gel gush around in her mouth, squishing it against the roof of her mouth with her tongue. She caught John giving her a strange look as she savored the sweet taste and soothing feeling on her tongue.
"What?" she asked defensively. He continued to give her the bizarre look.
"That. Was. Mine." He said solemnly after a few moments. Despite his serious tone, she could tell that he was trying to tease her.
"Oh really?" she asked innocently before tossing the other half of the piece in her mouth. She decided to forego politeness and didn't bother swallowing it, instead keeping it in her mouth to tease him with it. "I thought the food was for both of us…" she glanced over to the tray of Jell-o, making sure to lead his eye there as well. "…Major Heppard."
She swallowed the bite and smiled at him. He tried to maintain the faux angered and hurt look, but failed, returning her smile with his own facetious, lopsided grin. Giving up on razzing her, he picked up an earthenware jug that some of the Athosians had brought them.
"Thirsty?" he asked Elizabeth, proffering the drink. She nodded her head and held her cup out for him to fill. She watched as a dark purple liquid flowed from the decanter. She could smell the alcohol from where she sat as it sloshed into her glass. He then proceeded to fill his own cup with the drink. "Mainland. Early twenty-first century. I think you'll find it to be a playful brew with more than a hint of alien fruit giving it an earthy aftertaste."
The corners of her mouth twitched but Elizabeth fought the urge to laugh. She really had to get a handle on her emotions. Being happy was one thing. Trying to return things to normal while constantly flirting with your military commander was another. But business could wait…right now she was going to enjoy herself. She took a sip of the 'wine,' tentatively at first, but realizing its sweet, rather sugary nature, deepened the draught until she had finished the entire glass. She set it back down on the table and wiped her mouth before the residue could stain her lips.
John raised his eyebrows at her, shocked by the display he had just seen. He had never considered Elizabeth Weir the alcoholic beverage type. He made a mental not to challenge her to a drinking contest. She was probably one of those girls in college that guys always tried to get drunk, but they ended up passed out in their own vomit and she was up early the next morning ready to take her exam. But should he really be surprised? Elizabeth had proven to be full of surprises. He'd always just think he had her figured out when she'd impress him with some new hidden talent or insight, or a display of compassion and understanding beyond what he thought anyone capable of…But she was capable. If he had learned anything from his experience over the past few months, it was that Elizabeth could do anything, more than that. She was willing to do anything to help out a friend. And it was quite a unique thing.
John had known a lot of people in his life, a good number of which he'd call friends. Many of them had been the type that would be willing to die for a friend, for him. And he would've been willing to do the same. But only a few, if any, would've been willing to make the sacrifice Elizabeth was prepared to make for him. She wasn't only ready to die for him; she was willing to go on living deprived of everything that defined who she was. She was going to fight for him despite the fact that she would lose everything, her title, her respect, her friends, her dignity. And that was why he had made his decision to leave. He didn't deserve such a sacrifice from such a woman as Elizabeth. He couldn't be the cause of her downfall. He loved her too much.
"Could I have some of that chicken-like stuff?" Elizabeth asked, interrupting his train of thought.
"Sure," he said handing her the dish. He studied her features as she served herself. He had been under so much stress lately, then overwhelmed with relief that he had forgotten how beautiful she was. He allowed himself to covet her brown curls, her big eyes and her slender graceful figure, if only for a moment.
Elizabeth pretended not to notice him watching her. No good could come from it, especially if they wanted things to return to how they once were. She had missed him terribly, and blamed that for her desire to constantly be at his side. She excused his similar behavior for the same reason. He had been deprived of real human contact for so long, it was no wonder he was flirting with her the way he had been since they had brought him back. And she couldn't blame him. He had almost faced…who knew how long…it could've been an eternity in that state for all they knew how long he'd live that way, an eternity alone wandering the empty corridors of the city. The thought of him suffering such a fate hurt her deep inside, to her very core. The idea that he had been willing to do that, just to stop causing her trouble, to ease her pain… John Sheppard was the noblest human being she had ever met, and having met him, known him, befriended him, she knew she could never live in a world without him. That was why she had been so upset when she had thought he was dead. She never wanted to let him go. She loved him too much.
Both realizing that their thoughts had wandered somewhere uncertain, to a future conflict of interest that neither particularly wanted to consider at the moment, they brushed the ponderings aside. Instead they continued their meal, talking and laughing, or sitting in comfortable silence, enjoying one another's company while they could, not thinking about when the time would come that they'd once again be apart from one another…
A/N: Well, I hope that was satisfactory…I was debating the entire time whether or not to make it more shippy, less shippy or not shippy at all. You can take it how you want, including what they did after, whether it was return to normal or develop their feelings…
Thank you to all of those who gave me feedback. I greatly appreciated it and found it very helpful!