A/N: Hi everyone. It's been a long time since I updated this story, and I apologize. I lost my muse when TPTB made their casting changes for season four. However, I decided that this story deserved an ending, so here's the final chapter. Thanks to everyone who took time to read and to review! I hope you enjoyed it.
Elizabeth slowly stepped onto the balcony near her office. It was late, and the full moon cast an eerie glow across the ocean. She halted her steps when she saw Sheppard leaning against the balcony railing. The doors slid closed behind her. She stood in silence, wondering whether she should interrupt his quiet reverie.
"Couldn't sleep either?" he said breaking the silence, but not taking his eyes off the ocean.
Elizabeth walked forward to join him, "I guess I should switch to decaf." She chuckled, trying to lighten his mood.
He smiled half heartedly and looked at her for the first time -- his eyes searching for something. Unsure of what he hoped to find, she returned the smile wishing he could garner some form of comfort in her presence. John had been out of the infirmary for a couple of days, and his mood had been dark, even brooding. Elizabeth had never seen him so down, and she was worried.
"John, are you okay?"
He could hear the concern in her voice, yet he was unable to reassure her. His anger and guilt over Kaylee's death was all consuming. He couldn't accept the fact that she gave her life to save him.
"You shouldn't have let her do it," he said quietly. It was a simple statement, not an accusation, but Elizabeth still felt the impact. She had questioned her decision a thousand times in the days since it had happened.
"I know," was her simple reply.
She could have explained again that safeguards had been in place, that Kaylee had volunteered, that she ascended and wasn't really dead. However, those words were hollow. There was an emptiness inside that wouldn't be satisfied.
At that moment, John found what he'd been searching. In her eyes, he saw a kindred grief, a pain that simmered slowly and threatened to boil over with time.
He stepped forward moving closer to Elizabeth. She looked away from his stare, suddenly uncomfortable with his piercing eyes. John gently reached up to touch her face, bringing her eyes back to his. This time, he also saw the tears she tried to blink back.
Slowly, he embraced her. Elizabeth buried her face in his chest as he wrapped his arms firmly around her. He clung to her as if his life depended on it. The moments passed in silence, each one lost in their own grief, yet finding a strange sense of peace in each other's arms.
Finally, Elizabeth broke the silence, "What do we do now?"
John backed away, and looked out at the ocean. Elizabeth followed his gaze. He remained silent, but pondered her question.
"We take it back."
"Excuse me?" Elizabeth remarked, uncertain of what he meant.
He reached inside his pocket and slowly pulled out an item. He took her hand and placed what he was holding gently on her palm. She looked down at the small device. The tiny locket was so unassuming, so normal, yet it was the reason for their pain, for Kaylee's death.
"John, the IOA has already given the order for this to be sent back to earth for research purposes. Woolsey will be here tomorrow to pick it up."
"It's dangerous, Elizabeth. You know we can't give it to them."
"Have you considered that it might be safer on earth?" she asked.
"You can't be serious. They are going to study it." He shook his head, "You have no idea what it's capable of doing."
"I think I have a pretty good idea. I have seen it in action."
"Trust me, Elizabeth. You haven't seen anything."
"No, I'm taking it back, and no one -- not you or the IOA -- is going to stop me."
"It's not your decision," she said sternly.
"The hell is isn't! This device was entrusted to me, and I intend to return it. Do you want to know why I'm standing out here tonight? Why I can't sleep?"
He paused before continuing, "Its nightmares haunt my dreams, Elizabeth. Every night, every time I close my eyes, it's in my head. It's dangerous, and it can't be controlled, not by me and definitely not by the IOA."
Elizabeth raised her hand to stop him, "All right, John. I get your point…but as your friend, I want you to know that I'm concerned about your connection to this device. I'm not the only one who has noticed its affect on you. How do you know that these nightmares won't continue after you return the device? Have you considered that it might be better for the device to be on earth where we can study it -- where we can learn how to sever its connection with you?"
"Let Rodney come with me. He can figure it out. We'll be back before you know it."
"I've heard that before."
"Elizabeth, I need to do this."
She didn't doubt his words because she could plainly see the desire deep in his eyes. It made her think back to the day when he stood on the control room stairs and his eyes silently begged for her permission to embark on a suicide mission that could save Atlantis from the Wraith. That thought sent a shiver up her spine, and she quickly shook it off. Now wasn't the time to think about that day. He was waiting for an answer.
"Ah, Dr. Weir, there you are," a voice from behind called out.
Elizabeth immediately recognized the voice. She glanced quickly at John and sighed before turning around.
"Richard, we weren't expecting you until tomorrow."
"Well, with something this important the IOA doesn't like to wait." He glanced at John, "Colonel Sheppard, Rodney tells me you have the device."
John looked at Elizabeth. She hesitated for a moment, but eventually extended her hand, "Yes, we have it."
"Great, I'll be taking it for safekeeping now," he said cheerily before snatching it from Elizabeth's hand.
John quickly stepped forward, and Elizabeth was worried he would forcibly take it from Woolsey.
"You're making a big mistake, Woolsey," he barked. "That device should be returned to its original resting place, and then it should be forgotten."
"I shouldn't have to remind you of this, Colonel, but I'm following orders. The same orders you are bound to follow, and those orders require that this locket be taken to earth for research."
"None of you understand how dangerous it is."
"I can assure you that the research will be conducted by experts in Ancient technology. I'm sure they can handle it, but thank you for your concern."
Woolsey wrapped the locket in a dark cloth and placed it in his briefcase. He addressed Elizabeth before turning to leave, "Dr. Weir…it's always good to see you. Please be sure to give me a call next time you are on earth."
Elizabeth gave him a forced smile and nodded in consent.
As Woolsey walked away with the locket, Elizabeth and John stood frozen in place. Both were surprised at how quickly the exchanged had happened. Elizabeth was relieved (and shocked) that John didn't put up a big fight. John was furious that she let it go so easily. The silence between them was deafening. Finally, Elizabeth moved to his side. Slowly she placed her hand on his arm.
"I'm sorry, but I had to let him take it. It was the right thing to do."
He glared at her for a few minutes, and then his eyes softened. She could see the sadness in them as he said quietly, "I'm afraid we may all be sorry, Elizabeth. You shouldn't have let it go." He then turned and walked away.
Elizabeth closed her eyes and let out the breath she had been holding. She stood alone on the balcony and felt a strange sense of foreboding and fear. Clouds had moved across the sky, blocking the light from the moon. It was dark and for the first time ever, she was uncomfortable being alone in the place that was normally her safe haven. A disturbing chill rose slowly up her back. Shivering, she walked towards the door hoping she had made the right decision.
A/N: Well, that's the end of the story, but it's not complete closure which means there may be a possible sequel in the future…if I can get my muse going again. What do you think? Any interest?