Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or its characters…
Author's Note: I wrote this over a year ago, when I first started watching the show, not that is pertinent to its content, besides the fact that it places it somewhere in the first season…probably. I never posted it because I thought it was a little too much on the dark side, but now I think I'm over that presumption. Plus, it ends rather fluffy-like. Enjoy?
A Wolf in Sheppard's Clothing
John retched the contents of his stomach out onto the floor. He rested on his hands and knees for a few more seconds, attempting to catch his breath. The memory of what had made him lose his stomach came back to him and he quickly surveyed the room. Elizabeth was no longer lying on the bed. Sobbing originating from beside it revealed her position to him, although he could not directly see her. One thought crossed his mind. He had to get help for her.
He spotted her gear neatly stacked in a corner of the room. It was so organized; just like an Elizabeth thing to do. What had he done to her? Stumbling across the room, he reached her pile of gear and with a brief search, found what he was looking for, her radio. Strangely, she had turned it off. He played with it for a few seconds before finding the right frequency.
"Dr. Beckett," he managed to croak out over the radio.
"Aye, Major" came the Scot's voice. "Beckett 'ere."
"Report to Dr. Weir's room immediately," John rushed out the sentence and switched off the radio, not wanting to go through an explanation of a situation that he couldn't even wrap his own mind around yet. What had happened?
He remembered that he had latched the door shut behind him when he had entered. Or had it been him? It couldn't have…because that would mean that he had… John shook the horrible thought from his head and shakily got to his feet. He stumbled over to the door, using it to stop himself and then proceeded to fidget with the latch. Satisfied that the doctor would be able to gain access to the room, he took a deep breath and made his way towards the bed, towards the figure lying on the floor next to it, towards her.
John hesitated as her form came into view. She looked so broken, not the strong woman he had come to know. And he was responsible. But how could he be? It didn't make sense. What had happened to him? She flinched, noticing his presence looming over her. He forced himself to stop feeling sorry for himself, and knelt down beside her. He had to help her.
She recoiled instantly at the proximity of his body. She pushed herself up and backed away from him, hugging her knees to her chest. Was he going to hurt her again? Or was he John Sheppard again? She didn't want to look, in case it was still there, but she had to look, she had to know. He hadn't made a move towards her. He just sat there on his knees, silent. She forced herself to raise her gaze, to examine his face, his eyes.
"John!" she gasped in relief, throwing herself at him, wrapping her arms around him. He caught her and hugged her trembling body close. He had expected her to react the way she had initially. He didn't expect this, but he held her all the same. She deserved comforting. He needed to make things right. He winced as her chin pressed into his shoulder and her tears ran down his back, stinging the open cuts they found there.
"Thank god it's you," her voice whispered faintly in his ear. "I knew it wasn't you. You couldn't have…"
Her voice trailed off until he could only hear her struggled breathing as tears continued to flow down her cheeks onto his bare skin. It was his turn to whisper in her ear, a futile attempt to explain himself, excuse himself, make amends.
"I'm sorry, Elizabeth. I'm so sorry," was all he could manage to say, over and over again, like a mantra, a chant, a prayer to a god that would make everything alright. He rocked her gently back and forth until he felt her breathing slow, and the tears ceased to flow. Her arms went limp from around his neck, and he attempted to reposition her sleeping form.
Holding her close with one arm pressed firmly against her back, he moved his other hand down around the outside of her thigh, and winced at the memory that it triggered. He scooped her legs together and moved them to the side of his body, allowing her weight to rest in his lap. His hand felt wet and turning his attention to it caused his stomach to twist into a knot. Blood. Her blood. And other body fluids. He fought back the acid burning his throat.
A quick wipe of his hand against the outside of his pants assured the disappearance of the mess from skin and mind, if however briefly. He pulled Elizabeth closer and cradled her gently. He kissed the damp curls clinging to the side of her presently peaceful looking face. Her sleeping face was so serene, not even bearing a hint of the anguished expressions that would forever be burned into his memory.
Dr. Beckett finally found himself in front of the door that he had been instructed by multiple people led to Dr. Weir's temporary residence. He had found the major's call distressing, but the nature of the festivities on the alien planet had prevented him from providing aide as quickly as he'd wanted. It hadn't helped that not only everyone was too distracted having fun to direct him, but the palace was a complex of halls that all looked precisely the same.
He rapped on the door but there was no response. The doctor wasn't sure what to expect, so he took a rather hefty breath before proceeding to enter. He had witnessed many medical crises and emergencies, but what he found behind that door alarmed him. It was dead silent. And at first glance, the room also appeared to be vacant. Venturing further into the room proved otherwise.
He hesitated for a second. Major Sheppard was kneeling on the floor beside the fairly ornate bed. Blood coated the upper part of his bare back and shoulders. He appeared to be cradling something in his arms. Identifying the mass as the limp form of Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the Scottish doctor snapped back to his senses and rushed forward to lend his assistance.
"Oh my god!" was all he could manage to say as he knelt beside the military man who wore a distant look upon his face as he held the unconscious diplomat. He sighed in relief upon finding a strong pulse at her throat and witnessing her chest rise and fall rhythmically. Confirming that the patient was alive, Carson decided to move on to a preliminary examination. "Put her on the bed, Major."
The major seemed entirely unaffected by the doctor's presence, let alone words.
"Major Sheppard?" he questioned, hoping that it would be enough to snap him out of his trance. The doctor had already pulled on the latex gloves to work on Dr. Weir, and didn't want to cross-contaminate them by touching the major's bloodied naked shoulder. "Are ye with me, lad?"
John finally seemed to return to reality. He nodded his head, but said nothing as he managed to rise to his feet with Elizabeth still clutched protectively in his arms. He laid her gently down on the bed for the medical man to examine her, and stepped back. He no longer seemed able to tolerate the sight of her and turned his back to her and the doctor.
Carson gave the unconscious woman a more thorough survey than the previous check of vitals. There was a bruise fast forming on the pale flesh of her sharp cheekbone. A small amount of blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. A fair amount of blood was pooling on her chest, a few inches below her collarbone. He grabbed a piece of gauze from his medkit and sopped up the blood in an attempt to get a better view of the damage. The nature of the wound was nothing fatal, nothing a few stitches wouldn't fix, but highly disturbing. It appeared to be a bite mark.
Dr. Beckett shook it off and continued the evaluation. There were multiple contusions darkening her skin at various locations on her body. He could see them under the lightweight white linen dress that clung to her figure, slightly torn and stained with blood. Carson had worked in hospitals before. He had done his time handling emergency cases. And he had seen something like this only once before. But that was something that couldn't possibly have been what occurred here. He needed answers. He needed peace of mind.
"What happened here?" Carson asked forcing a sense of calm into his voice. John was still facing away from him, him and Elizabeth's bruised and battered unconscious form. Carson placed a hand on the distraught man's arm, coaxing John to face him. "Major?"
"It…I…" Sheppard began to stutter, unable to comprehend the situation, let alone tell the doctor about what had occurred. Pain and confusion filled his eyes. Dr. Beckett had never seen the man look so distraught or sad. "I…I raped her."
He had been avoiding her, avoiding her for weeks somehow, ever since he had carried her home, broken and bleeding. She knew why he could no longer stand to look at her or even hear her name spoken aloud. He blamed himself for what had happened. She and everyone else except for John Sheppard knew the truth, that it hadn't been his fault. But guilt only needed one person to doubt the truth.
Elizabeth had thought that he had just needed time, time to come to terms with what had happened to him, but she should have known he couldn't get past the blame, the self-loathing. And she had finally had had enough of his self-hatred induced depression and avoidance of her, as well as any and all of his friends. She had decided that she would have to confront him, force him to get over it. She had managed to come to terms with what had happened after all…
The door that would lead her to the focus of her intent, the suffering man she so much desired to help, not to mention just see again, appeared in front of her sooner than she expected. However, she hesitated at the door to his quarters. What if there were other reasons for his avoidance of her, his self-inflicted isolation from his comrades and friends? What if he was still under the influence of the creature? What if he wasn't John Sheppard?
She wouldn't be able to face that again. She couldn't. Her stomach began to knot as she remembered his eyes, its eyes. That had been all she needed to see to realize that it was not John Sheppard that had accosted her. It had a look of maniacal anger. It had derived a great deal of pleasure from the suffering of others, her suffering, and even more so, his suffering. What if John Sheppard hadn't ridden himself of the evil creature? What if he never would be free from it?
She shook off the doubts and worries. Carson had given him a clean bill of health. And if she didn't confront him now, what was certain was that he would never be free of what the creature had done. He would blame himself until the day he died. That was just the type of man he was. John Sheppard was an honorable man worth saving, worth fighting any misgivings and fears for.
She took a deep breath and knocked on the door. There was no reply, but she knew he was there. He had rarely stepped outside of his quarters besides when duty had called for him to make an appearance. She fought the urge to just give up and turn around, head back to her own room and cry over his suffering and her own lack of resolve. She had to do this for him. Entering his quarters without permission felt inherently wrong to Elizabeth, but the entire circumstance was most iniquitous.
She found him sitting on the floor, his back resting against the bed, staring at nothing in particular in a melancholy way. Even his normally wildly standing on end hair seemed to droop. There was an air of sadness in the room that Elizabeth could not fail to perceive even had she not come to know the man so well.
"John," she said lightly so as to not startle him. She knew it was quite certain that he had heard her both knock and enter uninvited. But she also knew that any tone in her voice that may be perceived as anger or hostility, or especially fear, would upset him tremendously and would only serve to cause him to shut her out.
There came no reply; he wasn't biting. Perhaps, he was ignoring her entirely. He had grown so adept at avoiding her that maybe he had tricked his mind into denying her existence. If that were the case, what she was attempting to do would prove entirely futile. But she couldn't accept that. There must be part of him that wanted to heal, to accept her forgiveness.
Elizabeth sat down next to him, she too resting her back against the bed. He didn't look at her. He couldn't. He just couldn't bear the sight of her. And if seeing her, smelling her, or even the random thought of her dredged up the horrible memories for him, how, he wondered, could she stand the sight of him?
"John," came her voice again, steady and calm, gentle even. He relished it, his ears savoring every tone that emerged from her lips. He only wished that he could have opened his eyes and watched her soft lips form the sounds that composed his name. But he couldn't. He had to stay away from her. It was better this way. Better for her that she no longer would be reminded of the pain he had caused her, better for her not to be in harm's way. He had never thought himself capable of hurting someone in that way, he had never thought himself capable of hurting her at all. But if he had done it to her before, then he surely was capable of doing it again. He tried to ignore her presence and block the raw memories it dredged up.
"It's not your fault," Elizabeth continued, realizing that it was quite likely she would receive no response from him. There was still no response. She knew what she had to do, but she could already feel the anxiety building up within her. She focused her mind on her concern for John, trying to fight the hold that the trauma had on her, fight the fear of him it had instilled in her. She would have to do it right the first time. If she showed any hesitation at all it would only drive him away, solidify in his mind the idea that she could not tolerate his presence, that it was his fault, that she feared he would cause her pain again. Little did he know how much pain he caused her by behaving as he was, as he had been since the incident.
She reached out her left hand and placed it on his right forearm. For anyone else, the gesture would have seemed insignificant, a sign of comfort between friends. And that was what it was meant to be, but it was so much more as well. To Elizabeth, the accomplishment of being able to touch the man her body identified as her attacker proved that she could overcome the damage the creature had done to her mind. She knew John Sheppard wasn't responsible, but she couldn't stop her instinctive reaction to flee his presence until now. To John, it was a revelation.
It had never even occurred to him that she would be able to forgive him, really forgive him. He knew Elizabeth Weir to be a kind, compassionate woman, but he had never thought even she could forgive such a violation, such an atrocity committed against her. She had told him before, many times in fact, that she knew it wasn't his fault, that she forgave him. He hadn't truly believed her sincerity. He had thought that she had said it simply to spare his own feelings. Her hand tenderly placed upon his arm, placed without flinching, without a hint of hesitation, countered all he had assumed before about Elizabeth's feelings.
She was an even more wonderful woman than he had given her credit for. And he had hurt her, violated her in ways that could break any human being. But she was strong, too, much stronger than he had given her credit for. She had been strong enough to step away from the situation, look at it logically, recover her sense of self, and forgive him. And not just forgive him, but try and save him from the misery he let overwhelm his entire being. She had stayed strong when he had succumbed.
John looked at Elizabeth. He found not fear in her face and eyes, but worry, deep concern that he realized was intended for him. He was hurting her even now. But he would hurt her no more.
He pulled her close, nuzzling his face in her soft curls. They stuck to his cheeks where tears had begun to wet them. And he no longer fought the tears, now able to accept the grief and sorrow he was feeling, unafraid that she may think him weak. The grief and sorrow ebbed away from him, as she rubbed his back with her hands, her breath warming his neck, her head pressed against his cheek.
She shifted, moving her hands to lift his face, and he let her look upon his tear streaked features, into his mournful eyes. A hint of relief, of hope lay beneath the grief, and it made her smile. He would be okay. He just needed this, needed to face what had happened, to let her forgive him, to forgive himself. She ran her thumbs over his wet, cheeks, and let him hug her close again, burying his head in her shirt. His strong arms wrapped around her in a manner not unlike a child attempting to cuddle a parent.
Elizabeth stroked his head and neck, his back. Running her fingers through his hair, she lulled him to sleep, fighting the urge to sing a lullaby to him as well. He would be okay. Everything would be okay.
She woke up with a strong pair of arms wrapped around her waist, and a crick in her back from laying upon the hard floor all night with a rather stronger person clinging to her for dear life. John lay fast asleep, his head resting gently upon her stomach. She shifted trying to assess whether or not he was awake. This caused him to stir, nuzzle her stomach and squeeze her a little more tightly, but not wake.
Elizabeth pondered how much a single moment could change things. How horrible and alienated their relationship had become because of that one dreadful night. How one moment of honest connection, communication could fix things beyond what had been broken. And she felt good, really content for the first time in many, many months.
And the only worry Elizabeth currently possessed was how she was going to extricate herself from the clutches of the manly pilot who was currently sleeping like a baby and using her as a teddy bear.