Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or its characters…
Author's note: I wrote this a little while ago, and I'm not sure about the soundness of the plot of this fic (they for sure have gotten out of worse situations), or the time frame, or most details, but I just felt like playing with the characters…they are so much fun!
Maybe they should have sought out a different corner of Atlantis in which to anticipate their deaths. But what would the few extra seconds, a minute at the most, accomplish anyway? Did he really expect someone to swoop in and save them at the last second? Earth's ships were galaxies away, and so were the Asgard. Maybe a wraith ship?
John's eyes quickly scanned the horizon, spotting the fireworks that signaled the massive wraith attack raging above the city. Little did they know, it was about to end in a spectacularly dramatic way. But still, maybe someone up there knew, knew about them, would rescue them at any moment. Rodney could have figured out a way to save them, jerry-rigged a wraith dart or something…
Who was he kidding? Rodney was a billion miles away by now, back on Earth, evacuated with almost everyone else in Atlantis, everyone but John, John and someone he thought he'd never let die.
"Elizabeth," he whispered, as he turned to look at the woman who sat next to him, their backs against the wall, enjoying the view from their balcony for one last time. He needed to tell her something. He wasn't sure it would make him feel better about being responsible for her approaching death, but he had to say it. "I'm so-
"No," she cut him off, meeting and forcefully holding his gaze. "This is not your fault."
He'd like to believe her, and she was right in some sense. It wasn't his fault the Wraith had found them out, had attacked, that they couldn't mount an adequate defense, that they had to abandon Atlantis. But it was his fault that she was doomed to die along side him. He hadn't forced her to go through the gate with the others like he should have. She had insisted upon staying behind with him, to make sure that Atlantis didn't fall into Wraith hands, and in a moment of weakness, he had let her.
And guiltily, as their time quickly ran out in a manner that made it seem to stretch for an eternity, John felt pleased that she was there with him. Although the idea that she would perish as well tormented him, her presence was comforting and he selfishly relished it as the minutes to the self-destruct dwindled.
Considering his life seemed like an appropriate means to fill the silence as he waited for his imminent death, so John let his life flash before his eyes. Ultimately, he decided that although he hadn't made it long enough to have a proper mid-life crisis, it had been a fun, interesting ride. He had finally found a place where he truly belonged, where he served a purpose, where others loved him, where he had found people to call friends and more significantly, family. They wouldn't forget him, he was sure of that. And if even if they did, it was enough for John to know in his last moments alive that they would go on living, at least in part thanks to him.
He was pulled from his thoughts as he felt something cold snake along the inside of his arm and into his hand. It was Elizabeth's hand, seeking his out for some final connection, comfort? Studying her face he was surprised not to find fear there. But upon further thought, he realized he wasn't afraid either, at least not even near the point of anxiety. He was a little nervous inside, but he felt an odd sense of overwhelming calm encompassing him as he resigned himself to dying.
John opened his hand and allowed his fingers to intertwine with Elizabeth's delicate ones before closing it tightly again. She was so strong, her presence a blanketing tranquility. He didn't want to consider what his final moments alive would have been like without her…
Elizabeth studied her companion's face. He was a billion miles away. He might as well have been evacuated through the stargate to Earth with the others, he looked so distant. Maybe he was there with them in spirit…already. It was odd, Elizabeth thought she'd feel different if she knew she was about to die. She thought she'd panic or be more terrified than she was, but she felt calm and cool.
She had even been quite collected while she made the rash decision to stay behind as the others hastily fled the city. It was something she had to do. It probably wasn't necessary. One person could have started the city on its plunge into the frigid ocean before it exploded and set the ice water afire. But she couldn't leave him to die alone. John had done so much for them all, for her. He deserved better than to be abandoned to be swallowed by the cold impersonal sea.
Thus, she had stayed. He had yelled at her to go, but she had refused, standing obstinately in her position before the shimmering gate. It had closed, the power finally failing, switching over to carry out its dreadful mission; the destruction of Atlantis. She had seen the anger and sadness flash in his eyes, but it had disappeared after only a second, and by the time he had made his way down to her, it had been replaced by what she could only describe as relief and gratitude. Then, she had known she had made the right decision, the only decision she could have made.
He had brought her out to the balcony where they had spent so many moments in contemplative silence, discussed issues-hell, argued (might as well be truthful now), or offered their reserved support and comfort to one another; in short, where they commiserated as leaders and grew as friends. Then he had made a scene of nonchalant effort over sitting down with his back against the door. She had smiled and sat down next to him. He was John right up till the end.
And as she sat there, she couldn't help wondering what was going through his mind in the final moments of his life, their lives. Perhaps, John was contemplating his life. Did he have regrets? Did she? There was only one thing in her life that she hadn't done. Elizabeth had never really planned upon having a family, but it was something she always thought she'd have eventually. But in a way, being the leader of Atlantis was a lot like having children. Besides the obvious mediation of bickering siblings, there were the rewards of protecting them, watching them grow. All in all, Elizabeth had had a pretty amazing life, a little shorter than she had anticipated, but she regretted nothing in it.
"Elizabeth," John whispered drawing her attention away from her own thoughts. "I'm so-
"No," She commanded him, staring into his deep eyes. She wanted him to get this message clear. "This is not your fault."
She wasn't sure if he believed it, even if she could tell he knew that she believed it was the truth, that she didn't blame him for any of this. She continued to study his features as he looked back out over the city to the ocean beyond and the variegated sky above, flashing with the lights of Wraith weapons-fire. And she noticed something in him she hadn't before. He seemed calm, peaceful even. In her mind, John was always something of a hothead, highly emotional, although a good counsel and considerate man. So, she was surprised by the fact that he seemed resigned to his death, when he had always fought it to the last before.
And part of Elizabeth wanted to be included in that solidarity, to touch the tranquility he seemed to possess. She reached out her hand to touch his arm, and it gave her such solace that she sought out his hand. John looked at her, studying her face, no doubt attempting to ascertain her emotional state. Seeming to reach a decision, he took her hand with his, interlocking their fingers together. It was warm and comforting, and she no longer cared that this moment would be her last alive.
Elizabeth leaned her head against John's shoulder, and they sat in silence upon the balcony as the city began to sink. They remained seated with their hands locked together as the water lapped at the balcony's edge several short times before it began pouring over the rim.
It rapidly made its way to their still bodies, freezing them as it soaked their clothes and caressed their skin. The caress became a flood, and their grip on each other increased, not as much as in fear of their impending deaths, but in fear of being separated from one another. For both, being together at the end was the most important thing. Dying alone was not an option either was willing to accept.
Within seconds the water was threatening to wash them from the surface of Atlantis. And although they were not willing to leave the city, either, they saw that they might have to consign the notion in order to stay with one another.
A white light appeared before them, and they both instantly recognized its source.
"An ancient," Elizabeth whispered with some difficulty. The frigid water was beginning to take its toll on her, and very quickly they both would be treading water; something she was afraid she didn't have the energy for.
"It's about time those guys helped us out," John said sarcastically. He wasn't about to get his hopes up just because the ethereal beings showed up.
The form began to take shape slowly, and eventually they could make features out. A human face appeared amongst the mass of shimmering light.
"Elizabeth Weir and John Sheppard," it addressed them in near musical tones. "You have served well in protecting our former home and we have deemed you worthy of receiving an offer of assistance."
"And what is that?" John asked warily as he supported Elizabeth while they struggled to tread water. The city had already disappeared beneath them. Time was running out. It would soon explode. And the subsequent shockwave would kill them.
A/N: I couldn't let it end too badly!