INTO THE LIGHT...part one

"I hate caves," Rodney mumbled, as he stumbled over a rut.

John caught him by the arm and steadied him. "It was your idea to come in here, he reminded McKay. "How about that energy reading? Still got one?" The only light they had at the moment came from their P90's, but John didn't need it to know Rodney was glaring at him. He could almost feel the burn. It made him smile. Rodney angry was better than Rodney whiney.

A moment of silence and the sound of Rodney smacking his sensor, then a triumphant, "Aha! Dead ahead about forty feet. We're on to something." He sounded excited now.

"Lead on, McDuff," John said, clapping Rodney on the shoulder. He followed behind him hearing Ronon ask Teyla,

"Who's McDuff?"

John didn't bother to tell them. Not that he had the time. Rodney started running and he jogged to catch up with him. He was about to warn him about running in the dark when he realized he could see now. There was a glow of golden light shimmering through the darkness and creating soft shadows that danced along the glistening cave walls. It hit John now why he'd been feeling so cold. It was damp as hell. Weirdly though, he hadn't heard the sound of dripping water, although the cave walls were slick with it.

Rodney grabbed John by his jacket sleeve, tugging him closer to the light. "In there, look!" He pointed with a finger shaking with excitement. Or maybe fear.

There was slim archway to the left of them. It was obvious that's where the light was emanating from. John approached it cautiously, weapon at the ready, knowing Ronon and Teyla would have his back. As he reached the archway, he felt a sudden warmth. It was like summer hair ghosting over him, it's warmth melting away the chill and he felt himself relaxing a bit. But he was still sharply focused on his surroundings as he stepped inside.

"Well?" He could hear the impatient's in Rodney's tone.

"You can come in," John said, stepping aside so the other's could join him. Then he just stood there and took it all in.

Before them was a huge room, shaped like a dome. The walls looked half shiny gray rock and half crystalized. The rest of the interior was a mass of rubble and stone, but one section of wall looked a bit like a console station like those on Atlantis. But what drew John's attention was the chair in the center of the room. It was smaller than the chair on Atlantis, but it was glowing in a way that was far brighter than the Atlantis chair ever achieved.

Rodney bumped shoulders with John as he moved into the room and over to the console part. "Unbelievable," he whispered in passing.

"What is this place?" Teyla asked, as she and Ronon entered the room.

"Good question," John replied, glancing over at McKay.

But Rodney didn't notice, he was busy trying to make the console work. So John let him be for the moment, instead drifting over to the chair. He felt the drift of warmth again. It brushed over his skin like a soft caress, but this time it enveloped him and John could not resist reaching out to touch it. To see if it was as warm as it looked. But the moment his fingers touched the arm a flash of blinding white light enveloped the room.

For John there was no pain, only an incredible sense of heat. It rippled through him, flowing from head to toe in a rush that left him feeling both exhilerated and dizzy. He blinked hard and looked towards the others. He saw Rodney at the console, saw him slowly crumple to the ground. Saw Teyla and Ronon do the same as if they were moving in slow motion. And they were colored differently. No longer flesh with brown or black or grey uniforms. They were shimmery and golden, sparking in and out of solid form to lie in a glowing puddle.

John closed his eyes, wondering why he didn't feel afraid. He felt only a sense of joy and completion. But it was a fleeting moment. In the space between heartbeats he knew nothing but darkness.


"So what happened?" Elizabeth directed the question to Rodney, knowing he would be the one best able to explain it to her. Circled around her desk were Teyla and Ronon, along with Dr. Beckett. John was still in the infirmary. He had been unconscious since the team had returned to Atlantis, six hours ago. It had shaken Elizabeth to her very core to see John being carried through the gate in Ronon's arms.

Beckett had been waiting for them and John was settled on a gurney and whisked away. His team had followed, with Rodney promising to tell Elizabeth what he knew after they got checked over. What they really wanted to do was make sure John was all right. She had wanted the same thing so she gave them the time. But now was the time for answers.

Rodney fidgeted in his chair. "I don't know what happened. We found this cavern with a chair in it and a half console. It looked like the remains of an Ancient room."

"Reminded me of a ship," Ronon interjected.

"Really?" Rodney sounded surprised.

Ronon just shrugged at him.

Frowning, Rodney started typing on the laptop in front of him. "It could be a ship, I suppose. But unlikely. I mean. In order for the cave to have formed around it like it has, you're talking it would have to have been there for thousands and thousands of years. I doubt it's a ship."

"What else could it be?" Teyla queried.

"I have no idea. Yet!" Rodney replied. "If we could go back there - "

"No!" Elizabeth was quick to interject. "We don't know what happened to John and I'm not going to put anyone else at risk." She felt enough guilt as it was, always having to send her people out into dangerous situations.

Rodney heaved a dramatic sigh. "Whatever happened to Sheppard, happened because he still hasn't learned not to touch things unless I tell him to! I'm sure he'll be fine. His hair is just going to stand up more than it usually does."

Elizabeth glared at Rodney until he was shifting, uncomfortably, in his chair. Although she knew that he was just as worried about John as she was, sometimes Rodney needed to learn to keep his mouth shut. Feeling satisfied that Rodney wouldn't bring up returning to the planet again in the immediate future, Elizabeth turned her attention to Carson. "How is Colonel Sheppard doing?"

"He seems to be fine," Carson replied. "Other than not waking up. He is responsive to physical stimuli, and every test I've run checks out clean, clear and normal. So all we can really do is just wait." As he spoke, his ear piece beeped. Carson tapped it. "Beckett here." He listened for a moment then tapped off. "It appears Colonel Sheppard has excellent timing. He's awake."

"Can we see him now?" Elizabeth was already out of her chair.

Carson had been halfway out the door but he turned to her. "I'll call you." With that he was gone.

Elizabeth hid her disappointment as she dismissed the others. Then she resolutely turned on her laptop and made herself focus on the work to be done.


John felt fuzzy and achy as he came slowly to awareness. He heard a familiar beeping sound, although it confused him. Peeling his eyes open, he was surprised to see he was in the infirmary. The last thing he remembered was being in the cave on M3X-676. Shifting a bit to assess what did or didn't hurt, John realized he felt fine. A bit lethargic, and his head ached a bit, but otherwise he was fine.


He turned his head to see Beckett approaching. "Hey, Doc," John replied. "What's going on?"

Carson reached him, and the first thing he did was check John's vitals. He seemed satisfied. "I was rather hoping you could tell me what's going on, Colonel. You've been sleeping for six hours."

"What?" That surprised John, and it wasn't a pleasant surprise. "My team?"

"They're fine." Carson patted his shoulder and his voice was reassuring. "They're just worried about you. Do you remember what happened?"

Shifting again, so he could sit up better, John winced as he realized he had a catheter in him. "Uh...can we get rid of this, Doc?" he asked, waving a hand over his groin area.

Hiding a grin, Carson nodded. "In a bit. After we talk."

"Fair enough." John settled himself and focused on what he remembered. "We found a cave and followed an energy spike Rodney got on his sensor. We ended up in this cavern with a glowy chair. I touched the chair and that's all I remember. Till now." Although that wasn't strictly true. A name was floating in his memory and John whispered it without realizing it. "Marius."

"Who's Marius?" It was Rodney who asked, as he came striding over to John's bed.

Carson didn't let John reply. He was too busy glaring at Rodney. "Did I not tell the lot of you I'd let you know when you could visit with the Colonel?"

Rodney glared back at Beckett. "Yes, yes!" He waved a dismissive hand in the air. "But since when do I listen to you?" He shouldered past Carson to reach John. "So...who is Marius?"

"I'm not sure." John closed his eyes as he tried to pinpoint the memory, but that was all he came up with. "It's just a name that popped into my head."

"I'm going to check the Ancient data base," Rodney countered, looking excited. "If you remember anything else, call me!" He turned and exited the infirmary with the same bluster with which he had entered just moments before.

John shook his head, then laughed when he heard Rodney call over his shoulder,

"Glad you're okay!" It was muffled by the distance between them, but the sentiment was there.

"I am okay, right, Doc?" John asked Beckett. Because he really wanted the catheter out then to head to his room for a shower.

Carson studied him a moment, then nodded. "You appear to be. "I've run every test I can think of and nothing is showing up. But it's odd that you wouldn't wake up."

Not wanting to screw up his chance to get out of here, yet feeling like he needed to give Carson a reason, John made a little confession. "I didn't sleep all that great last night, so maybe I was just tired and catching up?" He thought that sounded reasonable enough.

"Could be that, I suppose," Carson allowed, even though his expression looked doubtful. "And before you ask to leave, I'm going to remove the catheter then you're going to eat, then I'll think about releasing you. Oh, and Dr. Weir wants to talk to you."

"I'll bet," John mumbled. Not that he had anything to tell her. Although he did behave himself while Beckett did his thing with the catehter, then he took a trip to the bathroom, grabbed a hot shower, pulled on scrubs and was back in bed and eating eggs and toast when Elizabeth arrived.

She was smiling. "You look like you're feeling better."

Swallowing a mouthful of toast, John replied, "Didn't know I was sick."

"You looked pale and lifeless when Ronon carried you through the gate," Elizabeth replied.

"He carried me?" John winced at that image. Not that it was the first time that had happened.

Elizabeth patted his shoulder. "All that matters is that you're okay. I spoke to Carson just now and he said he's going to release you. Only you won't be back on duty for 48 hours. He wasn't you under observation."

John was not happy to hear that and he let his fork clatter onto his plate. "I don't have to stay here, do I? I feel fine."

Right on cue, Carson appeared. "You can go back to your room, Colonel. But I do want you to check in every twelve hours and to call me if you feel any changes of any kind. And by that I mean headaches, or dizziness, nausea and the like."

"I can do that," John allowed, feeling relief flood through him. He'd do whatever Beckett wanted, so long as it kept him out of an infirmary bed. Pushing aside the table tray, John yanked the covers back and slid out of bed. But he didn't get to take a step before Beckett gripped his shoulder.

"I want you to get some rest, Colonel," Carson said sternly. "And by rest I mean you go to your room and crawl into bed. Understand?"

John nodded. "I got it. Rest. I'll do that." And he was pretty sure he would. He felt good but tired. A nap would be just the thing, then maybe he'd go hunt down Ronon for some sparring. He hadn't had his ass kicked by the big guy in a while. Since he had two days of down time, he might as well do something useful. Sparring with Ronon always kept John on his toes in a good way. Smiling at Beckett, John queried, "Can I go now?"

Carson nodded. "Aye. You can go."

"I'll walk you to your room," Elizabeth offered.

"Don't trust me to behave myself?" John countered, eyeing her warily.

She grinned at him, looking suddenly carefree. A look she didn't wear often. "Let's just say I'm keeping you company and leave it at that." Elizabeth was ever the diplomat.

Which John accepted. "Sounds like a plan." He searched the immediate area for his boots and stuffed his feet into them. He'd change into his own clothes when he got back to his room. Falling into step, he and Elizabeth exited the infirmary. The walk to his room was made in silence. John found himself lost in thought, wondering who Marius was and why the name kept popping up in his head.

"We're here, John." Elizabeth touched his shoulder.

He stiffened then stared at her, taking a moment to process what she was saying. Then it hit him and he nodded. "Sorry, guess I was zoning for a minute."

She eyed him with concern. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine." He said it firmly. "I'm gonna take a nap then go pester Rodney in the lab or something. Don't worry about me." Smiling to prove his point, John thought his door open and stepped inside. He kicked off his boots and crawled into bed. He really was feeling tired. By the time he closed his eyes, he was asleep.


He slept for four hours, coming awake abruptly from a strange dream. Stranger still was the fact that he didn't remember any of it, other than a lingering feeling of anxiety, which he tried to wash away in the shower. Once he was dried off and dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, John contacted Ronon. The Satedan was more than willing to spar with him, so they met up in the transporter then headed for the gym.

John was grateful for the fact that Ronon didn't ask him how he was feeling, although he could tell the big guy was keeping a watchful eye on him. That he could deal with.

They didn't chat much on the way, being that neither of them were big on talking anyway. So they walked in a companionable silence, with Ronon mentioning that Teyla had gone to the mainland earlier. Halling had asked to see her and John was about to ask if everything was okay when he heard shouting.

It was coming from the gym and John sprinted off, hearing Ronon's heavy footfalls gaining behind him. They reached the doorway together and John saw two of his marines slugging each other. Before he could respond, Ronon was rushing past him. That spurred John into action. He had to stop this. He had to stop the fighting before it escalated into war. They were good people, good leaders. If they went to war they would regret the bloodshed and the loss of life. He had to make them see that.

Rushing between them, John pushed them away from each other, keeping in the middle. "Enough!" he roared. "Do you wish death upon your people? Are you ready to lose so much?"

The men stared at him, both of them heaving for breath, anger still blazing in their eyes.

John knew he had to reach them. To reason with them. A war would destroy everything. They had to understand that. "I won't let you do this," John told them. You cannot sacrifice innocent lives because of something so petty as anger! You cannot stain your lands with the blood of family and friends!"


He heard someone calling his name but would not allow himself to become distracted. He stared at the men who would risk so much for so little. They looked confused and scared and that fear was a good thing. They should be afraid to bring death upon so many.

John knew he was reaching them, and he reached out to them both with a hand, only to find himself grabbed and hauled away from them. He struggled against the arms that held him, kicking out to free himself. If he was taken away now there would be war and he could not let that happen. But the arms holding him were stronger than he was and he was pinned down and there were others over him, but he could not hear them clearly. There was a sting of pain in one arm and darkness claimed him.


"What the hell happened?" Elizabeth asked, as she paced at the end of John's bed.

Ronon sat on the end of another bed, watching her. "Hell if I know," he replied. "One minute we're heading for the gym to spar and the next thing I know, Sheppard is freaking out."

Rodney was sitting in a chair, laptop cradled in his arms. He had been watching Sheppard, but now he looked at Ronon. "Who's been teaching you things like freaking out and hell?"

"You guys," Ronon replied.

"Oh." Rodney didn't have a come back for that, so he went back to looking at Sheppard who was still on the bed.

Elizabeth stopped pacing to watch Sheppard as well. Carson had been forced to sedate him. She had the statements from the marines in the gym, along with Ronon's. Only John could tell them what really had happened, but it was obvious he had hallucinated in some way, about something. Carson had run more tests, but they came back clean. Which worried Elizabeth more than she wanted to admit. "What is going on here?" It was a rhetorical question.

But Rodney answered her. "Zelenka and I might have found something," he stated. When Ronon and Weir turned to look at him with their full attention, he continued. "We found the name Marius in the data base. The interesting thing is that he seems to be the First One."

"First one?" Ronon echoed.

"Yes." Rodney grimaced then struggled to explain. "He's the first of his kind and the creator of others."

Elizabeth looked surprised. "Like God?"

Rodney shrugged. "Maybe. I guess. I mean...God supposedly has just always been, but it doesn't read like that in the data base. It very specifically says that Marius is the First One."

"What else did you find out about this Marius?" Elizabeth prompted. She figured the more they knew the better. Maybe there was something that could explain what had happened with John.

"He had a ship called the Faellin," Rodney continued, warming to the subject. "He's really quite fascinating, if his history is to be believed."

Elizabeth held up a hand to cut Rodney off so she could ask a question. "Is Marius human?"

Rodney made a face at that. "He was Ancient as far as I can tell. But he lived as a human many times over. Basically, the history says that he is the First One but that he was reborn time and again. He lives as a mortal with many faces, even though he is immortal. His spirit will live on through eternity. Zelenka likened him to the Highlander, but that's wrong. The Highlander was the same person taking on a new identity time and again so people wouldn't realize he never changed. But according to the history of Marius, he is reborn and lives out that life, dies as that person then is reborn and lives again. Although he doesn't, technically, ever die. He just goes to spirit form till he's ready to be born again. At least, that's how I'm undestanding it."

"How does this connect to John?" Elizabeth asked, because that's what she was interested in most.

"I have no clue!" Rodney replied, sounding defensive. "You'll have to ask Sheppard that when he wakes up!"

Elizabeth sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. She could feel a headache coming on. "Tell Carson to call me when John wakes up," she ordered Rodney, because she assumed he would be sticking around for a while. As she walked out she paused to look back. Ronon had left, striding past her on her way out, but Rodney had his laptop open and was talking as fast as he was typing. She knew John was in good hands. She just hoped that when he woke up, everything would be okay.

THE END...of part one


John woke up feeling queasy. Apparently Beckett was ready for that, because a pan appeared beneath his chin even as John sat up and gagged. He brought up mostly bile, but the puking wore him out. Still he took a moment to rinse his mouth with the water and mouth wash mix that Carson gave him, then he sagged back against the pillows.

"Sorry about that, Colonel," Carson apologized. "I had to give you a pretty heavy sedative."

"That would explain why I feel so shitty," John replied. He lifted a hand to rub at his eyes, trying to rid them of the gritty feeling. After a few moments he started feeling a bit better. Less lethargic and more clear headed. Clear headed enough to remember what had happened. Mostly.

Carson seemed to sense his struggle because he asked, "What do you remember, Colonel?"

John took a moment to consider his reply. He knew the facts, but there were moments that were cloudy and uncertain. "Ronon and I went to the gym."

"That's right," Carson confirmed. "Then what?"

"I'm not sure." John closed his eyes a moment as he tried to remember. "I think a couple of marines were fighting and we tried to stop it."

Carson patted John's arms. "That's what Ronon told us." That was all he said, but he looked like he was waiting for John to say more.

Only he wasn't sure what else to say. He pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to make sense of things. "It gets muddled after that," John confessed. "Did we go on a mission?"

"Why do you ask that?" Carson looked surprised and there was a vague sense of unease in his tone.

"I..I sort of remember trying to stop a war...or something." John realized he wasn't making much sense. "It's not clear. What happened, Doc?" He really needed to know.

Sighing softly, and looking reluctant, Carson never the less explained. "You did catch a couple of marines fighting, Colonel. Then you slipped off into some hallucination. Or something like that. You seemed to think the marines who were fighting were the heads of a village or something and that they were about to go to war and you were trying to stop them." Carson put up a hand when John started to protest. "Mind you, this is all mostly hearsay from Ronon and the marines who were there. We don't know exactly what we saw. We just know what they heard and you were desperate for them to stop fighting. To not start a war they would regret."

The memory slithered back to John, coiling tightly and making him feel like he was going to choke. Because it had felt so real. But he didn't tell Carson he remembered. He didn't want to remember because it made no sense. "When can I get out of here, Doc?" John asked. He wanted to go to his room and be alone so he could think about what happened.

"Not till tomorrow, laddie." Carson sounded apologetic. "I want to keep an eye on you and...I know you're not going to like this, Colonel, but both Dr. Weir and I agree that you should talk to Kate."

"Why? Because you think I'm losing it?" John snapped back. And he was angry even though he knew Carson had a right to push him into doing it. Because what had happened in the gym didn't make sense to any of them.

Shaking his head, Carson patted John on the shoulder. "I think you're tired and stressed and that you've been through alot since you've come here, Colonel," he said gently. "I also think you're long overdue for a chat with Kate. She doesn't bite, you know."

John realized he was reacting too strongly to what was nothing more than a chat with the base psychologist. It wasn't as if he hadn't talked to them in the past. He'd always done it to make sure he could keep flying. Now he would do it to keep his job on Atlantis. "I know," he replied, feeling a bit sheepish. "I'm not showing anything in any tests, am I? I haven't found anything wrong with me, have you?"

"Nothing." Carson spoke with certainty. "Which is why I think a chat with Kate will do you a world of good, Colonel. If you're feeling up to it we'll get you to the bathroom then get you something to eat. Then I'll call Kate and you can have a talk with her, then get some sleep and tomorrow you'll be back in your own quarters."

"But not back on duty?" John already knew the answer to that question.

"I'd like to keep you under observation for 48 hours then we'll go from there," Carson replied. "But I will let you go on light duty. You can attend meetings and such. I believe Dr. Weir has one scheduled for tomorrow afternoon."

John fully intended to be there. He plastered a smile on his face and shoved the covers back. He was grateful to find himself in scrubs and he was steady on his feet when he stood up. "I'll handle the bathroom, Doc," he stated. "How about you rustle me up some eggs and what passes for bacon around here?"

Carson grinned back at him. "I can do that, Colonel. Don't be long," he admonished, wagging a finger at John.

"Yes, mom," John drawled, getting a different finger waggled at him for his troubles. Chuckling to himself he headed for the bathroom. He took care of business then washed his hands and splashed cold water on his face. It helped chase away the lingering sense of lethargy that was still clinging to him from the sedative. After drying his face on a towel, John stared at his reflection in the mirror. He didn't look any different, yet he felt different somehow. In a way he couldn't define. But he didn't want to think about that now. He stomach was rumbling. He wanted to eat, get his talk with Kate over with, then get back into his routine.

Things flowed along pretty well up until Kate's arrival. By that time John felt fidgety and anxious to get out of the infirmary and out of bed period. He wasn't sick so being stuck here was rubbing his nerves raw. So he was feeling a bit edgy and defensive by the time Kate sat down to chat.

"How are you feeling, Colonel?" she asked, politely.

"Peachy," he shot back, wincing at the sharpness in his tone. He knew she wasn't here to punish him, but he felt like he was being punished none the less. Still, he didn't need to take his bad mood out on her, so he apologized. "Sorry. I'm feeling a bit testy right now," John explained.

Kate nodded, offering a warm smile. "I know you don't want to talk to me, Colonel. But I really think your'e past due. As good as you are at handling things both physically and emotionally, there are times when you need to talk about it."

John could not have disagreed more, and he said as much. "Why? Why do I have to talk about it? It's no one's business but my own. Talking about it won't change anything. It won't make me feel better."

"How do you know?" Kate countered, not missing a beat. "Do you ever talk to anyone?"

"Can we change the subject to the point at hand?" John deflected. Because arguing with her was just wasting both their times. He could tell that Kate was going to be just as stubborn about her point of view as he was about his own. Stalemate. He was willing to move on. He just wanted to pass inspection and get out of here.

"We can do that," Kate allowed, looking relieved. "Tell me what happened in the gym."

So John recounted to her what he had told Carson.

Kate looked intrigued, and she scribbled on the notepad she had on her lap. "So you don't remember what happened clearly?" she prompted.

"It feels vague now," John replied. "But it felt real at the time."

"Is it something you've dreamed about, or something you've come across in your past?" Kate asked.

John considered the possiblity of it having been a past event, but shook his head. "No. I've never been in that situation before. To be honest, it's like it wasn't me doing that. I can't explain what I mean exactly...but it's like it was someone else, yet it was me. Which...I know...makes no sense at all." John felt angry with himself for admitting something that was liable to get him locked up in a padded room. Or, at the very least, kept off duty for a while. He didn't like either option.

Surpringly, Kate stood up then moved to John's side. She smiled at him. "For the record, Colonel...I don't think you're crazy. And given where we are, I don't discount anything people tell me. You were in contact with Ancient technology. Neither Dr. McKay nor Dr. Beckett think anything happened to you. But, in all honesty, we don't know that. Then again, what happened in the gym could just be built up stress coming out in a way you aren't prepared for. It could be a manifestion of your dreams, your memories or even your subconscious fears."

"Bottom line being?" John prompted, because he really wasn't sure what she was leading up to.

"Bottom line," Kate echoed, then continued. "Is that I believe what you're telling me. You're not sure what happened or why, but I don't see as it having harmed anyone. Dr. Beckett wants to keep you under observation for two days. I think that's the best course of action for now. If nothing else occurs, we'll both release you back to full duty." She offered a grin now. "Was that so bad, Colonel?"

John made a face, then nodded. He had to give her that one. "My not wanting to talk to you is nothing personal, you know that. Right?"

Kate nodded. "I know. But if you feel like you want to talk, even off the record, my door is always open."

"Thanks." John appreciated the offer. And he was relieved that things had gone so smoothly. He wasn't thrilled he was still stuck in the infirmary till tomorrow, but he would deal with it.

"You're welcome." Kate patted his arm. "I'll check in with you tomorrow." With that she turned and walked away.

John had just settled himself into the pillows when Rodney appeared. To be honest, he was glad to see him. It was boring just laying around with nothing to do. At least McKay would keep him amused. And, hopefully, distract him from the fact that he still felt a bit jumpy.

Moving to John's side, Rodney grinned at him. A cat ate the canary, kind of grin.

"What are you up to?" John asked, narrowing his gaze at Rodney in suspicion.

"Nothing," Rodney replied. "But I do have something interesting to tell you. About Marius." Without waiting for John's reaction, he revealed everything he had told Elizabeth and the others earlier. "Fascinating, isn't it?"

John didn't reply at first, he was too busy trying to comprehend everything Rodney had just told him. "So Marius was like a god?" he asked after a long moment of silence.

Rodney shrugged. "Something like that. But the coolest thing is that Ronon was right about it being a ship. What we found that is."

"What?" John was confused.

"Oh, that's right, you weren't there when we discussed it before. Sorry." Rodney waved his hands at John then grabbed a chair. "Ronon said the cavern felt like a ship to him and I told him it couldn't be, but he was right. The Faellin."

That puzzled John. "Why would Marius need a ship if he was a spirit?"

"Is a spirit," Rodney interjected. "I couldn't convince Elizabeth to let me go back there, but she did send Lorne's team and I just got word from them that the chair is still glowing. Of course, Elizabeth won't let them go in the room or anything, but the fact that it's still glowing means he's still there."

"And I should care about that why?" John prompted.

Rodney gave him a look that strongly implied he thought John was an idiot. "Because that means you haven't been taken over by some alien being or anything. We've had enough of that anyway. It's a good thing, Sheppard. And Beckett has confirmed that you're fine. No alien antibodies or nanites or anything."

There was a part of John that was relieved to hear that, but another part of him wasn't so happy. He was glad he was alien entity free, but that meant the only explanation for what happened in the gym was psychological. Which was depressing. John didn't want to think about that right now. He pointed to Rodney's laptop. "Got any games on that we could play?" He really needed a distraction.

"Name the game," Rodney replied, as he opened the laptop and prepared to play.


John was released the next day as promised. He behaved himself by eating well and getting some sleep when ordered. He didn't dream which was a relief, or he didn't remember if he did, which was just as good. But he did still feel a bit agitated when he woke up, which was starting to irritate him. But he shrugged it off as best he could, opting for a run the moment he got back to his room and changed into sweats. He ran for half an hour, then took a shower, caught up on his emails, then headed for the conference room for Elizabeth's meeting.

Teyla still wasn't back from the mainland, but she had checked in, asking to be picked up and returned, so she could pop in at any moment.

Dropping down into the chair to Elizabeth's immediate right, John glanced around the table. Basically this was a department head meeting. Ronon was included, as Teyla would be were she here, because John believed they had a right to be involved since they were representatives of their worlds. Elizabeth had agreed with him. Department head meetings tended to be boring, but since he couldn't go offworld, John was almost looking forward to this one. Which was rather pathetic on his part, but the way it was all the same.

John was just starting to pick at his nails when Elizabeth started the meeting. She got an update from Rodney on all that was happening in the science departments, and John had updated himself through email so he gave his own short report on the military status. Beckett was next with his report on Medical then Elizabeth announced that Ronon would be joining Lorne's team for a mission later today. Which surprised John.

"Why wasn't I notified about this?" he interjected, feeling anger stirring inside him.

"I just informed you," Elizabeth replied. "You know you're out of the loop a bit when you're in the infirmary, Colonel." Her tone was pleasant but firm, letting him know she wasn't going to discuss this further.

So John let it go, because he knew she was right. He glanced over at Ronon, catching the Satedan's eyes. They didn't need words for Ronon to send the message that he had requested to go. John understood. Ronon liked to keep busy. It wasn't fair of John to keep him Atlantis bound just because he was stuck here for two days. Glancing over at Rodney, John asked, "You going too, McKay?"

Rodney snorted. "Of course not. Not my team, they have their own scientist and I have plenty of things to do here on Atlantis until you're cleared."

"Right." John said nothing more, but he was pleased with Rodney's reply. With Rodney sticking around, at least John could pester him when he got bored.

The rest of the meeting passed rather swiftly, and John mostly paid attention. He fiddled with a pen when he wasn't interested in what was being said. Then Elizabeth announced they could leave and John was the first for the door.

Which Teyla entered just as he reached it. She smiled at him.

He smiled back, reaching for her hands. He had missed her so much. "Odella," John breathed, pulling her into his embrace. She was small and almost delicate, yet he could feel her strength. He was proud of it in fact. Easing away, he saw the confused look on her face. "You've been gone for so long."

"John," Teyla replied.

He frowned at her. "John?" he echoed, and in that moment he remembered who he was. He pulled away from Teyla, feeling a wave of dizziness. Hands gripped him but he shook them off. "No..I'm fine!"

Carson was there, pushing him into a chair. "You don't look fine!" he snapped, gripping John by the chin and studying him.

"You did it again, didn't you?" Rodney stated, coming around the table and hovering next to John. "You just hallucinated. Do you remember it?"

"I didn't...I.." But John knew it had happened again. He remembered it this time, but even if he hadn't, he wouldn't be able to forget given the looks on everyone's faces. He didn't know what to say to make it all right. To make them just forget about this. He could see Beckett forcing him to talk to Kate again. He didn't want to talk to her. He wasn't sick. This was nothing. Only, he didn't know an Odella, so what the hell was going on?"

Zelenka, who had been sitting off in the corner and typing madly throughout most of the meeting, suddenly spoke up. He sounded excited. "I checked the data base and there is mention of Odella!" he said, his voice cutting through the tension in the room. "She was Marius's mate. The mother of their children." He paused to blush and run a hand through his wild wisps of hair. "Of which their appears to have been many," he concluded.

Elizabeth looked intrigued. "So Odella was real? Is she still alive like Marius?"

"No. She was not immortal like he is," Zelenka replied.

John was not happy with the conversation. He hated the fact that he had just called Teyla by the name of some dead woman from lord knows how many thousands of years ago. This wasn't good. He knew it wasn't good.

Carson confirmed it. "We need to get you back to the infirmary, Colonel. We'll run another round of tests."

"No!" John was on his feet and pushing Carson away from him. "I'm not going back to the infirmary! I'm not sick!"

"Colonel!" Elizabeth's voice cut like a knife, startling them all.

But John wasn't going to listen to her, because he already knew what she was going to say. Instead he turned on his heel and headed for the door. But Ronon cut him off. John glared at him. "Move!"

Ronon didn't budge. "Can't do that, Sheppard," he rumbled.

So John did the only thing he could. He made a feint and almost made it around the big gun when an arm went around him and he hit the floor hard. Hard enough to take the breath out of him. He lay there for a moment, Ronon pinning him. He vaguely heard Carson's voice, but he wasn't sure what the Doc was saying. He blinked hard, bringing everyone back into focus as his breathing eased back to normal. He hated the way everyone was looking at him. With pity. He wasn't going crazy. "I'm sorry," John said, turning his head to look at Weir. She was kneeling to his right. "Tell Ronon to let me up. I won't run. I promise."

"John." Elizabeth sounded upset and she shook her head.

"Just let me up, okay? Ronon can hold on to me even." John realized he was begging and he didn't care. He hated being pinned down. He wanted to be standing and free of them all. They were looking at him like he was crazy and he wanted to punch all of them because of it. It didn't help that he was feeling agitated again, like he wanted to jump out of his skin.

To John's relief, Elizabeth suddenly nodded and he found himself being hauled up by Ronon. THe moment he was steady on his feet, John shifted his balance, sagging hard and causing Ronon to stumble. John then twisted, and using a move that the Satedan had shown him just a few weeks ago, he took the big guy down. The need to run was powerful and John headed for the door.

Teyla moved to block his way.

John skidded to a halt. He couldn't hit her. He couldn't take her down like that. Before he got a chance to beg her to move, he was on the floor again. Ronon held him down hard, unmovable against John's struggles. Not that they lasted long. Beckett was there, grabbing his sleeve, swiping his arm then John felt the expected sting. He welcomed the darkness that claimed him.

THE END...of part 2


Elizabeth studied John as he lay, compliant, on the infirmary bed. He looked peaceful in his drug-induced slumber. Peaceful and young and somehow vulnerable. "What's wrong with him?" she asked, when she felt Carson move to join her.

But it was Rodney who replied, looking up from his laptop screen. "He's not crazy!" he snapped. "If that's what you're thinking!"

"I'm not thinking that, Rodney," Elizabeth replied, keeping her tone neutral. She knew that he was just upset about what was happening with John. She knew they were friends, although both of them would vehemently deny it if pressed. "But something is wrong."

"Aye, that it is," Carson replied. "He's obviously hallucinating, but I don't know what's causing it. There doesn't seem to be a chemical imbalance or anything neurological that we've been able to detect."

Rodney heaved a dramatic sigh, drawing their attention. "He thought Teyla was Odella, Marius's wife. Obviously, when Sheppard touched the chair, a part of Marius's spirt...or whatever you want to call it...touched him in some way."

Elizabeth was surprised by how vague Rodney sounded. How uncertain he seemed about what he was saying. Rodney was usually adamant and all about the facts. "Is that even possible?" she queried.

"Apparently!" Rodney countered, sharply. "This is the Pegasus galaxy. I think we've seen the impossible happen time and again. He saw Marius's wife."

"But you said that Marius didn't take over other people's bodies," Carson pointed out.

Rodney sighed again, quietly this time. "From the information Lorne brought back, the Chair is still active and glowy, so I believe Marius is still there. I don't think he took over Sheppard's body. I'm just not sure what did happen." He studied John a moment, then looked at Carson. "How long before he wakes up?"

Carson shrugged. "Hard to tell with him. Considering what I gave him, should be a few more hours."

"I'll be in my lab, call me when he wakes up." Rodney got to his feet and made to head out.

Elizabeth grabbed his arm. "Rodney, go get some sleep. That's more important right now. John is fine for the moment." She hoped to reassure him with her words, as much as any of them could be reassured.

Rodney tugged his arm free and continued on without responding.

"We're all worried," Carson said softly.

"I know." Elizabeth forced a smile, then she looked at John one last time before moving away herself. "I'll be in my office," she announced. "Call me with any news." She watched Carson nod then she headed for the door, feeling his eyes watching her.


He felt cold and jittery and confused. Opening his eyes, John realized he was in the infirmary. The lights were low so it must be night time. He appeared to be alone, so he slid out of bed. He remembered what happened. It made him feel ill, remembering the way everyone had looked at him. He didn't understand what was happening. Why he was seeing things that weren't real to him. But John knew he had to fix this. He had to fix himself.

He made it too his room and used the bathroom. He stripped off the scrubs when he was finished, dressing quickly in his uniform and grabbing his thigh holster. He strapped it on, checked his gun, shrugged on his jacket and headed out to the jumper bay. He needed to go back to the chair. Maybe if he touched it again, everything would go back to normal. He craved that more than anything right now. Not that his normal was completely sane, but it was his life and he wanted it back the way it was supposed to be.

Anyone else would have had a bit of trouble slipping into the Jumper bay unannounced, but Atlantis liked John and he knew a few things about making her work in his favor that he hadn't even shared with Rodney. Which made John feel a twinge of guilt, that he quickly stifled. He'd consider sharing later. Right now, he was a man on a mission.

Slipping inside the bay, John headed to his favorite Jumper. He knew how to get out without asking for permission. He could override the bay doors and even get the jumper to open the gate for him. But what he hadn't counted on was Ronon appearing, as if out of the shadows, to confront him.

"Going somewhere, Sheppard?" Ronon asked, arms crossed over his chest and looking as immovable as a mountain.

"Move, Ronon!" John ordered, because he could do that. He was Ronon's commanding officer and if told the man to move, then he was supposed to move. Only Ronon wasn't budging. Not even an inch. John felt that jittery feeling flooding through him to the point where he was tempted to punch the Satedan, just because.

Ronon shifted a bit, moving closer. "You need to go back to the infirmary before you're missed."

John shook his head. He couldn't go back there. "I need to figure out what's happening to me," he replied, and he wondered if he sounded as desperate as he felt. "I just...I need some time alone. Just a little while."

"You don't need the jumper for that," Ronon pointed out.

"Maybe not," John drawled, because he was stalling for time. Not that he had alot of it to spare. He knew Carson had to be missing him already. And sure enough, right on cue, Ronon's radio beeped.

It was just enough of a distraction for John to make his move. He shoved Ronon, hard, setting him off balance enough so the Satedan stumbled and had to catch himself. John darted around him and into the Jumper, sealing the door closed with a thought. Then he was in the pilot's seat, body trembling, willing himself to relax. He just needed a moment to pull himself together.

There was a pounding on the doors, but John closed the bulkheads. He didn't want to listen to it. He had no doubt but that Ronon would have told Elizabeth where he was and what he was doing and they would be coming for him soon. But he wasn't in any condition to fly at the moment. His head was aching, he felt sick to his stomach and he couldn't stop shaking. The jittery feeling wouldn't go away either. Jumping to his feet, John started pacing. He felt like he was ready to jump out of his skin.

There wasn't alot of room to pace, and he stumbled once. Catching himself with a hand on the back of the pilot's seat, John suddenly froze. He wasn't alone.

Sitting on the floor was a small boy with red hair. He knew him. "Jethre," John whispered, moving to the boy's side and crouching beside him. "What are you doing, son?" he asked.

Jethre looked up from the ball he was rolling on the floor and smiled at him. "Play with me, daddy," he beseeched him.

"Of course." John moved to sit down, then he reached out to ruffle Jethre's hair but his hand passed through him, dissolving the image. Shock froze John for a moment, then he was on his feet and punching the wall before he realized what he was doing. "Dammit!" he snarled, staring at his bruised knuckles. He wasn't crazy! But this had to stop. He just didn't know how to make it stop. "Why are you doing this to me?" John shouted. He knew Marius, if real or imagined, wouldn't answer him, but he willed him too. But there was no reply, just a sudden rush of fear and anger that had John trashing the jumper from end to end.

He lost track of time, not feeling a single injury he had caused himself, when the bulkhead doors opened. Ronon was the first one through the door and John didn't move from the floor. He just sat there, staring at his bruised and bloodied hands, and started laughing.

Carson was the next one through the door, followed closely by Rodney, who was hugging his laptop to his chest. John saw Elizabeth move to the side, watching him. He didn't care. He didn't resist when Carson spoke to him, then took his arm and gave him a shot. He welcomed the darkness that wrapped around him, snuffing out the sound of his own laughter.

John welcomed the silence.


Rodney sat in the corner of Elizabeth's office. She was going to determine Sheppard's fate. It felt wrong. The man was in the infirmary, heavily sedated, unable to participate in the discussion that would decide his future. Rodney felt like blowing something up just to cause a distraction that would prevent this meeting from taking place. But he knew blowing something up wasn't a recourse open to him, so instead he settled for glaring at Elizabeth, Carson and kate. The trio were grouped around Elizabeth's death, heads bent, whispering.

"Rude much!" Rodney snapped. He was pleased when they stopped talking, and he completely ignored the way Elizabeth stared at him. "What are you whispering about?" he demanded, even though he already knew they were discussing Sheppard.

"Rodney, this isn't easy for any of us," Elizabeth began.

He waved her off. "It shouldn't be easy," he shot back. "I heard Carson in the infirmary earlier. I know you think Sheppard's gone looney tunes. But he hasn't."

It was Carson who responded. "Do you have a better idea of what's happening then?" he countered, looking as tired as Rodney felt. "Because I'm open to any and all suggestions."

"I need to go back and study the chair," Rodney stated, looking at Elizabeth.

She shook her head at him. "What we need to do right now is decide what to do with Colonel Sheppard. Given his behavior tonight, I don't think we have very many choices left."

Rodney felt panic flutter through him. "You're going to send him back to Earth, aren't you? You're going to send him back and let them lock him up in a padded room!"

"Not if I can help it," Elizabeth replied, looking both hurt and frustrated. "Rodney...all any of us want to do right now is to help John. But there's nothing Carson can do so we have to look into other options."

"If you're not sending him back to Earth, then what?" Rodney had to ask, even though he was rather afraid of the answer he was going to get.

Kate intercepted this one. "I'm going to try and work with Colonel Sheppard. To see if I can draw out of him what's going on in his head. This could very well be symptomatic of PTSS and the event of him connecting with the Chair and, perhaps, with this Marius...maybe it set things off."

Rodney figured she might be right, but she still hadn't answered his question. Not really. "So what then? You keep him in his room under guard, or a prisoner in the infirmary?" He knew Sheppard would hate either option.

"We're going to set up a suite of rooms that will be suitable for the Colonel," Carson replied.

It was his tone of voice that clued Rodney in to what he really meant. "Oh, I see...he's going to get a suite of padded rooms. Right?" The look on Carson's face was all the answer Rodney needed. "You can't do that to Sheppard! He's not crazy!"

Elizabeth was on her feet and by Rodney's side, gripping his shoulder and making him look at her. "John trashed a Jumper and injured himself in the process, Rodney!" Her voice was soft but laced with steel. She wanted him to understand the reality of what was happening. She wasn't going to let him ignore the truth. "Whatever this is that Colonel Sheppard is going through, he needs our help. So that's what we're going to do. We're going to help him the best way we can."

"Which means locking him up and throwing away the key!" Rodney snapped back at her.

"Give me another option," Elizabeth challenged him. "Please."

But Rodney didn't have any and they both knew it. He felt sick to his stomach and guilty as sin. He knew what had happened to Sheppard wasn't his fault, but Rodney felt like he had just failed the Colonel. Spectacularly. "When are you moving him?"

Carson had moved to Rodney's side as well and he patted him on the shoulder with a heavy hand. "He'll be moved within the hour. It's just a suite of rooms so he won't be on display. We've taken care that there's nothing he can hurt himself with and he will be locked in, but it's for his own protection. It's what's best for him right now."

"Sure." Rodney shrugged off Carson's hand and moved to the door. "I'm gonna go sit with him," he announced, then he slipped out and made his way to the transporter. He knew Ronon and Teyla were with Sheppard now and he would join them. Because they were a team and this thing with Sheppard wasn't going to change that. Rodney wouldn't let it. He would find a way to save Sheppard. It was his turn after all.


John woke up in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room. That was two days ago.

He had slept alot after first waking up. The sedative Beckett had given him had been strong. So he basically slept and trudged to the bathroom the first day. Day two was mostly a repeat of day one, only including a shower and changing into a fresh set of scrubs. Then a bit of exploring to learn that he mostly had scrubs and some sweat pants and t-shirts to wear. No uniforms, no weapons, no utensils or mirrors or anything he could shatter or break. Which amused him on some level.

He didn't talk those first two days. Nor did he let anyone visit with him, although everyone tried. Beckett, Elizabeth, his team and Kate. John didn't say one word to any of them, although he listened carefully to everything they said to him.

Ronon told him about what happened in the Jumper. John was almost relieved to remember the event the same way. Of course, he was the only one who knew about seeing the little boy. He wasn't going to share that information any time soon. Teyla talked to him about everyone else and their concern for him. He appreciated her words, even though they felt a bit empty to him.

Beckett and Elizabeth both explained to him why he was in this new set of rooms and why he was locked in, and they both swore they would do everything they could to keep him on Atlantis. That bit of information had shaken John a bit. He didn't realize he was in danger of being sent back to Earth until now. Although it made sense. He was of no use to anyone on Atlantis in his present condition.

Kate tried to get him to talk about what had happened in the jumper and John had completely ignored her. He knew she couldn't help him. He knew this wasn't PTSS. He didn't know what the hell it was, but it wasn't PTSS.

Rodney talked to him about Marius, asking him what had happened in the jumper then leaving, muttering to himself, when John just stared at him. He didn't want to talk to any of them, he just wanted to figure out what was wrong.

When Rodney came back that night and offered him a candy bar, John took it then asked, "Did Marius have a son named Jethre?"

"What?" Rodney had been about to take a bite of his own candy bar, but he dropped it when John spoke. "What did you just ask me?" he countered.

"In the jumper I saw a little boy with red hair. His name is Jethre." John tossed the candy bar aside and began to pace. But after a moment he pushed his back against the wall then slid down to the floor. "Do you think I'm crazy?" he asked. Because if anyone would be honest to him about this, it would be McKay."

For a moment Rodney just stared at John, as if he had two heads or something, but then he moved to sit on the end of the bed. He was directly across from where John was sitting. "You're not crazy," he stated, sounding very sure of himself.

It made John smile, but only for a moment. The smile wavered all too soon as doubt crept over him. "I'm not crazy," he whispered.

"I know," Rodney confirmed. "Although you do a fair imitation of it." His eyes went wide as he realized what he'd just said. "Oh no! I didn't mean that!"

"Yeah, you did," John replied, but he could almost laugh about it. Almost. "It kinda feels like I am sometimes, but I'm not. I know I'm not. I know what I saw wasn't real. Not to me. But it was real." He knew he was explaining this badly, but he didn't know how else to say it.

Rodney seemed to get it though. "It's real to Marius," he said softly.

John nodded, feeling undeniably grateful that Rodney understood.. "It's not just things I see," he continued. "Sometimes it's just feelings. They're not mine though. Marius lived a thousand lifetimes." John didn't think about what he was saying, he just knew it was true. And in that moment he watched Rodney fade away from his vision, his image replaced by that of a city in ruins. A fantastic city to rival Atlantis in her prime. A city now nothing but rubble and ashes and littered with the bodies of the dead. Too many dead. Too many lost.

In the blink of an eye the image faded, but the memory was still fresh and painful and the emotions that twisted through John were strong. He felt anger and sadness and despair. He shook with the intensity of them, shook with the grief at so much loss. So many lives ended in one fell swoop. He felt wetness on his face and lifted a hand to feel tears sliding down his cheeks. That shook John to his very core. He never cried.

He didn't hear Rodney call for Carson. He didn't feel the arms that wrapped around him and held on tight.


He didn't talk for three days after his breakdown. Which hadn't really been his breakdown anyway. Which freaked John out all the more. He did let Beckett fuss over him, tutting when he wouldn't eat everything they brought him. He also let Kate sit in his room and chatter at him. He liked when Teyla sang to him and he felt safe when Ronon would simply sit and wittle, not expecting him to talk, just content to be with him. Although neither of them came to visit him today. He figured maybe they would come later and he wasn't sure if he was looking forward to it or not.

He felt a bit pissed when Rodney didn't show up at all.

Elizabeth told him that Rodney was shaken by what had happened and was now focused on doing everything he could to try and help John. Which translated into McKay locking himself into his lab with Zelenka and pouring over the Ancient data base for everything and anything related to Marius. For that John was grateful. But he didn't tell her that.

He sat on his bed and watched as Elizabeth paced the room, looking uncomfortable and tired and innately sad. She always looked sad when she came to visit him, but there was a difference to her sadness today. She looked near tears and that bothered John. Tears of any kind made him uncomfortable and Elizabeth's presence was starting to make him feel jittery. Instinct told him something was wrong.

"You okay?" John asked, his voice almost too loud as it shattered the heavy silence that had settled between them.

"Been better," Elizabeth announced. She stopped pacing and turned to look at him. "I have...bad news."

He sensed it wasn't about himself. "What is it?" he prompted.

Elizabeth cleared her throat, crossing her arms over her chest in a protective stance before continuing. "Teyla and Ronon went on a mission with Lorne's team this morning. They got back a few hours ago."

"What aren't you telling me?" John slid off the bed and moved to confront her. He knew it was something bad.

"Teyla was injured," Elizabeth blurted out. "It's very bad, John. There's nothing Carson can do. He tried to repair the damage in surgery but he just got done telling me that he can't save her."

The news hit John like a ton of bricks and he felt himself swaying. When Elizabeth grabbed his arm to steady him, it was like a jolt of awareness. His body suddenly thrummed with adrenaline and he felt himself becoming focused with crystal clarity. "I need to see her," he stated. Because he wasn't going to take no for an answer.

But ELizabeth was nodding. "I knew you'd want that. We'll have an escort to the infirmary."

"Fine." John didn't care about that. He gestured for Elizabeth to lead the way and a moment later he was in the corridor, following her into the nearest transporter, fidgeting as they waited for their shadows to follow them in. Then they were finally at the infirmary and John saw a curtained off area in the back. He knew Teyla was in there. He strode over to it and pushed the curtain aside.

Carson was checking Teyla's vitals and Ronon was standing off to one side.

John focused on Teyla, moving to the clear side of her bed and studying her pale face. He reached for her hand. "Teyla?"

"I have her heavily sedated," Carson interjected. "I doubt she'll hear you."

"How long does she have?" John queried, not releasing Teyla's hand.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Carson announced, "We're talking maybe a few hours, probably less."

John nodded, then he used his free hand to pull back the covers. He felt jittery again, but more so. It was like a buzz of energy just under his skin. More than he had felt before but now he understood what it was. Or maybe it was Marius who understood. It didn't matter. All that did matter was that John knew he could save Teyla. Moving his hand over her abdomen, while still clutching her hand with his other, John closed his eyes and focused on making the energy inside him flow over Teyla.

He heard gasps of surprise around him, but he didn't falter. He felt a burning heat that didn't sear him. It was a healing heat that surged into Teyla and around her, grounding them both together. John's body felt like it was thrumming with electricity. Like when he had accidently touched an electric fence as a kid. It'd hurt like hell then, but it didn't hurt now. There was pain, but it was on a different level. He knew he would feel it later, but that didn't matter. All that did matter was the fact that Teyla was squeezing his hand back.

"She's awake!" It was Ronon who stated the obvious.

"Teyla?" Carson was bending over her, staring into her dark eyes as they fluttered open. "Can you hear me, lass?"

She nodded, her eyes going to John's face.

He felt the heat fade away to coolness. He felt her hand slipping out of his as silver spots danced before his eyes. He felt strong hands catch him, felt himself being lifted then gently laid out on soft firmness. A bed. He clung to consciousness just long enough to hear Beckett exclaim,

"The wound is healed! I've never seen anything like it!"

John wanted to say, Sure you have. Remember when Rodney was omnipotent? But he didn't have the energy to make a sound. He was tired now and he let himself slip away into warm darkness, knowing Teyla would live.

THE END...of part 3


John didn't know that for the two days he was unconscious, his team along with Elizabeth and Carson, kept vigil over him.

He didn't know that Rodney sat beside him, or holed up in his lab with Zelenka, pouring over the history of Marius, now that they had new information to input. Now that John had the ability to heal.

He was dreaming as they watched over him. But it was more than dreams. As he slept on, as his body recovered, he found a level of awareness that allowed him to connect to Marius.

"You're real," John whispered, as he stared at the image of a man in his prime. A wavering image in his mind, but he knew it was more than a dream.

Marius nodded to him. "I am very real, John Sheppard. And I have much regret for what you have suffered. I had so little time to connect with you. When I realized who you are, I knew what I had to do."

John wasn't sure he wanted to know what that meant. But he had to ask anyway. "What did you do to me?"

"Nothing that was not meant to be," Marius replied. "Do you remember when you connected with Athar?"

"I remember." John wondered if he could blush in his mind. She had made him see her in every way, and he had allowed her to see him as well. Rodney had teased him for weeks about having glowy sex with Chaya, but it hadn't been like that. To this day John couldn't really explain what it had been like. Not even to himself.

Marius chuckled softly. "She knew what you were, John Sheppard."

That startled him a bit. "Meaning what, exactly?" he prompted.

"You will know all you need to know in time," Marius replied. "But for now I can tell you that you are different than the others. Even those who have the gene, they are not like you."

"I really hate riddles," John stated. And most especially now, because this was his life they were talking about and if Marius had messed it up, he had a right to know how. "I want my life back," John said. "I can't function in my job. Everything thinks I'm crazy!" He heard the panic that tinged his voice, because a part of him was starting to believe that maybe he was.

Marius shook his head. "You are not crazy, John Sheppard. You are one of the Chosen. You will be the one to bring back who we are. What you did for your friend, saving her life...that is just one of your gifts. But you must use it wisely and well."

John found himself wondering if maybe Marius was the crazy one. "I'm not an can I heal? And those things that I saw. Those people. Are you a part of me now? Will it go away?"

"I was never a part of you, John," Marius replied. "Not in the way you fear, anyway. I touched your mind to show you the way of the past, so that you may learn and understand the way of the present and the future. I wish for you not to repeat the mistakes that others have made. There will be mistakes, of course...but you are a wise man and you will learn from them."

"I...I don't understand what you did then," John countered, trying to make sense of what Marius was saying. "If you're not a part of me, then does that mean I'll be okay when I wake up?"

There was a feeling of warmth then Marius was smiling. "You will be who you have always been, John Sheppard. You will remember me but only when you have need of those memories. I will be reborn again soon, and we will meet again and you will know me. But I must linger. Your friends are worried about you. Know this, John Sheppard. The changes you will discover have always been a part of you. I did nothing more than awaken you to what you are meant to be. It was not fate or the flip of a coin that brought you to Atlantis, John Sheppard. It was destiny. But with each power you come in too, comes great responsibility. And that is another reason why I showed you what I did. The wars and the death and destruction. I want you to remember it and the innocence and purity of life. You will do great things, John Sheppard. Things you cannot imagine doing, and when it happens you must remind yourself of all the great things you have already done."

John wasn't sure what to believe. He found himself absorbing all that Marius had said. He didnt' doubt that he was meant to be here in Atlantis. It felt like home. But to believe that he had powers, that he was like the Ancients of the past? That was a hard thing to swallow. "I'm a soldier," he reminded Marius. "It's my duty to protect my people. I don't forsee growing old unless I get fed on by the Wraith. I don't see how I'm going to do all these things you speak of."

"It will be as I have said," Marius replied. "But that does not mean that you're life will be different than it is now. There will still be dangers and death and you will have to make difficult choices. You have changed because you now aware, John Sheppard. But you are still the man you were, because this is always who you were meant to be. Now I must go."

Without another word, Marius was gone. And in that moment, John came back to full awareness.

"Carson!" Rodney was the one to notice John stirring. "I think he's awake!"

The others, who were grouped around John's bed, stirred as well and moved together, keeping out of Beckett's way.

Moving to John's side, Carson touched his shoulder. "Colonel? Can you hear me, son? I need you to open your eyes."

John did as he was asked, blinking hard to bring Carson's face into focus. He tried to speak but only a croak of sound emerged. He found a straw pressed to his lips and John, gratefully, took a sip of water. He enjoyed the moment as it slid down his dry throat, then he tried again. "Hey, Doc!"

"Welcome back, Colonel," Carson replied, taking a moment to swipe at his eyes before bustling about and checking John's vitals.

"Teyla?" he turned his head to seek her out. A moment later she was by his side and holding his hand. John studied her face. She was as beautiful and brimming with health as ever. "You okay?"

She nodded. "I am, thanks to you." Leaning down, she touched her forehead to his.

Rodney interrupted the moment, though. "How did you do that? The healing thing? It's cool though, isn't it?"

"It's cool," John confirmed, as Teyla eased back.

"I think I know what happened to you," Rodney announced. "I'm not sure I can fix you, but --"

John cut him off with the wave of one hand. "I know what happened," he replied, and that got everyone's attention.

Elizabeth moved in on his other side to ask, "How do you know, John?"

"I spoke with Marius." He could see the reaction that got. They were shocked but, surprisingly, they didn't stare at him like he was insane. Experiencing the weirdness of the Pegasus galaxy on a daily basis did have it's own weird kind of perks then. "He explained what he did. Sort of."

"You're Ancient!" Rodney blurted out.

John winced to hear it put so bluntly, because he wasn't really sure he was. He wasn't positive that was what Marius meant. Nor was he going to make himself crazy worrying about it. "I'm not," he grumbled.

Rodney waggled a finger at him. "You are. Carson tested your DNA. Your strands now look like Chaya's. Mostly."

"What Rodney is trying to say," Carson interjected, shooting a glare at McKay, "Is that I tested your DNA and it mirror's Chaya's. There are some differences, but...I'd have to classify you as Ancient, Colonel."

"Yeah...that's kinda what Marius said," John confessed. He wasn't going to tell them everything. If things happened and needed to be explained, then he'd fess up. But for now he would wait and see how his life played out. And he would wait for Marius to show up in human form this time. A sudden thought occurred to John and he turned to Rodney. "I'm not going to become all glowy and blow things up, am I?"

There was a long moment of silence, and it felt like everyone was holding their breath, before Rodney replied. "Of course not. Don't be ridiculous. At least...I don't think you will. I mean...not now anyway. I suppose you might be able to though if you concentrate." He broke off his babbling, realizing he was being glared at by pretty much everyone.

Ronon, however, was grinning. "That would be handy on missions," he stated.

Which made John feel better about it. Leave it to Ronon to be the voice of reason. Or, rather, to simply things so that they seemed reasonable. He smiled at the big guy. "That would be handy," he conceded. But anything else he might have said was cut off with a mighty yawn.

Which Carson noticed. He started shooing everyone out. "Come back later, the Colonel needs to rest," he told them.

John didn't protest, because he felt tired to the bone. And he was rather hoping that when he woke up again, this would be nothing more than a bad dream. Even though he knew it wouldn't be. He could still hope.


He blinked and realized Elizabeth was still there. "Sorry. Guess I zoned out for a minute."

She smiled. "I guess. It's understandable. We need to talk about what happened later. And you realize that you're going to be under observation for a while."

"I know." He didn't begrudge her that. He would do the same in her shoes. She had to protect all of Atlantis, not just him. Besides which, protecting Atlantis was his job really. Even if he had to protect if from himself. "There's more to tell you, but it's kinda...out there."

"We're already out there," Elizabeth replied. "For the record, Rodney dug into the records and he believes you are Ancient and that you'll eventually come into all kinds of abilities."

John nodded. "Like when he was super Rodney."

Elizabeth chuckled at that, then grew sober. "You believe it too, don't you?"

"Kinda have too," John stated. "I healed Teyla. But if it makes you feel any better, I don't think I'm going to attain super powers over night. It's going to be a slow process."

"Glad to hear that." Elizabeth looked relieved. There was a moment of silence as she studied his face, then she asked, "You okay with this?"

John had been waiting for someone to ask him that. Now he had to face the truth. And he gave her the truth, as much as he could. "I have to be. I can't give it back. It's not something he gave me, Elizabeth. It's a part of who I am." And that was the scary part of it, right that.

Elizabeth looked thoughtful, then she reached out and took his hand. "However this came to be, for whatever reasons...I'm glad it's you." There was a whole world of meaning behind her words, and John felt a bit overwhelmed by the trust she had in him. Elizabeth squeezed his hand then pulled away. "Get some sleep. You'll need it."

"Yeah." John didn't doubt that one bit. He nodded at her before watching her turn and walk away, then he settled into the pillows and closed his eyes. It felt good to feel normal again. No more jittery feeling. No more emotions whirling around inside him that didn't belong to him. He had enough baggage of his own. But for once it comforted him, easing John into peaceful slumber.


On a planet, several hundred-thousand miles away, a new life was born.

His parents named him, Marius.