Last Strike

She had spent three years in another universe. Most people wouldn't change in three years – time went by people just ambled through it, going with the flow. But she knew she had changed in many small ways. That gave it away when she had moments to herself to think, reflect, day dream. She was harder, angrier too. Every death affected her just that little bit less even though she still felt the desire to collapse to her knees and break down.

Soon she'd be able to sleep after a death.

She didn't like the person she could be, and had to be sometimes. She missed those first days back in Antarctica, when she could be could flirt with Rodney, joke with him and push him into wanting to work harder, instead of forcing him because the situation and desperation demanded it. He still played back, still smiled with smug satisfaction, he was still the smartest, and the panic remained despite a little weapons training, despite having been in, what felt like, a few hundred dangerous situations.

That was getting easier too. Sending people out into those situations, sending them out knowing that they may never come back: People she cared about, people she loved, every foot step through the gate was a little bit less never wracking, a little less painful. Part of her hated herself for that.

Slowly, she had become disillusioned with the job of a lifetime.

The IOA didn't help of course, however supportive General O'Neill was, Woolsey chipped away at her with every frown, with every capital letter in every report.

Maybe she just needed a holiday. A break from death and danger and Woolsey. Their city wide day off had been such a disaster. Maybe she needed a break from the city. As much as she loved it, she was beginning to see death everywhere. She could see it in Rodney's eyes, the shadow of Beckett, it was there even when he smiled. It broke her heart and she blamed herself.

She was in the infirmary so often, as a patient, that only Rodney showed any sense of urgency in coming to visit her. He and John used to be by her side within moments of a fall, explosion or shot. It was different now. She still rushed to them but John meandered now and he wasn't always there when she woke up. He was often just walking in, with Ronan a step or two behind him. Teyla would be in just before that. It wasn't that they didn't care, she was sure of that, it was more that there was no point in rushing if you were only going to be doing the same in a couple of weeks, or a couple of days. She had survived through a lot, she could understand it; see the sense in it, even, but she didn't like it. It didn't hurt her as much as it did at first when Sheppard had lazily strolled into the infirmary, freshly showered half an hour and 47 stitches after she'd come around.

Rodney had been there.

Pacing about the infirmary, leaning on the door frame, constantly questioning Beckett about her health, and when she was going to wake up and when she'd be up and about and working again. When, where, why, hope, when again.

That's what made up the last of her thoughts as she was thrown into the air by the explosion as the weapon hit the tower. It was time for a change and it was being thrust upon her. As she hit the floor she hoped that Rodney would be fit enough to be by her side when she woke and not in the bed beside her.