Epiphany


She looks down at him, brushing away the sticky red sap running down her cheek. Her arm is numb, trapped underneath the shattered metal of the pod's controls. Her left leg stings with the pain of a broken limb, and although she can't quite see it, she knows that if she looks down she will see the porcelain white of a bone thrust out through skin. And worst of all, she can feel the strength inside of her fading away, as her breathing becomes harder and harder to control, ribs collapsed towards the inside.

Elizabeth Weir is dying, a casualty of both a Wraith attack and a broken heart.

The hurt inside is harder to identify, but it pulls at her just the same as the physical injuries do. It comes from the certainty that she will die before any rescue arrives, and from the knowledge that she will never live to love him like she so desperately wanted to.

That knowledge has only struck her now, striking the breath out of her just like the pain did when she first awoke. She loved him. She loves him, now and forever. Buried so long, the truth emerges only when the threat of death looms so large that it has become a simple certainty. She denied it for so long it became habit, hiding those incriminating thoughts before they could even surface in her conscious mind, anchoring them down with the dark emotions of rejection and loss.

But now, now those emotions are real and true, almost tangible in the fading light and the acrid smoke of the dying pod, as she gazes down upon his unconscious form once more.

His injuries are not as severe as hers, at least not from what she can tell from her limited vantage point. He's stirring now, moaning as a shaky hand cradles his skull and cringing as he moves his obviously fractured wrist.

"Eli-" he starts with a croak, clearing his throat and trying again, "Elizabeth?"

His voice seems like a choir to her, and she can feel real tears mix with the crimson ones that glide down her cheeks. "John," she murmurs, mustering all the strength she can into her voice.

She can see the shock and a flash of sudden anger go through his eyes, as he pulls himself up and limps over to her in an instant, leaning so close that she can almost see into his mind through his eyes. But that's just the neurons dying in her brain, flashes of absurdity and madness creating illusions and flights of fancy in her mind.

"Where are you hurt?" he asks gruffly, the military in him taking control, switching over to the combat mode that has served him so well for so long.

"It doesn't matter…" she whispers, as a strange cold erupts over her skin, covering her in goosebumps that spreads across her, like waves upon an ocean. "Like Atlantis…" she thinks, and she realizes that she spoke aloud.

"What?" he asks, still scanning over her body with a trained eye, identifying the femur that has pushed its way up through the skin, the cracked ribs that make her gasp for breath, and the arm that is mutilated beneath the collapsed metal of the puddle jumper's control panel. His breath catches in throat, but he recovers quickly, determined not to let her see him falter.

"John," she says, and this time her voice is strong and clear, the strength and courage evident in her stunning eyes. "John, I'm dying," and she says it with such a strong certainty that for a moment, even his fears are allayed.

But then realizes what those words mean, and his heart seems to stop, unable to hide his fear now. "You can't," he states firmly, like an order to be obeyed.

She grins, through the tears and blood, and he wipes them both away, his hand brushing her cool skin. "I'm not one of your subordinates, John. I don't have to follow your orders." A cough rocks her then, and he knows that the internal bleeding grows more and more severe with each passing moment.

"I'll save you," he offers valiantly, and she knows then by the tone of his voice that he loves her too.

She sighs, regretting every moment where she could have had him but didn't; regretting every thought and emotion that she repressed for so long. She could have been happy, so happy. And she knows that he is feeling the same way too, the horrible sting of hindsight piercing their hearts with its painful truths.

"I love you, John," she whispers, and someone is pulling at her eyelids, attempting to draw them over, settle her into the warm comfort of a deep and endless sleep.

He can't answer, bound by the twinned emotions of loss and of hope.

Somewhere, someone sings, a song of rest and a song of warmth.

"Going…" she murmurs, "going now."

"No," he chokes out, stunned by his own weaknesses, horrified by what was given to him and then so quickly taken away.

Her eyes open with one final show of strength. She smiles, and it is a beacon in the dark that threatens to take him.

"I- I love you," he stammers, pressing his head against her hand, entwining his fingers with hers.

The melody envelops her, and the part of her that is still alive remarks at the absurdity that surrounds her. But she lets the soft current of sound take her, and she drifts away.

Her pulse slows, falters, and fades away, and John Sheppard is left in her wake, suffocating in a wave of agony and pain.