Chapter 4 – Wounded

The table was set. Underneath was a light blue cloth draped over and flowing softly down the sides towards the floor. Off center on the table was an Athosian candle the color of butter pecan ice cream gently flickering its tiny aura of light. Silverware was placed just perfect on the light blue cloth below to the left and right of where their dinner plate would be positioned. Two stemmed goblets sat to the right of each plate finishing the table setting.

John had borrowed the table from the mess hall along with a chair. Teyla gave him the cloth and candle. As he came back into his quarters with a lap full of dishware from the mess hall two crystal goblets had appeared on the table. John had no idea where they came from or from whom, but their beauty finished off the table.

He planned for the mess hall to deliver dinner at 18:45 hours. In a large beaker he borrowed from the chemistry lab and ice chips he got from Beckett's infirmary John was chilling two bottles of water. He wished he had wine or champagne but he wasn't supposed to drink it and the only alcohol he knew about was Zelenka's 150 proof or Halling's 200 proof which he figured would not set the right mood if the two of them ended up smashed.

With Carl's help, John put on his black jeans and a long sleeved black t-shirt which hugged his muscular frame. Underneath you could make out the ripples of his abs, the perfect six-pack. For a man who does one hundred sit-ups two or three times a week you would think nothing less. After spending an hour in the bathroom primping he looked at himself in the mirror with satisfaction.

Spread out on the bed lay a beautiful gown of dark green that Teyla had brought back from the mainland on her recent visit. The sleeves were long and ruffled at the cuff that was trimmed in a dark color. The neckline was rounded and trimmed in the same dark color as the sleeves. The bodice joined the flowing gown with a three inch wide dark band. John couldn't wait to see Alli in the dress.

It was getting close to the time he had asked Alli to meet him in his quarters. John checked his jean pocket for the leather bag that held the ring that Evan and Rodney picked out and for which Teyla bargained for. It cost him six chocolate bars, a bargain at any price in the Pegasus galaxy. The ring was simple, a band of yellow gold. It couldn't be any more perfect.

When he married Allison the first time John went all out with a one karat diamond wedding and engagement set. It cost him nearly eight months pay as a Captain in the Air Force. But at the time, Allison was worth every penny and he thought they would have a lifetime together.

John thought the lights in the living space lower to give the room a subtle glow for ambiance. He double checked the music CD he put into his laptop for later. The suites door swished open and Allison came walking in full steam until she noticed the room was darkened more than usual. Stopping her stride and taking a moment to adjust to her surroundings she found John smiling at her.

"I thought we could have a nice dinner together. Why don't you go and change. I laid something out for you, it's on the bed." John informed her.

"Okay." Allison wanted to say more, but nothing came to mind. Looking at John in his black t-shirt and jeans had taken her breath away. He was drop dead gorgeous.

Allison reappeared in the living space about twenty minutes later. By then, the mess hall had delivered their dinner which he had sitting on his desk at the moment.

"You look beautiful." John managed to get out. The dark green gown just made Allison's hazel eyes seem even brighter if that were even possible. The gown flowed as she walked and he noticed that she had put her hair up leaving wisps of sandy brown hair along her neck.

John couldn't take his eyes off her; he was lost in her perfection, grace and elegance. "John where did this come from?" Allison asked referring to the beautiful gown she adorned.

"I wanted tonight to be special and Teyla thought you might like to wear something other than BDU's. She borrowed the dress from a friend on the mainland. Its only on loan, sorry honey." John explained. "It's been six months today since you arrived here. I thought we could celebrate finding each other again."

Looking around the suite she noticed the table set for two, the candle. "You did all this?" Allison asked.

"Do you like it?" He replied.

"Yes." She replied.

"Dinners getting cold, why don't you sit down here." John pulled out the chair for Alli adjusting the gown as she sat. John rolled over to the desk and brought her a plate full of food. Rolling back he pulled one of the bottles of water out of the beaker, opening it and pouring her a glass of water in the stemmed goblet.

John went back to his desk for his own plate and water and came back to take his position at the table opposite of Allison. After staring at each other for a few minutes, they finally started eating and talking about their day.

After dinner John hit play on his laptop and the music was soft and sweet. The sound filled the room. He coaxed Allison to sit on his lap reassuring her he wouldn't break. He swayed back and forth to the music in his wheelchair, it was almost like dancing. Allison's arms wrapped gently around his neck. She leaned in against his hard body resting her head on top of John's. She closed her eyes and reveled in the touch, the music and the moment they were sharing.

Allison sat down on the couch. John wheeled close so they could still hold hands. Getting his nerve up, his voice cracking as he spoke. "Allison there's something I want to ask you." Their eyes met and held on each other. "Would you marry me…again?" John managed to get out not taking his eyes off Allison. He reached into his jean pocket and pulled out the small leather pouch.

Releasing Alli's hand he untied the pouch, opening the drawstring top to get his fingers inside. Pulling out the band of gold he waited for Alli's answer.

The room was silent except for the beating of their hearts, one a little faster than the other. The sound of each inhale or exhale could be heard. Allison stared at the gold band then back at John and back to the gold ring again. So much was running through her mind. She wanted to say yes, and she wanted to say no at the same time. What if getting married ruined what they had built these past few months. Had it been only months? Six months, is that enough time to know someone, really know someone? But she knew John from before, loved him before, cared and worried about him before. Could she do it again, only this time he needed more care. After learning all about John's disability could she handle it long term. She remembered her talk with Carl and how she wanted them to be together and for it to work out. Now she wasn't so sure if she could handle marriage, handle John and his paralysis.

After what seemed like an hour, John spoke up. "Allison? Sweetheart did you hear what I asked?"

Allison blinked and nodded but remained silent. She was finding it hard to find her voice.

John waited a while longer, still Allison remained quiet. Disappointment flashed in his eyes. He knew by her silence that she didn't want to get married. John had thought this was what she wanted, but maybe it was he who wanted it more. He would eventually put this night behind him and go on with the way things were. Maybe later on Allison would change her mind. John slowly dropped the gold band back into the leather pouch. Synching it tight and tying off the top to secure the pouch John's hand headed for his pocket.

Allison reached out a hand to stop him. "John."

"It's okay Allison, I understand. I didn't mean to rush you. Taking care of someone like me is an awful lot to ask. I didn't think it through, forgive me." John softly mumbled looking at her hand on his and not making eye contact. He couldn't bear to look into those beautiful hazel eyes right now.

"Yes." Allison hadn't meant to take so long to answer.

John raised his head and gazed at her trying to decide whether it was a pity yes or a genuine yes to his marriage proposal. He couldn't tell by her face or expression since it was a blank slate. It was amazing three letters, consonants and vowels, which represent the English language arranged in a specific order to form a simple word, could hold so much sorrow or joy.

Allison was still holding his hand that held the gold ring secured in the pouch. "Allison?" John was puzzled he didn't know what to say. Had she really meant yes, how could he be sure.

Allison rose from the couch bent down close to John's ear and whispered, "follow me." As quickly as she whispered she rose and walked into their bedroom.

John put the leather pouch in his jean pocket and turned himself around and wheeled himself into the bedroom. Allison was waiting for him on the bed.

oOo

Sun was streaming in through the window lighting the couple that lay holding each other in a warm embrace. The morning sun sparkled off the band of gold which adorned Allison's left hand sending rays of light to the dark corners of the room. Her left hand rested on John's chest, while John's left hand caressed her back and shoulders.

On the nearby nightstand a voice pierced the quietness of the room. A voice that demanded to be answered and not ignored, a threatening voice.

As John reached for his comm he gave his fiancé a kiss on her forehead. Unwilling to disturb her yet the need to squelch the voice was greater. He slipped the comm around his ear and lightly tapped it to open the frequency. "Doc…Atlantis had better be under attack."

"I'm sorry to disturb you lad, but we've all been worried. No one seen ya all morning and it's getting rather late." Carson informed him. He used his medical override to open the closed off comm channel. Being the CMO had its perks. Carson wavered between overriding the comm or overriding his bedroom door.

"Fine Doc. Just sleeping in…no…I think I'm taking the day off. Let Elizabeth know I'm not coming in to work today." John said as he smiled at Allison who was now awake, her head still lay on his chest. His arm around her pulling her in even closer if that were possible.

"Carl has breakfast waiting for ya. It's almost 09:30 and you need to stay on schedule." Carson reminded him, always the doctor and looking out for him.

"I know Doc. Thanks. Sheppard out." John tapped his comm off, removed it from his ear and laid it back down on the nightstand.

"Dr. Beckett is right you need to stay on schedule and I'm being a bad influence. Now get up before I call Ronon in here." Allison told him with a gleam in her eye. Moving away to get out of bed herself only to be stopped by a strong hand pulling her back close for another good morning kiss.

John groaned he didn't want to get out of bed, yet the mention of food stirred something deep inside. Hunger.

"Come on…let's get showered and dressed. Breakfast is waiting and getting cold I bet." Allison prodded her husband-to-be out of bed and managed to escape his loving touch and headed for the bathroom.

John rolled in a couple minutes later after having grabbed a clean pair of jeans and boxers. Allison was already in the shower. John relieved his full bladder and wheeled himself into position for the lift to carry him into the shower. Already clad in his birthday suit he didn't need any help this morning. John initiated the lift program and soon found himself on the seat in the shower.

Allison's slender figure was inches away and he pulled her close so he could kiss the flat of her stomach. It had been the longest shower he had ever taken to his recollection, in the back of his mind he sent a thank you to Atlantis for not running out of hot water.

Allison helped get his boxers and jeans on. They finished dressing and by 10:37 managed to emerge from the bedroom to find breakfast. Sitting on the blue covered table was a thermos of coffee, complete with coffee cups, two muffins and some fruit.

Allison took her seat and poured the coffee. John came towards the table his vision graying out and he was lightheaded. Blinking to get his focus back and shaking his head trying to stop the un-welcomed feeling inside his head. He rolled a little closer; Allison's attention was on pouring their morning coffee.

"Alli…" John gasped out, his hands reaching for his head. John's body descended towards the floor hitting his head on the edge of the table before collapsing unconscious.

At the sound of her name Allison looked up and watched as in slow motion John reached for his head, eyes scrunched tightly shut, his head hitting the side of the table before his body hit the floor. As she stood abruptly, knocking the chair over behind her she stepped and knelt by John's side.

Her attempts to wake him by tapping his cheek failed. She called out his name but there was no response. Thinking quickly she removed John's comm and summoned help. Calling for Dr. Beckett and Dr. Epson. In her panicked voice she did her best to tell them what had happened and asked them to hurry. It was nearly 11:00 hours when the two Doctors arrived, John had been lying on the floor for several minutes.

Carson headed straight to his patient on the floor to begin assessment calling out to him loudly while pulling out his pen light to check pupil reactions. Carl moved behind Allison gripping her shoulders and pulling her to her feet gently and away from the Colonel. He needed her out of the way while they checked over the unconscious form on the floor. Carl told her everything would be alright and turned to kneel next to the Colonel where Allison had been just moments before.

Carl took his queue from Dr. Beckett getting pulse, blood pressure and respirations for him. Dr. Beckett determined that the Colonel had passed out, most likely due to not eating three hours ago like he should have. After two years his body had become accustomed to the strict diet and eating regiment. The bump on the Colonels' head he received would give him a nasty headache but was not life threatening.

"Carl, we should get the Colonel back to bed and start an IV for fluids. If he comes around we'll need to try and get some food in him. I'll contact Ronon to give you a hand lad." Dr. Beckett explained what needed to be done and tapped his comm and requested Ronon's assistance.

Ronon was in the gym working out with Teyla when the Doctor's call for assistance came in. Of course Teyla was concerned and followed. She tapped her comm and advised Dr. McKay, she was sure he would want to know. Dr. McKay contacted Elizabeth out of courtesy and she contacted Lt. Col. Lorne Second in Command of the Military.

Ronon and Teyla reached the suite first. Carl and Ronon lifted the Colonel off the floor and carried him back to his bedroom. Teyla stayed with Allison offering a comforting arm around her shaking shoulders. Rodney wasted no time with knocking and walked right in, followed by a worried Elizabeth and Col. Lorne.

There had been too many times where they sat vigil over the Colonel. Those long vigils had become less and less since his accident, but nonetheless, they cared deeply for him.

Elizabeth wanted to know what happened and as Allison began her explanation, Ronon joined them. The five listened intently to her recount the events, which offered little explanation as to why the Colonel was in the mess he was in.

Dr. Beckett soon came out of the bedroom and was bedazed at the number of people in the living space. He was vaguely aware that Teyla had accompanied Ronon, but now Rodney, Elizabeth and Evan had joined them.

Allison pushed passed her friends to get to Dr. Beckett. "How is he? Is he going to be alright?" Allison expelled quickly.

"Aye. The Colonel will be fine. He needs fluids and food. Carl is starting an IV now. He'll have a wee bit of a headache from the bump he got, but otherwise he will be fine." Carson explained to the waiting crowd.

"Carson, what caused this? I read over his physical evaluation and you bench marked him at 49 out of 50, nearly a perfect score. How could this happen?" Elizabeth stood, holding her arms across her chest, concern evident on her face.

"The technical term is he 'fainted'. His body has become dependant on his strict eating schedule. The lad should have ate around 08:00 this morning, but didn't, which caused lightheadedness I presume and he fainted." Carson surmised due to his assessment of the Colonel when he arrived.

"He fainted!" Rodney blurted out. "Now we're even. Can't wait to rub that bit of news at the Colonel."

"Can I be with him?" Allison asked.

"In a few minutes' lass. Carl's getting him settled in scrubs and starting an IV. I'll let you know when ya can go in." Carson patted Allison on her hand. "Looks like congratulations are in order lass, when did this happen?" Cason inquired at seeing the gold band around her finger giving Allison a wide smile and a peck on her cheek.

"Last night." She said meekly.

"Can you be a little more specific as to the time?" Rodney injected. Getting nasty looks from everyone. "What? You're all in the pool. Don't tell me you're not interested to know who won."

Allison looked around at her new friends, John's family; she guessed it wouldn't hurt to tell them. "Dr. McKay, in answer to your question, I would say it was 23:59." Allison had always liked Cinderella and found the fairy tale so romantic. John was her prince now and she was sure they would live happily ever after.

Carl joined the group in the living space and Carson nodded to Allison that it was okay to go see John. Carl came up to the table and proceeded to take the muffin back into the bed room. John was not fully awake, but awake enough that Carl was going to try and get him to eat. Fluids were one thing, but the Colonel needed actual food in his system.

"Alright all of ya go back to whatever it was you were doing. Carl and Miss Hodges can take care of the Colonel. Now let's go." Carson picked up his medical bag, opened his arms and tried to gather the group up and push them out the door.

'You will let us know if anything changes." Elizabeth stated over her shoulder as the CMO followed the group to the transporter.

"Aye Elizabeth. I promise." Carson replied stepping into the transporter.

oOo

Carl set the muffin down on the nightstand and began cutting it into small bite size pieces. The Colonel was propped up by several pillows his head slowly moving from side to side. His eyes were shut but he was not sleeping, yet, he was not fully awake either. He had an IV attached to the back of his right hand while tubing snaked from under the blanket to a catheter bag that hung from the nightstand drawer pull.

Carl took a small piece of the muffin in his right hand, while his left gently pulled down on the Colonel's chin, essentially opening his mouth. Carl put the small bite of muffin in his mouth and told the Colonel to chew stroking his throat in a downward motion. The sensation alone got the Colonel to chew and swallow. Carl took a second piece of muffin and repeated the steps. After the fourth, Carl held up a glass with a straw told the Colonel to drink stroking his throat to get the desired swallowing action. Then he went back to the muffin, slowly feeding the Colonel small pieces.

Allison sat on the bed holding John's left hand petting it slowly as she watched Carl feed John small bites of muffin and drink from a straw. "I'm sorry Carl, this is all my fault. You told me John had to stay on his schedule and look what I've done." Allison's eyes began to moisten.

"The Colonel is at fault here he knew better. This almost happened once before when he got too busy to eat. Only Dr. Beckett caught it before he fainted." Carl explained as he continued to feed the muffin to the Colonel stroking his throat to get him to swallow.

"It's still my fault. I should have made him…us… get up. I'm going to be a terrible wife." Allison mumbled. Remembering how nice if felt to snuggle close in John's arms. She did however make him change positions last night when his watch alarm went off.

"Noooooo." Whispered John. "…'ood wife. My f'lt." John tried to say. He still couldn't get his eyes to open on his command and his head pounded soundly against the inside of his skull.

"Open your eyes Colonel…come on…that's it…keep going." Carl encouraged and little by little the Colonel got his eyes open.

Focusing was tough, he knew from the voice that Carl was there to his right and Allison was somewhere close. He could feel his left hand being stroked, it felt warm and secure. From what he could make out, he was back in his room and not the infirmary.

Carl held out another small piece of muffin and instructed the Colonel to open and chew. While Carl explained what he knew had happened.

"How 'ong?" John asked finding it difficult to get his words out.

Carl looked at the clock on the nightstand, "about 45 minutes. Do you remember what happened?"

"Eyes gray. Light head." John mumbled in reply he hoped Carl understood what he was trying to convey.

"That's what Dr. Beckett thought. You fainted Colonel." Carl told him.

"Passed out…D'nt tell M'Kay." John corrected Carl on his terminology and grinned a little at the thought of McKay knowing he fainted. He had teased the scientist after the shadow incident and if McKay knew he had fainted he would be the recipient of the never ending same teasing.

"Sorry Colonel." Carl offered the man. "It's lunch time. I'm going to get you lunch, you need to eat. Miss Hodges will stay with you. I want you to stay awake, keep your eyes open. Can you do that for me Colonel?" Inquired the Doctor.

"Try."

"I'll make sure he does Carl." Allison told him, it was the least she could do since she felt responsible.

Carl left the pair and headed for the mess hall, as promised he returned with lunch not only for the Colonel but for Miss Hodges as well. The Colonel was fortunate there was some Athosian soup left; it was very popular amongst the inhabitants of Atlantis. The Colonel also had two crackers and some juice.

When Carl walked in with lunch, the Colonel was more alert, his eyes seemed to focus and track better. "How's your headache Colonel?" Carl asked.

"Would be better with drugs." Answered the Colonel.

"After you eat all your lunch." Carl put an emphasis on 'all'. "I bet you didn't think this was how you were going to spend your day off Colonel, now was it?" Carl thought it was time for a little humor.

"Not exactly how I pictured it, no." Replied the Colonel. With the help of Allison and Carl, the Colonel managed to eat three fourths of his lunch. He still hoped that Carl would be good to him and let him have the drugs anyway for his headache.

Carl had taken away the lunch dishes and carried them to the living space. At seeing him walk back in, he held the familiar white paper cup and a glass of water. Downing the two pills with the water John could almost feel the relief.

"Miss Hodges, the Colonel needs to rest now."

"Can't she stay? I promise to rest." The Colonel implored Carl giving him one of his puppy-dog grins that never really worked on the Swiss Doctor.

"Only until you fall asleep. Then Miss Hodges has to leave. No exceptions." Carl stated sternly and without a doubt he would follow up to make sure Allison left.

The Colonel wanted to complain but he had to pick his battles. His record of winning any battles with Carl was zero. Allison removed some of the pillows so that John could lie down and she scooted close. It didn't take long and the Colonel was sound asleep, Allison slipped out from under his arm and left.

oOo

"Hi Allison. I thought you were taking the day off." Jessica Weist said as Allison entered the lab.

"Plans didn't turn out like I thought." Allison replied as she sat down next to Jess. "What's all this?" Sweeping her hand across the pile of mission logs.

"Dr. Rhomburg wants to know where the mission teams reported spacial anomalies." Replied Jess.

"Here, I'll help you." Using her left hand Allison reached out to take a pile of mission reports only to have her hand snatched up by Jess.

"When were you going to tell me? This is beautiful." Jess gasped out looking at the gold band around Allison's finger.

"John asked me last night. We had a romantic dinner in our quarters, we danced, talked, he planned the whole thing himself. He had candles and music, he brought a table up from the mess hall and it was draped with a blue cloth. John even had a gown for me to wear. It was dark green and it was so beautiful Jess. After dinner he asked me to marry him…again." Allison explained, she was lost in the moment of remembering last night.

"When? Where? Who's your maid of honor?" Spilled Jess.

"When, I don't know. Where, I don't know that either. Who, well that's easy Jess would you be my maid of honor?" Allison asked.

"Me? Of course." Shouted Jess as she hopped over to Allison to give her a friendly embrace.

Allison thought to herself that that was one detail down, she really needed to talk to John about the when and where. Jess wanted more details about the romantic evening and neither one looked at another mission report all afternoon.

oOo

When John woke up he felt good enough that he wanted to get dressed and out of bed. Carl checked him over and agreed so he removed the IV and catheter. He assisted the Colonel in getting dressed.

Allison joined him for dinner in the mess hall with the 'gang' and John sat through endless jabs by Rodney about fainting. John couldn't say much about it as he had done the same to Rodney. It really is true, 'what goes around comes around'.

After dinner he and Allison went back to his quarters and talked. Allison asked about the wedding and John relayed his thoughts. Digging out the paperwork that Elizabeth had got for him the two read them over, filled them out and signed them. Allison was okay with Teyla performing the ceremony, she just questioned how 'legal' it was if they ever went back to Earth. John assured her it would be perfectly legal. John was excited to know that Allison had already chosen a maid of honor. John explained that he had asked Rodney to be his best man and for Evan and Ronon to stand witness.

If John had his way he would be married tomorrow but Allison said she needed time to find a dress and Jess would need to find a dress as well. John mentioned that Teyla offered to help and there was the party afterwards and the honeymoon, small details that she wanted to work out before the big day. Allison also wanted to know more about the Union Bond ceremony John explained that he would set up a meeting with Teyla to go over the ceremony with them. They agreed on two weeks to make preparations and at that time would set a date.

John wasn't really tired after sleeping late and most of the afternoon, but the clock read 23:17 and it was time for bed. Allison had been yawning for the past hour yet they kept talking and making wedding plans. John relieved himself and Allison helped him out of his jeans and the pair crawled into bed together. John had his arm wrapped around Allison as she laid her head down on the crook of his shoulder.

By the time the alarm beeped the second time during the night for John to move into a new position, Allison felt something wet against her thigh. Investigating further she realized that John had had a bowel movement and urinated in his sleep. John was half asleep as he could hear the alarm and move to a new position without fully waking up, but Allison was prodding him to wake.

"John wake up." Allison whispered into his ear nudging him in his shoulder to wake.

Thinking she just wanted him to roll over he answered, "I'm rolling over I promise." John muttered.

"No John, you have to wake up, there's been an accident." She said to him, hoping to get a rise out of him.

"Accident? Where's my comm?" John was slowly waking and reaching for him comm to check in with the control room.

"No John, not with Atlantis. You had an accident you need to wake up so we can clean up." Allison stated, this was the first time something like this had happened. Had it not been for Carl explaining how to handle the situation, she might have been freaked. Finally Allison turned on the lamp on her side of the bed. John snapped awake when he finally realized what the problem was.

"Oh God Allison I'm sorry." John was embarrassed quickly he told Allison, "there's a blanket in the closet, take it and your pillow and go back to sleep on the couch in the living space." John ordered her to go, he would take care of this mess call Carl if he needed, which he already knew he would have to do.

"No John I won't. We do this together. Now what do we do first?" Allison asked rather sternly.

"First you go to the living space. I'll call Carl. You don't need to bother with this. I'm sorry." John stated, that was the second 'I'm sorry' in as many of minutes.

"No." She said. "I ask you again, what do we do first?"

"Allison please, just go. I can't deal with this and you. Please go." John begged barely making eye contact with her.

Allison didn't budge, she stood firm, arms crossed, eyes glaring and determined to see this through. Carl had said that John was stubborn, but she could be even more stubborn when she wanted.

John picked up on her stance, her mood and her reluctance to leave. He released a sigh and new the battle had been lost. He was loosing his touch, he longed for the day that he would once again win a battle. Marriage was a compromise, give and take, you win some battles and you lose some battles. They weren't even married yet and he was loosing this battle.

"Okay. First get a towel, fold it in half and put it on the seat of my wheelchair." John finally said. Allison dashed into the bathroom and returned with the towel placing it on the seat as instructed. John activated the lift and was soon seated in his wheelchair heading for the bathroom. Stopping in front of the bathroom lift he reached for the controls but explained to Allison, "are you sure you want to help? It's not too late to call Carl."

"No I'm doing this. What's next?" She said a bit eagerly.

"I'll activate the lift, just before the lift lowers me in the shower, I'll pause the lift so you can take off my boxers. There's a hamper by my closet to put them in. I'll shower then you can put on a clean pair. Then we'll tackle the bedding together." John explained.

Allison nodded and waited for John to pause the lift. Once he did, she removed the soiled boxers and wrapped them up in the towel that she had put down in the wheelchair. While John showered, she took them to the hamper, changed her clothes and brought back a clean pair of boxers from his dresser.

Now that he was clean and back in dry boxers they tackled the soiled bedding. The pillows were tossed to the floor on Allison's side of the bed out of the way. Allison was in charge of removing the top corners of the sheet from the head of the bed. John took care of the two at the foot of the bed. Once the sheet was free John rolled it up and along with the top sheet and blanket, put it in the hamper.

The soiled mattress pad was placed in the trash. John opened his closet and removed a new pad, new set of sheets and blanket. They divided up the chore of making the bed Allison took to the top since the nightstands hindered John from getting close enough to reach the corners. John took the foot of the bed which was easily within his reach. The top sheet and blanket were spread out and Allison tossed the pillows back onto the bed.

John got back in bed and Allison crawled in beside him, it would be morning soon so they tried to salvage what was left of the night. John apologized again for causing such a mess but Allison just told him it was okay and to go back to sleep. Allison understood he had no control and it wasn't his fault.

Carl came in to check the Colonel one last time before allowing him back on duty. John informed him of the mess he had made during the night. Carl noted it down on his nursing chart along with the current set of vitals which would be forwarded to Dr. Beckett when he was through. Carl said no to the morning run with Ronon, just for today, so John took coffee to Dr. Weir and they talked for an hour before he had breakfast himself. Then off to his office to get work done.

oOo

Two weeks went by fast and Allison announced that she and Jess had their dresses for the wedding so whenever Dr. Weir could clear the gate room they could get married.

Allison had taken Teyla up on her offer to help. Teyla knew her people would want to help and took Allison and Jess to the mainland and introduced them to Meer'na. Meer'na was the best at stitching what was needed by her people, coats, shirts, pants and even shoes. While on the merchant planet Teyla traded for some fabric that she thought might interest Allison while Col. Lorne and Rodney looked for a ring.

As such Allison fell in love with the fabric Teyla had found; after Meer'na took measurements the two women designed a wedding dress. Jess looked around at the other fabric Meer'na had and asked if she could also make a dress for her, Meer'na agreed.

Allison talked with Rose Highland about the reception and a wedding cake. Rose told her not to worry that she would take care of everything and it would be perfect. Allison gave her thoughts and Rose was excited at her suggestions. Both women know the Colonel well enough to know what he would like and what he wouldn't, Allison seemed to be catering to the Colonel more than she was to herself.

Rose took notice and had already decided what she could do to make it special for Allison as well. It was her wedding too.

Dr. Weir checked the upcoming mission schedules and determined in three days time they would have a wedding.

oOo

"Carl." John yelled for Carl from his bedroom. He needed help getting dressed. When Carl came into the room the Colonel made a mad dash to the bathroom and vomited. Wiping his mouth and moving towards the sink to rinse out his mouth, "I don't feel so good." The Colonel complained, as if throwing up wasn't a big enough clue to how he was feeling.

Carl checked his pulse and felt the Colonel's forehead with the back of his hand the Colonel was not hot and his pulse was fine. "Colonel, you're fine. You're getting married in a few hours and I'm sure it is just nerves."

"Am I doing the right thing?" John was unsure if this was for the best. He had begun second guessing himself two days ago when Elizabeth told him the gate room would be clear.

"You'll be fine. You'll get through this and yes you're doing the right thing." Carl responded to the Colonel's question only to see a retreating back heading for the bathroom again.

First it was his breakfast that made a repeat appearance, now it was just the dry heaves. Allison had wanted a morning ceremony since the gate room was flooded with the morning light. She had spent last night in her old quarters and John had to spend the night alone, it was difficult not having Allison there to hold or to touch. But if he managed to quell his unsettled stomach in a few hours he would have Allison to hold forever.

After rinsing his mouth out for the second time in five minutes John rolled out into his bedroom where Carl stood waiting for him. "Can't you give me something for this? My insides are rebelling." The Colonel asked hopefully.

"Breathe. Take a deep breath in and hold, then let it out slowly. I have nothing I can give you for nervousness. Now breathe." Carl calmly replied.

Carl had brought the Colonel his breakfast. Carl was superstitious about the groom seeing the bride before the wedding so when he offered to bring breakfast back the Colonel didn't argue. In fact he didn't know if he could have made it to the mess hall this morning, his nerves were tying his insides into a million knots.

The Colonel was still dressed in sweatpants and his t-shirt. His class A dress uniform hung from the closet door in front of him, polished shoes sat on the floor. He could remember almost everything that happened in his life, but he couldn't ever remember feeling this nervous when he married Allison the first time. Maybe it had to do with his disability making him think twice about what he had asked Allison to do.

With Carl's gentle prodding, the Colonel shaved before taking his shower. It was getting close to the time when he would have to put on his uniform.

oOo

Allison woke up alone in a bed void of John's scent, his touch or his good morning kisses. Jess had come by and the two went to the mess hall for breakfast before going back to her quarters to prepare and dress for her wedding. 'Oh God, my wedding.' Allison thought inwardly.

She loved John and he loved her. John told her he had never stopped loving her. 'Am I doing the right thing?' this thought crossed her mind a million and one times in the past hour.

"Jess, do you think I can be the wife John wants me to be?"

"Of course. You love him don't you?" Jess asked as she gazed at the wedding dress hanging on the closet door.

"…yes." Allison didn't know why it had taken her so long to answer. She did love John, with all her heart.

"Look it's getting late, you better get showered and I'll help you get dressed." Jess advised and Allison headed for the shower.

oOo

Rose Highland had been cooking since early morning, not only for breakfast to feed the masses, but for the wedding reception, the mess hall was filled with wonderful smells. After breakfast was served, Rose closed down the mess hall and a hand picked team of Marines, Scientists and Athosians began decorating the room.

Sheets of colorful fabric hung from the ceiling down to the floor over the windows, the light shining through added a glow to the room. The mess hall tables were draped with fabric as well to soften up the hard, cold edges. In the center of the room sat a large table, on which, in a few hours, would display the wedding cake Rose had taken personal interest in making.

Along the south wall Rose lined up several tables in a row, all covered with cloth that her guests would be selecting their scrumptious morsels from. She prepared Athosian stew, the Colonel's favorite and small turkey sandwiches another of his favorites. She also made for Allison the sweet biscuits she was told reminded her of her mothers. Rose had trays of fruits and vegetables to be picked at. It may have been the same foods they ate daily, but Rose displayed them with flare and elegance, which made them seem all the more desirable.

On the gate room floor sat about 30 chairs in five rows, with an isle down the center. The balcony railing overhead was draped with even more fabric to just soften it up a bit. The floor sparkled; the windows with the sun flooding through were crystal clear. This would be the first wedding to take place on Atlantis in over 10,000 years.

Since the gate room could not hold the entire compliment of the expedition, military and civilian and those of the Athosians, the ceremony was going to be broadcast throughout the city. At the top of the gate rooms grand staircase, focused on the floor, just a few feet in front of the Stargate where John and Allison would be shortly, pointed a video camera. Behind the Stargate was a second video feed camera just over Teyla's left shoulder that would capture John and Allison's bonding.

oOo

Rodney came barreling into the Colonel's quarters. "Sheppard it's time!" Rodney shouted. Rodney was dressed in a black suit with a light blue collared shirt underneath. The tie was a dark color with a small pattern embedded in the weave.

John was sitting in his room staring at his uniform jacket like it was going to attack him at any moment. Before Carl had left, he got the Colonel dressed in his uniform pants and left the Colonel to finish. John had his socks and shoes on, his white collared shirt tucked in and his navy tie tacked with an Air Force tie tac pin. He only had to put on his jacket.

"Why are you staring at your jacket? Let's go, you don't want to be late to your own wedding do you?" Snarked Rodney as he stared at the Colonel. He thought his eyes looked a little glazed over.

John looked over at Rodney and back to his jacket. In that brief look, Rodney saw the fight or flight look and in this case if was flight.

"Hey come on…what's the matter, you can tell me I'm your best man." Rodney said as he kneeled down beside the Colonel to get a face to face look.

"I'm scared." Whispered the Colonel not taking his eyes off his uniform jacket.

Rodney put a smile on his face and responded. "That's perfectly understandable…so I'm told. There's nothing to be scared about. You love Allison don't you?"

"Yes…more than life itself." John whispered again.

"See there you said it. 'More than life itself.' You, Colonel 'I give my legs for ZedPM's' Sheppard can do this. You've sacrificed yourself for others so many times I've lost count. You've saved my ass countless times too, not to mention Teyla's and Ronon's. If you can give your life to saving us, Atlantis and this whole expedition, then you can surely give your life to Allison to hold, cherish and protect. God knows you need someone to protect you. Now, come on, people are waiting, there's food to be had and you're holding things up." Rodney had no idea that being best man was such a tough job.

"Thanks Rodney." John looked at him and gave a small smile.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah…that's why I'm here. You can thank me later. Now let's get your jacket on and get going. Food remember." Rodney stood up and took the Air Force jacket off the hanger and helped the Colonel into it.

Rodney and John headed to the transporter and choose level one. When the pair reached the ramp that led to the gate room John stopped. He took in the view of his friends seated and the Marines which lined both sides of the Stargate two rows on each side, staggered and in full dress uniforms. John didn't even know they had dress uniforms.

From his limited vantage point, he could see Evan standing on the right side of the gate dressed in his class A dress uniform. He knew Ronon would be on the other side standing vigil. He barely could see Teyla standing in the center wearing the blue gown she had worn at Charin's ring ceremony. The blue made her auburn hair and dark eyes shine with brilliance.

McKay gave him a nudge and finally John made his way up the small ramp and towards Teyla in front of the Stargate. Rodney stayed by his right side his eyes focused on Teyla for the most part. He saw Ronon standing to his right, or on the left side of the Stargate. He was dressed in dark leather pants and a tan tunic that was longer on his left side than his right. A solemn grin on his face but with a sparkle in his eye, Ronon gave a slight nod in acknowledgement. The Colonel returned it.

John hadn't paid much attention to the people sitting behind him, but he knew Elizabeth, Carson, Carl, Radek, Halling, Jinto and Wex and maybe even Jinto's special one was there. He just didn't know. He vaguely remembered seeing nurses, doctors, scientists and Athosians seated but their faces were all a blur.

"Rodney." Whispered Carson from the seat behind him.

Turning around slightly to see what Carson wanted he mouthed the word 'what'.

"Tell the Colonel to breathe before he faints." Whispered Carson.

Rodney looked confused, but then took a look at the Colonel. Sure enough it appeared that the Colonel forgot how to breathe. Rodney tapped him on the shoulder, leaned down and told him to breathe before his fainted.

The Colonel did as he was told and whispered back…"pass out". He gave Rodney a smile that said thank you for not letting me make a complete fool of myself. Rodney returned the gesture.

Music quieted the many murmurs and the ceremony was beginning. Rodney turned the Colonel's wheelchair so he could see Allison come down the isle. First Jessica Weist made her way down the isle between the chairs, her gown was the color of sunrise, and her dark hair played off the yellow-gold of her dress. With each step, it flowed around her; she carried in her hand a single Tassium flower found on the mainland. The flower had a thick, strong stalk, the petals rich blue contrasted with her yellow-gold gown.

Jess took her position to her left as she walked down, stopping and turned to face the stairs. The music changed, the Marines snapped to full attention posture, those seated stood and turned toward the grand staircase as well.

At the top of the stairs stood Allison, her left arm looped around Dr. Rhomburg's right. Rodney reached out a hand and placed it on the Colonel's shoulder and squeezed. Rodney whispered the word 'breathe' and the Colonel inhaled, his breath had been taken away by the vision of loveliness that stood at the top of the stairs.

One step and a time, Allison and the Doctor descended, the dark blue gown cascaded down the stairs after each step. Dark as the Atlantean sky at night, dark as John's class A uniform her light brown hair wisped at the top of her bare shoulders showing off a necklace that looked familiar. The gown was trimmed in pale blue ribbon around the cuffs of each sleeve. The neckline was a 'v', the sleeves hung off the shoulders, and the bodice formed itself tightly around her frame. A band of pale blue attached the flowing skirt to the bodice. More pale blue was used to trim the bottom of the gown.

With each step Allison took John fell deeper in love. Dr. Rhomburg wore a medium gray suit that accented his whitening hair and white beard. When they reached the bottom of the stairs the pair walked down the isle towards John. The Colonel's eyes were locked on his wife-to-be who was slowly being guided between the rows of chairs. In the background there were gasps at her beauty as she slowly passed.

John had to be reminded to breathe on occasion and Rodney's firm hand on his shoulder giving a manly squeeze reminded him to do so. Allison was getting closer and he just noticed that she was carrying a bouquet of flowers. Most of them he recognized from the mainland. The mix of flowers were dainty and white in color which popped from the blue background they found themselves against.

As Dr. Rhomburg let go of Allison's hand, he gave it a pat. He was honored to be asked to give the bride away only knowing her for a short time, but he felt like she was his own daughter. Dr. Rhomburg took his seat next to Dr. Weir in the front row. Allison stood in her place in front of Teyla, Rodney turned John in his wheelchair to sit beside her to face Teyla and he took his position up on John's right once more. Out of the corner of John's eye he could look at Allison, the beauty that stood beside him, accepting him for who he was and what he did. John felt he was the luckiest person alive right now.

The music stopped, the Marine's at the nod of Lt. Col. Lorne all went into parade rest at the same time a chill ran down everyone's spine at the reaction just as it did when they snapped to attention. Teyla bowed her head in the Athosian greeting.

"Blessed be the Ancestors who bring us here this day. Blessed are those who come here willingly to be bond." Teyla spoke loudly, clearly and with such reverence. "Allison, John, do you so freely give to each other, that what is yours?" She asked.

Allison spoke first trying to find her voice, when her answer came out it was soft almost undetectable. "Yes."

"I do." John found his voice a little cracked, he was concentrating on breathing, not such a good example for a commanding officer.

"The Ancestors accept your commitment. We shall begin the Union Bond ceremony." As Teyla spoke, she removed the ceremonial white ribbon which had been draped around her neck and flowed down the front of her pale blue dress.

"Allison please raise your right arm." Teyla asked.

Allison handed her bouquet to Jess, turning back towards Teyla she raised her arm up and out.

"John please raise your left arm." Teyla told him.

John raised his left arm to meet Allison's. Arms touching, he wanted so badly to hold her hand. Teyla stepped forward and placed the white ribbon around the two extended wrists, wrapping it around several times loosely before tying it off. Allowing the remainder of the ribbon to hang down towards to floor.

"As two you chose to become one. As one you chose a path together. The road is never easy and very often long. The journey is of two hearts, two minds, and two souls. The bond which you seek today is everlasting. The white ribbon represents the pure love you have for one another let it guide you when you know of no other means. Trust in yourselves and in each other that you will find your way through your chosen path." After Teyla had tied the knot of ribbon, she kept her hands clasped around both Allison and John's wrists.

"Praise the Ancestors and may the Ancestors watch over you." Teyla concluded. Stepping in front of Allison, Teyla places her hands on Allison's shoulders and bowed her head. Allison reciprocated bending her head down and their foreheads touched.

Teyla stepped in front of John, placed her hands on his shoulders and tipped her head down to meet John's already tipped head. His eyes closed and when their foreheads meet, John whispered a 'thank you'. Teyla stepped back to her original place.

"I believe it is your custom to kiss the bride. Is it not?" Teyla raised an eyebrow at John.

Realizing what Teyla just said, John nodded and said, "yes it is." Though their hands were tied by white ribbon John managed to grasp Allison's hand and pulled her close. He looked into her eyes as she bent down to kiss him.

When they broke, Rodney moved behind the Colonel's wheelchair and turned him counterclockwise around to face everyone, as Allison stepped backwards. The guest all stood clapping, the Marine's let out an 'ooh rah' that echoed to the top of the gate room. Rodney pushed the wheelchair down the isle, Allison by his side. Evan stepped forward and escorted Jess down the isle while Ronon escorted Teyla.

The group headed to the mess hall for the reception. They arrived only minutes before their guests. John asked Teyla to remove the white ceremonial ribbon and she complied. Rodney had already found the food, and was filling a plate. Little did John know it was for him and Allison.

"Here, you need to eat something since you lost your breakfast. Wouldn't want you to 'faint' again now would we? Humm?" Rodney said with concern and snideness all rolled into one. As he handed off the plate he stepped behind the Colonel and carefully pulled out of his jacket a 'Just Married' sign and slapped it on the back of John's wheelchair. If he could have gotten away with it, Rodney would have tied empty tin cans on strings behind his wheelchair too.

"It's not 'faint' Rodney, it's 'pass out'. Get it straight!" John growled back at him. "And…thanks buddy." John motioned to the plate of food he was holding.

"Anytime. Now can I kiss the bride or will I be shot if I try?" McKay said wearily.

"I'm unarmed McKay…don't know about Allison though." John replied giving McKay a little wink.

John barely got to nibble at the plate of food Rodney had brought him, before everyone started entering the mess hall. But it was enough to stave off the growing hunger he had in the pit of his belly. One by one his friends, Marines and expedition members came to congratulate them, shaking hands and kissing.

oOo

Allison was talking with Jess and out of the corner of her eye she saw her husband piling food onto a tray that miraculously appeared on his lap. She excused herself from Jess and walked over to find out what her husband was doing.

"John, what are you doing? Surely you can't be that hungry." Stated Allison with a puzzled look on her face.

"It's not for me. I thought I would take some food to the Marines and Control Room staff who have to stay on duty. I won't be long. You go back and enjoy the party. I promise it won't take long." John told her as he kept filling up the tray in his lap.

"I'll go with you." Allison announced.

"It's okay Alli, stay and enjoy the party." John replied.

"No John, let me do this with you. Remember 'journey together' this is my family now too. I want to do this. Please." Allison said.

John caved, how he could refuse such a beautiful woman when she put it that way.

He asked Rose for another tray and Allison quickly loaded it up with food like the one on John's lap. Together they took the trays and headed for the transporter. John took the Marines that were in the gate room on guard duty, while Allison took her tray to the control room up the stairs.

"Hey Fellas, sorry you're missing the party, but I thought you might like some lunch. You can eat and guard the gate at the same time can't you?" The Colonel said smiling at his men.

They were thanked. Before John and Allison left, John told the Marines to eat up, he would be back with wedding cake. The Marine's all answered 'Yes Sir' as the newly married couple left the gate room.

"Hey Marcus." Shouted the Corporal across the gate room floor to his buddy. "Have you ever had a CO like this?"

Marcus shook his head in response.

"Me either." The Corporal stated digging into his plate of food that had just been delivered. "I think I'm gonna like it here."

His buddy across the gate room floor had to agree. They both were going to like it here.

John didn't want to go back to the mess hall right away he needed a little alone time and some air. After exiting the transporter on the mess hall level, he turned left instead of right and headed for the balcony that was down the hall. The doors swished open and the warm breeze floated by. John took in a couple of deep breaths, closing his eyes to the sun warming his face. Allison stood beside him with her hand on his shoulder letting him know he wasn't alone.

"I just needed some air." John told her without opening his eyes; he continued breathing deeply. "Have I told you, you look beautiful, stunning and amazing yet?" John stated turning his head and opening his eyes to look at his wife following the curve of her face and neckline.

"Not in the last ten minutes no. But thank you. You're not bad looking yourself." Allison responded smiling at him.

"That necklace…it looks familiar." John said.

"Dr. Weir let me borrow it. You know, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a penny in your shoe." Allison reminded him of the old marriage wives tale for good luck.

John thought it was nice that Elizabeth let her borrow her necklace and he smiled inwardly at how the two women most important in his life were getting along so well. Then his facial features turned to puzzlement. "What did you do about a penny in your shoe?"

"Oh…Dr. Zelenka melted come copper and formed a flat disc." Allison slipped off her shoe and pulled the flatten piece of metal from her shoe. On one side there was the impression of the letter A, on the other side was the impression of the letter J. Handing it to John to inspect she just giggled at the simplicity and the thoughtfulness of the Czech Doctor.

The balcony doors opened behind them and the best man walked through. "There you two are. I've been looking all over for you. It's time to cut the cake and I for one want a big piece. Now come on, everyone's waiting." Rodney ranted waving his arms in the direction of the door and the mess hall.

Allison and John gave each other a look, John shrugged his shoulders and started moving towards the open balcony doors with Allison and Rodney following.

John wrapped his hand over Allison's hand that held the long bladed knife. Gently the two pressed down into the cake cutting a small piece out. The cake that Rose Highland designed was simple, two layers tall, with four small round cakes surrounding the main large one. Frosted in white with fresh flowers and greenery from the mainland arranged in the center of each cake. The cake was a marble of white and chocolate.

Allison picked up a small piece, as did John and they each fed the piece to the other. It was just like all the fairly tale weddings she had ever dreamed about. Her second marriage to the banker was beautiful in its own way, but today, this city, in this galaxy, with her first love of her life, seemed all the more special in every way. It was hard to describe, her feelings, thoughts and what her new life would be like.

As promised John and Allison took cake back to the Marines in the gate room and the staff working the control room.

It had been a long day and John was exhausted, it was only 15:00 hours but John needed to rest and get out of his dress uniform. He excused himself from his remaining guests and headed back to the quiet of his quarters.

oOo

"Colonel, wake up!" A hand tapped against his cheek.

The Colonel could hear a somewhat distraught voice trying to wake him, but he didn't want to wake up just yet. He had just barely lain down and he was still tired, he couldn't have slept that long and it had been a long morning.

"Come on John, I need you to wake up." The distraught voice said, a hand still patting the sides of his face.

"Nooooo. I'm tired." Mumbled the Colonel still with his eyes closed.

"Please John, open your eyes for me." Said the female voice again. The hand was unrelenting as it continued to pat his cheek.

John still had his eyes closed and wanted to roll over to get away from the tapping being done to his face. "Allison don't I'm tired." His hand came up to stop the one that was hitting his face.

"Who's Allison John?" The voice asked with concern this time.

John's head rolled from side to side, he had no choice but to open his eyes and put a stop to this little charade. He was tired and wanted to go back to sleep. John managed to get both eyes open he blinked to bring the face looming over him into focus.

"Elizabeth?" John uttered, his voice dry and soft. "What are you doing here? Where's Allison? Is she alright?" John fired off a round of questions, Elizabeth's face had a look of concern like something bad had happened.

Elizabeth looked over her shoulder to Carl and then back to John.

"It's Allison. Tell me what happened." John demanded now that he was more awake and taking in the looks of Carl and Elizabeth.

"Who's Allison John?" Elizabeth asked.

John looked puzzled, Elizabeth knew Allison, she loaned her necklace to her. Why would she not know who she is, this wasn't making any sense. "You know who Allison is. You let her borrow your necklace for our wedding. Now why won't you tell me what happened to her."

John was getting more and more upset, not getting any answers to his questions and only strange looks from his friends. He was pushing himself up when a strong hand intervened and he had to lay back down.

"Easy Colonel, you have a nasty bump on your head. Just lie still." Carl advised him releasing his hand from his shoulder.

'Bump, what was Carl talking about?' John's hand went to his head and he felt the bandage above his right eye. "What happened? How did I get this?" He asked them.

"It was my fault Colonel. I inadvertently hit you with my new headboard." Carl told him looking and feeling pretty guilty.

"I know, but that was over six months ago." John replied.

Carl and Elizabeth both had stranger looks on their faces now, you would have thought John was growing a second head the way they looked at him.

"Carl, I think we better take John to see Dr. Beckett." Elizabeth said worry evident on her face.

"I'm fine!" John said aloud, having enough of this he was getting a headache. "Why won't you tell me where Allison is?"

"I can't tell you about Allison or where she is. I don't know any Allison." Elizabeth calmly explained her hand resting on his.

"Allison…light brown hair, hazel eyes. Dr. Rhomburg's new Astrophotographer. My ex-wife who came on the Daedalus. Who has shared my room with me for the last five months. The woman I married this morning. Allison." John finished. He closed his eyes and willed his headache to calm down he was getting nowhere. "Look her clothes are in…" John pointed towards the end of the bed where there should have been a closet and dresser.

Had John taken the time to look around his room, it was the same. There was no photograph of Atlantis from space tacked on the wall, no dresser, no closet, no clothes. His room looked like it did six months ago, a bachelor's room. No homey touches other than his golf clubs and skateboard which sat in the corner. And Elizabeth had on her red shirt and BDU's, the same as Carl only with his gray shirt. It wasn't what they were wearing at the wedding.

"I don't understand there should be a closet and dresser on that wall." John stated quietly.

"John you must have hit your head harder than Carl thought. After you turned in your month-end status report you came back here. I had a couple questions about it and when you didn't answer your comm, I comm'd Carl and he told me you were here. So for the last two hours I let you rest, then decided to come see you personally. I even brought you lunch, its out on your desk. Carl said he was having trouble waking you, so I thought I would give it a try." Elizabeth explained leaving nothing out.

"Two hours. Not six months. No Allison." John stated matter-of-factly. Closing his eyes and wondering how all that could have been a dream, it felt so real.

"Yes John, two hours. Are you all right?" A concerned Elizabeth asked.

"I don't know Elizabeth, it all seemed so real." John replied.

"Colonel if you feel up to it, I'd like to see you eat something. Dr. Weir, if you could help the Colonel sit up. There are pillows in the closet. I'll go get your tray." Carl instructed after receiving a small head gesture from the Colonel.

Elizabeth took out the pillows and got John into a sitting position as Carl brought in his tray of food setting it on his lap. Elizabeth asked if he wanted to talk figuring he would only say no, but it was always nice to ask. She was surprised when he started talking about the last six months in between bites of his lunch. The story he told was amazing and in detail.

oOo

John was having a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that it was all a dream. After eating his lunch, he agreed to go see Beckett after much persuasion from Elizabeth and Carl. Carson had done the scan and found nothing wrong other than the bump that had formed.

John went to his office afterwards. Trying to concentrate on work but his heart ached. He read over the list of names of the new personnel that had come on the Daedalus searching for Allison's name and did not find it. Maybe it was all a dream. Dr. Rhomburg had not requested an Astrophotographer.

He remembered talking to the Marine about his ex-wife problem. What did he say her name was? Althea, Alicia, Alana. Had it been that simple? The mere mention of a similar name and ex-wife that drove him to his delusional dream.

John was giving himself a headache just thinking about it. If he didn't stop soon, he would find himself in a padded cell. John chuckled inwardly at that thought. Realizing he wasn't getting anything accomplished, he headed to a balcony. On his way he swung by the mess hall and snatched a bottle of water. There was a balcony just down the way from the mess hall that offered solitude.

The door swished open on his approach and the warm air embraced him in a hug. Stopping by the railing he looked out over Atlantis and into the blue ocean. John couldn't stop thinking about his dream, it had felt so real. He could feel, smell and taste just like he did now sipping on cold water, feeling the warm sun against his skin. It was no different than in his dream. How was that possible?

His comm beeped and Rodney needed to see him in the lab. Maybe spending some time with Rodney would take his mind away from his dream, so without any argument he agreed to be there in a few minutes. Turning his wheelchair to leave, his eye caught a glimpse of something reflecting the sun. He wheeled himself closer to the object and leaned over to pick it up.

Turning the object over and over in his hands, studying it closely. He whispered, "it can't be." He put the small disc in his vest pocket and headed to Rodney's lab. Rodney had comm'd him a second time asking where he was.

Slowing down to stop in front of Rodney's work bench in the lab John looked at the hunched over scientist tapping away at the keys on his laptop. John hadn't even thought the Astrophysicist knew he was there staring until Rodney spoke without taking his eyes off the laptop.

"About time you got here. I need that mathematical brain of yours." Rodney said without inflection. "Radek, bring me that laptop from over there." Rodney took his hand and pointed in a general direction waving and snapping his fingers as if that would hurry Radek up.

"I am not your servant." Stated Radek as he pushed up his glasses. "I have very important work here to be done too you know."

"Yes, yes. We all have important work, now bring me that laptop. I don't know how long I can keep the Colonel here to help. Come on…chop…chop." Rodney's fingers snapping and his arm stretched out waiting for the laptop to magically appear in his hand.

John let the tirade between the two scientists play out. It was comforting, in fact, to hear them bicker back and forth. It made this reality all the more real. John reached into his vest pocket and took out the disc. A copper disc the size of an Earth nickel with a 'J' on one side and an 'A' on the other. It was just like the one from his dream, the one Allison had showed him on that very same balcony when she talked about something old, something new. How could this be real if it was all a dream?

Radek finally handed over the laptop to Rodney. Rodney was setting it down and accessing the equations that he needed John's help with. Radek looked across the work bench and noticed that the Colonel was fiddling with a small object, turning it over and over in his hand.

"Colonel what is that you got?" Radek inquired trying to get a better look. He moved around the work bench closer to the Colonel.

"Something I found on the balcony." John offered it up to Radek to take a closer look. "I've never seen anything like it before." He lied, but how do you tell someone it was in a dream. "It has an 'A' on one side and a 'J' on the other. Do you think the Ancients used this like money?" John threw out the question in general.

Rodney looked up from the second laptop and after a quick glance at what Radek held. He doubted it was money.

"Colonel, sorry to say but this is nothing. I was testing a metal that was brought back from one of the missions. I melted it down to test its properties." Radek explained for a loss for words.

"Why does it have an 'A' and 'J' on it?" The Colonel inquired.

"Ah… 'A' for Atlantis and the 'J' for you Colonel. Since you have such a unique connection to the city. I was just fooling around. I mean no disrespect." The Czech mumbled, worried that there would be repercussions.

"Radek, it's okay. I'm not upset. In fact I think it's kind of neat." The Colonel gave a warm smile to the Czech. Radek handed the pressed metal disc back to the Colonel.

"Enough ladies…can we get back to some serious work here? Colonel, here are those equations. Radek ….go do whatever it is that you do and let the Colonel and I work." McKay pushed the laptop towards the Colonel and waved off Radek.

The Colonel accepted the laptop and began working the equations set before him on the screen. The lab was quiet except for the clicking of computer keys.

"What do you know about dreams?"