We, the Sparky Army, decree 2008 to be the Year of the Spark. We pledge to post a new sparky story or chapter of a sparky story every day from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008. Though the Powers the Be have removed Elizabeth Weir from the regular cast of Stargate Atlantis, we feel that she remains an integral part of the show, and that the relationship between her and John Sheppard is too obvious to be ignored. We hope that you, and anyone might happen to read these works, agree.

And if that isn't official enough for you, we don't know what is. Seriously, guys, we're just trying to have some fun--and show TPTB that Sparky is the way to go. So sit back and enjoy the 366 stories coming your way!

Dear Readers,

John's conversation with Harmony in the cave was the inspiration for this fic. So much of what he said about leadership just reminded me of Elizabeth; so this is sort of what I think could've been going on in his head when he was talking. Came out better than I expected. Hope you like it :)

Best regards from a Bookworm and SGA and SPARKY! fan,

Miss Pookamonga ;-P

A Hard-Earned Lesson

"So, you're thirteen, huh?"

The hotheaded young girl-who-would-be-queen perked up and turned her head to look at him.

"I will be fourteen in five lunar cycles," she replied eagerly, her face beaming with an unprecedented amount of adoration for him. If the situation hadn't been so awkward, he might have laughed at her all-too predictable infatuation. But as it was, he was indeed feeling very awkward; besides, she probably would have one of those McKay-esque fits if he did laugh at her. That would probably be worse than getting attacked by that...Beast...or whatever it was.

So he instead tried his best to play along with her. After all, she was, at the core, just an innocent kid. And kids liked it when grown-ups played along with their little games and fantasies.

"Right! Nervous about being Queen?"

Her head whipped sharply toward him and her brow furrowed in indignation. "No! Why would I be?" she replied defensively.

Again, he desperately bit back the urge to laugh. This girl, however willfully annoying and impossible, had the capacity to be quite amusing without realizing it. A lot like McKay. Suppressing a smirk, he continued playing along.

"It's a lot of responsibility," he answered matter-of-factly.

"I know that," she shot back pretentiously.

John chuckled to himself. Sure, she thought she knew what that responsibility was like. But it was a whole different story when you were suddenly dropped into that position and then in a moment of horrifying recognition you realized that you had to be the one to call the shots, that you would be the one that everyone would either point fingers at or praise for all eternity. Nothing you'd thought before could be compared to that feeling. He remembered the countless times Elizabeth had been faced with that predicament—when she had had to make that crucial make it or break it choice and risk everything and everyone she held dear. For her, being the "rock" of the team, the grounding force of the expedition, the decisions should have been easy. But they hadn't been, and for Sam, now in her position, they never would be. The little lady didn't know yet what she was getting herself into.

John opened his mouth to continue saying something more, but suddenly shut it when it struck him with a painfully scathing force sharper than Harmony's little knife.


His Elizabeth.

His heart clenched achingly as memories of her face suddenly flooded uncontrolled through his thoughts, drowning whatever words he had been prepared to say. He heard her voice—that beautiful voice—vibrating across the span of his mind, every kind word, every command, every sound she had ever uttered that he had ever heard break past her lips. He was terrified at how easily a simple topic of discussion had suddenly let loose that still raging storm of loss within him. At how every little thing suddenly seemed to remind him of something about her.

He gulped back what he denied were tears, remembering how strong she had been. How much of a born leader she was. How she had always been a better leader than he could ever be.

Suddenly feeling the dark eyes of the young princess burning inquisitively into him, he snapped out of his trance and took a deep breath to compose himself. But somehow, the memory of her must not have faded away completely, for the words that he uttered next had, in every sense, come from every subconscious pathway that seemed linked to her.

"Gotta put the needs of your people before anything else, including your own," he answered. The minute he said them, he realized where they had come from. And his heart tore straight down the middle, unleashing the terrible pain that he became hopelessly shackled to every time the image of her face, the image of her telling him to leave her there with Oberoth, to leave her to her death so he and the rest could be saved, appeared before him as if he was reliving the event.

He almost didn't hear when Harmony spoke again. Her last words to him were too deafening.

"Some of the time, yes," Harmony answered John's last comment, attempting to sound wiser than her years, but the inexperience of youth still seeping through her voice.

It took a few seconds for John to register what the girl had said. When he finally did, something surged up within him—something deadly, something uncontrollable, something both terrifying and beautiful.

She had never put herself before her people.

He drew himself up in a tense breath, holding back the beast that had suddenly begun lashing mercilessly at the cage of his heart, demanding to be released. "No, pretty much all of the time," he replied to the princess, sounding almost vindictive.

She had been so selfless she'd given up her life for him.

And she'd do it again if she had to. A thousand times over. The thought of that made him cringe in fear and overwhelming sorrow. He'd lost her once—how much more painful would it be to lose her a thousand more times and never get her back in the end?

The young voice rang against his ears, once again dragging him from his trance. "I'm sure I will strike a proper balance."

His reply came out more forcefully than he had intended it to. The beast had once again pinned his heart to the ground, and it wasn't about to let go. "Just remember, you're not Queen because of divine right. You're Queen because they allow you to be Queen. If you're mean to the people, they may change their minds. Just remember that."

I know I do, he thought sadly.

She had never been one to mistreat her people. She had loved them too much for that.

She had loved him too much to let him die. Instead, she had chosen to do it for him.

"You know much about leadership, John," Harmony suddenly said pensively, turning her head towards him and looking at him gently.

John sighed, pushing back her memories for what seemed the millionth time. "Hard-learned lessons along the way," he answered gruffly, avoiding the girl's gaze.