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!

Note from Author (fyd818): This is set about a year and a half after my fic "Dance With Me" (Year of the Spark: February 16). I warn you, grab the tissues: This one's a weeper. (But I promise I don't kill Sparky.) I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading!

Fractured

fyd818

I couldn't fall apart.

Not now. Not when there were so many people watching me, so many people depending on me; all looking to me to tell them what to do next, how to go on. How to get past this tragedy. But I didn't know what to tell them. I didn't know how I was going to move on, let alone how to help them do the same.

Nevertheless – I did my job. I drew in a deep breath, and spoke calmly and firmly. I issued orders; offered condolences; wrote the report. Somehow I managed to handle it all with cool, professional objectivity that couldn't – wouldn't – last.

Even in a city as large as Atlantis, news spread quickly. I passed dozens of people – standing singly in apparent shock, or in silent pairs, or equally quiet clusters –in the corridors on my way to my quarters. All their faces wore a pained, withdrawn look. But I – I clung to the tattered remains of my diplomat's mask, the fragile persona that had kept me going for the past three plus hours. Once the doors closed behind me, though, the thin veneer crumbled into ruins, freeing an onslaught of raw, naked grief.

I collapsed, physically and emotionally. Covering my face with uncontrollably shaking hands, I pulled my knees up to my chest, and began to cry. An endless flow of tears streamed down my face, dripping off my chin onto my red t-shirt. Red. Red like – blood. Behind my tightly shut eyes I saw again the scene in the Gateroom. It felt like only seconds instead of hours ago. I cried harder.

In this cruel galaxy where death stalked so closely on danger's heels, we'd lost so many. Each death pained me keenly. I hated losing any of those under my command. Every time we did, it was like I'd betrayed them. After all, they'd trusted me enough to come to Atlantis, trusted me to lead them and keep them safe. But I'd let them down.

Just like I'd let someone else down today.

The door behind me swept open, nearly dumping me out into the hall. Lost in my grief, I hadn't realized I'd been leaning against the doors instead of the wall. Two familiar hands caught me by the shoulders. He shifted, placing one arm under my knees, the other around my shoulders, and lifted me.

The door closed as John Sheppard carried me to my bed and sat down, cradling me on his lap. On some distant level, I felt ashamed to be weeping into my military commander's shoulder. But I couldn't seem to make the tears stop. I cried inconsolably while he silently soothed me with his cheek and lips against my hair, and his hands gentle on my back. At times it seemed he might be crying, too. But I couldn't be sure.

At last I gathered myself enough to pull back and wipe my eyes with shaky hands. "I'm sorry, John," I whispered, easing off his lap. I wasn't entirely sure what I was apologizing for – perhaps one thing, perhaps everything – but I felt the need to say "I'm sorry" for something.

John stared at me with sad, tired hazel eyes, then shook his head. "Don't. You've got nothing to apologize for." He lifted a hand to my cheek to sweep away a tear I'd missed. "Look, Elizabeth – this – job – isn't easy. Risks – and, yes, losses – are part of it. We all know it. But we choose to stay anyway."

I curled my hands into fists around my blanket and said bitterly, "Maybe so. It doesn't make it any easier."

John shook his head slowly. "No, I suppose it doesn't," he said softly.

I drew in a deep, shaky breath. Along with the intake of oxygen, I pulled to me the tatters of my self-control and my professionalism. There were many, many other people out in Atlantis who were hurting – and one whose pain I winced away from imagining. I couldn't ask, not yet. So I substituted a safer question. "How is Rodney doing?"

John shrugged. "Right now he's in his empty lab, yelling and cursing and throwing things. It's – just his way of dealing."

I lost my best friend in this galaxy today. How am I supposed to deal with that I swallowed, and closed my sore, swollen eyes. "How's—" I still couldn't ask.

John was too quiet for too long. I opened my eyes to find him staring across the room, a look of searing pain on his face. For a moment he didn't notice me looking at him. When he did, he quickly dropped a shutter over his expression. "It took Carson almost an hour to persuade him to let go of her," he said so quietly I barely heard him. "He's – not ready to accept that she's gone. I don't know if he ever will be." The look in his eyes added, I don't know if any of us ever will be.

I swallowed hard, but the lump in my throat refused to move. Would I ever be able to look down into the Gateroom again without seeing the terrible scene burned forever into my memory? Without remembering my best friend, horrifically wounded, covered in blood, cradled in the desperate clasp of her husband's arms as she lay limp.

Unmoving.

Dead.

"I miss Teyla already," I whispered. It took all my strength and focus not to burst into tears again.

This time an unmistakable cringe went through John's whole body. Turning abruptly, he threw his arms around me, hugging me fiercely to him, so tightly I could barely breathe. "John?" I squeaked into the front of his shirt.

"I'm sorry, Elizabeth. I'm so sorry. I – can't – do – this anymore." His voice, thick and hoarse, was muffled from his face being pressed into my neck.

The words pierced me like a blade. "Wha—?" Panic exploded through me with searing pain. "A-Are you going away? Leaving Atlantis?" Leaving me?! Somehow I managed not to say the last.

"No. No, never." He drew away just enough to be able to take my face between his hands so he could stare straight into my eyes. For one of the few times since I'd known him, I saw John Sheppard the man, not the career military officer. He went on in a halting, half-choked voice, "I've tried for the past year and a half to tell myself I didn't love you, that I couldn't love you. But then – when Teyla – I knew life is too short, and you could be gone just like her, just like that, and. . . And, 'Lizabeth, I can't let you go without your knowing that – I love you – so much. So very, very much."

I let out my breath in a rush. Suddenly I felt as if he'd squeezed me too tightly again – breathless, confused. "John, I—" I didn't know what to say. Wasn't sure I wanted to say anything. After all, what could possibly equal that heartfelt, gut-wrenching confession?

John caressed my cheekbones with his thumbs. "Elizabeth, I saw you there. For a minute, that wasn't Ronon and Teyla, that was me and you. I can't go through the Gate, or let you do the same, one more day without telling you the truth. I have, and now. . ." He trailed off and sighed, withdrawing his hands and looking away, the pain back on his face and in his eyes. ". . .Now, I guess there's nothing else left to say."

He was right. No words could possibly be adequate for this precious moment. It was my turn to reach out and take his face in my hands so I could turn it back towards me. For a long, seemingly timeless moment I drank in the burning sincerity in his eyes, the unabashed sadness and suffering on his face, and saw nothing else. I knew I'd never seen more honest emotions, or a man I'd admired more, loved more, than this man.

"John." I said his name simply, with no reservations and no hesitation. Leaning carefully forward, I kissed him.

Just like that.

I knew the sadness would come back to me – it was inevitable. I'd lost my best friend today, and I would mourn her always, even if eventually less intensely. Yet somehow, concurrently with that staggering loss, I'd managed to gain my own true love.

One had been lost. One had been gained. I was still fractured – we both were. But now – now, I knew we would find our balance again, and face the difficult days to come: face them together in a way we couldn't do before.

Resting my head on John's shoulder, I carefully stored this precious moment in the heart that would forever after belong only to him.

-The End-