Title: Atlantis Cries
Disclaimers: They don't belong to me and after this, I don't think anyone wants me to own them.
Author's Note: Warning character death ahead (thanks to a damn plot bunny)! There will be a sequel to this, though and good things shall come of it, I promise.
When Rodney woke up he honestly didn't think he would be saying his best friend's eulogy in two hours. He sat up in bed, glancing at the photo on the end table. His team. This was the second time he lost a member of his team.
The first was Ford.
Rodney still wondered, no hoped, that Ford was still alive out there and that he'd come home one day. If the Marine ever did come back, nothing would be the same. It would never be the same for any of them now.
Rodney took a deep breath as he stood up to get ready for what he knew would be a long and emotional day.
Teyla concluded her meditation with a sigh. She couldn't believe he was dead. When she first met him, she knew he was a kind soul because he didn't look down on her people like Colonel Sumner and his men seemed to do.
Teyla knew her new friend was destined to be a great leader. Until a few days ago she truly believed him to be the one who would save the galaxy from the Wraith. She had never known her intuition to be so wrong.
He ran around the city for the fifth time. Ronon was exhausted but he didn't care. His legs burned with every step and, again, he did not care! The first person to understand him since becoming a runner was gone. He was beyond pissed!
Carson seemed to be affected by this the most. He felt as if he could have prevented this illness from happening. Logically he knew how wrong he was and that his friend wouldn't blame him for his death.
Still, that thought didn't make him feel any better. Right now he would give anything to have him back and flashing that cocky grin.
She noticed how quiet the city was as she stepped into the hall. Even Atlantis seemed subdued. Almost as if the city had lost a child. Elizabeth guessed that, in a way, it had. When she first met him, she was unsure of his capabilities as a soldier despite not caring about his past.
But John Sheppard had proved himself worthy a thousand times over. What bothered Elizabeth most was the manner in which they lost him...
"It's just a cold, Carson, I'm fine."
The physician merely shook his head as he checked John's temperature. "Why don't you let me be judge of that, Son?" he asked. "Your temp is 100 degrees, you're not going anywhere."
John groaned but Carson was probably right. Ever since they came back from M2X445 after a trade agreement, he'd been feeling poorly. It started with a bad head cold then progressed into a deep cough that sent sharp pains through his chest. Ronon had practically dragged him to the infirmary after their jog earlier.
"I'll send a nurse over with scrubs. I want you to get changed and come straight back here because I want to run some scans and check your lungs."
"K, Doc," John replied, with a pout. He knew he was being childish but he didn't care. He absolutely hated being sick.
Carson patted him on the shoulder. "You'll be fine with plenty of rest and fluids. The sooner we get started on figuring out what's wrong, the sooner you'll feel better."
An hour later John did not feel any better. His fever was up another two degrees and his brain felt as if spikes had been embedded into it. The coughing hadn't let up either and he was having a hell of a time breathing. If Carson hadn't said otherwise, he would have thought he had pneumonia.
John pulled the covers tightly around him when the heat he was feeling turned ice cold. He was exhausted but every time he drifted off to sleep he ended up coughing awake. Suddenly John jerked up into a sitting position.
"Carson!" he exclaimed.
The physician came rushing over. "Colonel!" he replied, noticing the man's distress, he went straight to work calling for his staff. "I need O2 stat! Colonel, just relax we're going to help you breath."
John nodded hoping his face wasn't betraying the fear he felt at that moment. True he had trouble breathing before but this was nothing he'd ever experienced before. He knew Carson wouldn't let him down so he tried his best to calm his nerves and soon he smelled sweet oxygen coming in through a mask.
He wanted to thank his friend, but felt himself drifting off to sleep.
It had only been three days and John's condition was getting progressively worse. He could barely keep his eyes open and hadn't eaten a thing so Carson had been forced to start feeding him intravenously. John could feel his body shutting down and no matter how hard the medical staff tried to come up with something, he knew death was inevitable.
Truth be told he always thought he'd die protecting or saving someone. Not like this. Not killed by some stupid illness that wouldn't have existed inside his home galaxy.
Now some might take that to mean he regretted leaving Earth but that was not the case. If John Sheppard knew what was going to happen when Elizabeth offered him the job, he still would have taken it. At least he wouldn't be dying of old age in front of a television and watching Jeopardy.
No, his life had plenty of jeopardy in it; there was no need for a game show.
John blinked his eyes open when he felt a hand on his shoulder. "Hey 'Lizabeth," he said.
"Hey," she replied. He could tell that she hadn't been sleeping well and he knew he was the cause of it. "Carson said you wanted to see me."
"Yeah. I would normally do this myself but I... I don't seem to have the strength to." Elizabeth nodded for him to continue. "Could you write letters for me?"
Elizabeth's next breath caught in her throat. She knew that one day soon John was going to do this, but she didn't think... "John, I..."
"Please, 'Lizabeth. I'd handwrite them myself but I can barely hold a pen without shaking."
She placed a hand on his. "Relax, John, I understand and I'd be happy to write these for you. Just let me grab a chair and get situated." A few moments later, Elizabeth was ready. "Okay, who are you going to start with?"
An hour later Elizabeth could tell John was drained emotionally as well as physically. She felt the same. "Do you need anything?" she asked, trying to control the nervousness in her voice as she gathered the papers together.
"Just a bit of water," he replied with a cough.
Elizabeth helped him get settled with a promise to be back later with his team to check on him. John merely smiled as he fell into a restless sleep. She took a deep breath as she watched him for a few minutes, and then left the infirmary.
It seemed like forever until she reached her quarters. Once inside the privacy of her room, Elizabeth sank onto her bed and cried for a man she had come to care for and respect over the last three years. A man whose loyalty and thoughtfulness went a long way in the Pegasus Galaxy.
And Elizabeth cried for herself and the others who would be left behind. Those who loved John Sheppard dearly and would do anything for him as he would do for them. She eventually cried herself to sleep.
Carson sighed as he watched John sleep. Guilt was eating him upside and he couldn't shake it. Now he had to tell his friend he failed and that there was nothing Carson, or anyone, could do to save him.
John sensed someone was watching him and opened his eyes. "Hey, Carson."
"John," he replied.
"It's not good, is it? You never call me by my first name."
"I'm afraid it isn't," Carson said, sitting in the unoccupied chair. "We tried everything we could possibly think of. We even brought in specialists from Earth, but we didn't... I mean, we couldn't... Aw, crap."
John reached over and placed a hand on Carson's shoulder. "I know how hard you tried, Carson. It's all right. I may not like what's going to happen, but I at least I'll die knowing you did everything in your power to try and that is the most important thing."
"Aye," Carson replied, still not sure of himself, but he wasn't going to let John know. "Thank you, John."
Ronon was more emotional than people gave him credit for; he just chose to express it in other ways. For example, right now he felt utter despair at losing a great friend. And worst of all was the fact that there was absolutely nothing at he could do.
Ronon glared at the punching bag. This was the second one he was in the process of beating up. He had literally knocked the stuffing out of the first one. Everyone seemed to be pretty understanding about it, though. Either that or they were scared to approach him about it.
"Ronon." Maybe not, he thought as he turned to face Major Lorne. "Dr. Beckett couldn't get a hold of you so he asked me to come find you. He doesn't think... doesn't think there's much time left."
Instead of replying, Ronon ran past Lorne and out the door. Upon arrival in the infirmary, he saw Rodney, Teyla, and Elizabeth talking with Carson a few feet away from John, who appeared to be asleep.
"Doc?" he asked as he came up to them.
"Ah, Ronon. I'm giving you all time to speak with Colonel Sheppard. As I was telling the others, his body is in such a weakened state that I don't believe he can ever bounce back from it. We're losing him far more quickly than I anticipated."
Carson looked at the ground but not before a look of defeat was seen in his eyes. Teyla placed a hand on his shoulder. "Carson you have done all you can for him, John knows that."
"Aye," he replied quietly. "But that doesn't make me feel any better."
Rodney was looking towards John's bed, but he remained unmoving, no emotions were written on his face either. Elizabeth moved to stand in front of him. "Rodney?"
He blinked. "Yeah. I'm fine. Who's going first?" he asked, trying to keep his voice from cracking.
"I will," Ronon said, heading over to John's bed as the others moved to Carson's office to give them some privacy.
John opened his eyes when he heard Ronon's heavy footsteps. "Hey Buddy!" he said weakly.
"We're good, right?"
"Yeah. We're good. This place isn't gonna be the same without you, though. You're more fun to beat up than McKay because you actually fight back."
John chuckled. "Give him a chance."
"A chance?" Ronon asked incredulously. "I've been working with him for almost two years!"
"He'll get the hang of it, trust me."
Ronon gripped John's forearm. "Always."
John nodded to Ronon as he headed back to Carson's office. A few moments later Teyla came over. He could tell how hard she was trying to be strong for him. John reached out for her hand and that's when the dam broke as she sank into the chair.
"Don't cry, Teyla." John didn't want to admit how unnerving it made him feel to see her cry. "Everything will be all right, I promise."
She slowly lifted her head to look at him and took a deep breath as she wiped her tears. John deserved better than to see her crying during his last days. "You will live on in us all, John Sheppard. My people will honor you for generations to come."
"So it turns out I'm gonna be celebrity after all," he replied with a smile.
"That you will, John." He smiled as Teyla bent her head towards his. "Thank you for everything, my friend."
John took a deep breath as he waited for his next friend to come and see him. He hated this. He hated knowing that soon he would no longer get to laugh with his friends. He would no longer be able to watch them as they persevere through the hard times.
Elizabeth came next. She bent down and hugged him. "John, you have been the guiding force of Atlantis. People transfer here just to be under your command!"
John's eyes widened at that. "What?"
"It's true," Elizabeth said with a nod. "Once they hear about the head of the military in Atlantis and what you've been doing, they immediately request a transfer. There's a waiting list, John."
John couldn't believe what he was hearing. Not three years ago, people were knocking each other over to get away from him. Now they wanted to follow his orders. They wanted to know him. It was a little overwhelming, but it was starting to make him accept his current situation.
"Elizabeth, I... I want to thank you for everything. I know that the waiting list wouldn't have even been possible if you hadn't been such a strong force in keeping me here. You're a great friend and I hope things will get better around here for you guys."
"You're a great friend too, John. I can't even begin to thank you for all you've done for us." Elizabeth then placed a hand on his forehead and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "I'm going to send Rodney over now."
And now John was really scared and upset that he had to leave his best friend. A man who understood him completely. A man who had always been there for him even without having to say one word out loud.
John looked up when he heard Rodney shuffling slowly up to him. The scientist would not look up at him and it was a little disconcerting because Rodney McKay would never avoid eye contact. "Hey," John said, patting his arm. "It'll be all right, ya know?"
Rodney remained silent for a few moments before finally looking up at John. His were red and puffy but he merely wiped the tears away and began to speak. "John, this is probably the hardest thing I've had to face since coming here."
"I know, Rodney. I'm sorry you have to go through this."
"You're sorry?" he asked, confusion evident in his voice. "How are you sorry? We've been trying what seems like forever to find a cure for you with no luck. If anyone should be sorry, it's us."
John shook his head. "No, Rodney! I refuse to have you all blaming yourselves for something you couldn't control. I know you all tried your hardest and you've all been great support for me. I appreciate everything you've done."
Rodney was silent for a few minutes. "Okay, here's the deal. We'll stop blaming ourselves if you stop it."
"You heard me, Sheppard. I can tell you're feeling guilty about getting sick in the first place. Well, I'm going to throw your words back into your face: I refuse to have you blaming yourself for something you couldn't control."
John stared at his friend, then smiled. The smile quickly faded when he felt his heart fluttering in his chest. He could feel it starting, the end was near. "Rodney," he gasped out. "Could you..."
"Uh... yeah," Rodney replied in shock, rushing to find the others.
John must have closed his eyes because he felt Carson shaking him awake. "Doc?"
"Aye, John. Just relax, we're all here," he told him.
"Guys," John said, looking at all of them. "Thanks for everything. Don't miss me too much."
Elizabeth shook her head. "It can't be helped, John Sheppard. We'll miss you no matter where you are."
Rodney slowly made his way to the middle of the room, his heart thundering in his chest. He still couldn't believe this was happening. He placed a hand on the casket, taking a deep breath as he turned to face his colleagues.
"Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard," Rodney began. "What can you say about him? At first I thought he was just a grunt who disobeyed every order he could. Until I saw how much he cared about those under his command and I immediately understood what it meant to never leave a man behind.
"We experienced so much together, good and bad, but we both came out the other side better people and closer friends. It was amazing to think that I actually found someone who could beat me at my own game. Whether it be in teasing people or math. Yes, Sheppard could have been MENSA, didn't you know?"
Rodney paused, swallowing around the lump in his throat, before continuing. "Never forget John Sheppard and what he's done for us. Never forget what he stood for. Never forget that he was a friend to everyone no matter what they thought of him. I know I never will. Goodbye, John."