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 (Mama Jo): And here it is, the follow-up to my Year of the Spark story for June 9. I hope you enjoy it, and thank you for reading!


Denouement

Part II

Mama Jo


Shock held John immobile beside the DHD. Waves of hot and cold rage roiled up from his gut, pulsing alternately through him. Now that he'd heard Maj. Lorne's gasped out report, he understood the look on the young officer's face as he stared down at him. It wasn't pity, or at least not entirely.

It was shame.

One part of Sheppard wanted to reassure Lorne that he didn't fault him; knew, in fact, that as the other man's commanding officer, it was even his duty to do so. But at the moment, he couldn't trust himself to speak. The best he could manage was a jerky nod. It was evidently enough to convey something positive, though; Lorne's shoulders straightened infinitesimally.

John turned to the DHD. As he reached to punch the first symbol in Atlantis's address, a distant shout of, "Sheppard! Sheppard, wait up!" reached his ears. Jaw clenching so tightly the leaders in his neck stood out, he refused to look around, continuing to enter symbols: Two, three, four, five. . . From the corner of his eye, he saw Lorne's uneasy, flickering glances away and back again, as footsteps crashed and slithered their way down the slope.

Six, seven. . . "Sheppard!" McKay's shout was much closer, as well as decidedly more breathless. The colonel slapped his hand onto the central crystal, depressing it. As the unstable vortex of the wormhole formed, swirled out, receded into shimmering readiness, he rounded sharply to face his approaching team. He raked them with a look, wanting to blast them for their insubordination; but his overwhelming need to get back to Atlantis turned him away and drove him for the open 'Gate.

"John!" McKay almost never called him by his first name. His use of it now brought him up short. Pausing halfway to the Stargate, Sheppard wrenched back around again. Chest heaving, Rodney gestured over his shoulder, saying very fast, "The whole 'complete the mission' thing— Total non-issue— There's nothing important back there— Nothing for us to hang around for—" He cut himself off with an audible gulp. Letting his hand drop and looking thoroughly uncomfortable, he fixed John with a straightforward look and said more quietly, "Look, John – we," he motioned vaguely to Ronon and Teyla, who stood at his right shoulder, "we care about Elizabeth, too. And – we want to be there for her – and for you – whatever's happening."

For a brief instant, John's adamantine control slipped. "Kolya is what's happening." The words exploded uncontrollably out of him, searing his throat in their passage. "And he's shot— He shot—" His throat closed up, cutting off his voice. Spinning on his heel, he broke for the 'Gate once more, oblivious to the consternation he left behind him, totally consumed by the need to get to his wife.

Please still be alive, 'Lizabeth, my love, my life. Please . . . be alive.

((()))

Sheppard barely noticed the escort of grimfaced, armed-to-the-teeth Marines waiting for him in the Atlantis Gateroom, so focused was he on reaching the infirmary as quickly as possible. Never afterward could he fully remember his transit between the two points. All he retained was the awareness of his team keeping pace at his rear; and the peripheral impression of people with very sober faces, some of them tear streaked, lining the corridors more and more thickly the closer he got to the infirmary. Just outside its doors, the Marine escort held back, allowing him to enter just ahead of his teammates.

It was in shambles.

John checked up briefly, his face going an impossible degree stonier as he swept his eyes across the damage. As from a great distance, he heard McKay swearing, Teyla's softer exclamations of distress. Swinging sharply toward the critical care side of the infirmary, he unexpectedly found his way blocked by a red-eyed Dr. Biro. "Please, Colonel Sheppard—" she started to say.

John cut her off, forcing his voice past his throat-clogging fear. "I want to see my wife." Very deliberately, he took an intentionally intimidating step toward her. She held her ground.

"It's all right, luv, I'll take it from here." Carson's voice, slow and sad, drew John's attention to his left. The Scottish doctor limped into view, his right arm supported by a sling and his forehead sporting a purpling bruise. John felt his eyes widen slightly at the sight as Dr. Biro stepped back out of his way. "She's still alive, and the bairn, too. But she's in a coma, and I won't lie to ye, John: Depending on whether or not we can control the swelling of her brain, we may yet lose her. Go on back to her now, just the other side of the divider here. Bed one."

He didn't need to be told twice. Unable to speak, he momentarily clasped Beckett's good shoulder before moving past him.

Crossing noiselessly to Elizabeth's bedside, John looked helplessly down at her. Bandages concealed the damage Kolya's bullet had done to her head. But he'd seen too many such wounds in his career, and could visualize all too clearly what lay below the sterile whiteness. He wanted with every aching cell of his body to gather her dear, motionless form into his arms, but was unsure whether it was even safe for him to touch her on any of the seemingly few places not occupied by sensors, or needles, or tubing. His eyes burning with unshed tears, he extended his right hand, laying it lightly on Elizabeth's lower abdomen; at the same time bending over so he could rest his forehead against the bare skin of her right shoulder. Closing his eyes, he whispered, "Don't leave me, 'Lizabeth. I love you, I still can't believe how much I love you. Stay with me, don't go, please don't go."

In his mind, John heard Lorne's voice again: "We don't know how he managed it, but all the Genii – at least, we're assuming they were Genii – who came through the 'Gate with him really were suffering from severe radiation burns. He was wearing one of the radiation suits we'd furnished their nuclear scientists with, so no one got a good look at him. A couple of the burn victims coded right after coming through, med teams were swarming everywhere trying to cope, to get everyone to the infirmary— No one thought it strange when he tagged along. I guess Dr. Weir must have been monitoring things from your quarters, because Doc Beckett said she arrived in the infirmary right after he and the others all did. That was when," and Lorne's voice had nearly broken, "that was when he opened fire . . ."

John tried, and failed, to block the rest of the scene from scrolling through his mind again: The screams, bodies falling, Elizabeth falling wounded, blood spurting, the chaos—

An alarm started beeping rapidly, and he jerked upright. Even though he'd thought he'd already reached the dark heart of his deepest fears, he discovered how wrong he'd been when Beckett and Dr. Biro and a whole crew of nurses swarmed in. Carson immediately took John by the arm, insistently drawing him to one side as the others went into furiously controlled action around her. Unable to take his eyes from what was happening, he forced himself to ask, "Doc, what's going on? She isn't— She can't be—"

In a matter of seconds, Biro and the nurses were wheeling Elizabeth's gurney at high speed out of the cubicle. "No, Colonel, not that." Beckett's blue eyes flicked after them, and back again. "But the pressure inside her skull was going up toward critical levels. It's going to have to be relieved surgically if she's to have any chance at all. I'm sorry, John, but I have to go now. Dr. Biro will be doing the actual surgery, but I have to help monitor her vitals." With a final reassuring squeeze of his fingers, he hobbled quickly away.

For what seemed like an eternity, Sheppard stood alone, staring blankly at the place where his beloved wife had so recently been. His earlier all-consuming rage returned. But it was completely cold now, freezing his heart and filling him with an icy clarity of purpose. Without his consciously willing it, his fingers wrapped themselves around his P90, still clipped to the side of his tac vest. He pivoted to leave – and barely kept himself from bouncing off Ronon's broad chest. Unnoticed, his three teammates had entered the cubicle, worried eyes focused on him.

"John," Teyla asked softly, reaching out to lay one hand gently on his forearm, "what is happening?"

Grudging the time, he tersely repeated what Beckett had told him, at the end saying, "Now excuse me, but I've gotta go do something." He pushed past them.

"Do something? Do what?" McKay's bewildered voice chased after him.

John never slowed down. "Kill Kolya," he threw back over his shoulder, and was gone.

To Be Continued


A/N: I am really, really,REALLY sorry about leaving you all with another evil cliffy; especially after having to do the same thing with the June 9th fic. And I really, really, REALLY meant to wrap this up in two parts. But as fyd can tell you, I'm a wee bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work. And, unfortunately, sometimes it takes me longer than other times to get a work to the point where I'm willing to let it be seen by others. I do solemnly promise the next installment will be the last one, and I hope you all will think it was worth the wait. Thank you for all your many kind reviews, and for your forbearance. Mama Jo