Facing the Operative Word by AndromedaMarine

Every day of their one and a half year relationship had been filled with worry. Every night when they went to bed the back of her mind had a special spot reserved for the feeling. The couple had discussed its constant presence and decided that it was a side-effect of their unusual occupations. But every day the feeling grew, if minimally. Each time her lover and best friend barely escaped a bad situation with or without serious injury the emotion enlarged.

The time for serious discussion came when John Sheppard was gravely wounded and was unconscious by the time Carson got him to the infirmary. A concussion, he'd pronounced, and promptly ushered the full-bird into life-saving surgery. Frankly, Colonel Jonathan Sheppard was dying.

Carson Beckett was in surgery for nearly four hours. During that time Elizabeth Weir remained connected to the infirmary. Rodney had kept the diplomat and very worried woman company and given her comfort for more than half the time until Zelenka called for help on the transporter systems. Lorne, Teyla, and Ronon gave Elizabeth their companionship as well. The Athosian respectfully and appropriately offered to pray to the Ancestors with and for Elizabeth and John.

The CMO exited surgery and pulled the germ guard off. Elizabeth searched his face for some expression that revealed something. There was nothing.

"He just barely made it," the Scot said, eyes now expressing sadness. "I stopped the internal bleeding but he will be unconscious for a few days, a week at the most. I had to place him in a medically-induced coma. If he woke up now I'm afraid his body wouldn't be able to handle the stress. What the bloody hell happened out there?"

Ronon coughed and glanced at Elizabeth, who was crying into Evan Lorne's shoulder. "He was in hand-to-hand combat with a wraith. By the time I shot it, it was about to feed on him – and he couldn't fight back. We were just in time."

Beckett was shocked. "Bloody hell..." he breathed. "Lad, he was fed upon – at least two years were taken from him. Ronon, the colonel's more than lucky ye got to him when ye did. I'm afraid Colonel Sheppard would have died if ye'd gotten there a second later."

Ronon was silent, as was Teyla.

"Will he live?" Elizabeth asked with a barely audible voice. Her face was stained with tears and she was gripping Lorne's arm fiercely.

There was a painful silence as Beckett formulated his answer. "If he does I am not clearing him for any duty for several months. I'm afraid that his injuries from the past few months – especially the concussion that had him in here for two weeks – have been building up and even small things, like a bruise to the arm or leg will make this recovery difficult, if not near-impossible."

Elizabeth kept her hold on Lorne's arm and new tears fell unhindered.

Carson stepped forward and took Elizabeth into an embrace. "I'm very sorry I don't have better news, lass, but right now I can only give him sedative and make him comfortable. I'll allow ye to sit with him for a while, but then ye'll have to get some rest of your own. Be gentle, lass. I'd tell ye to stop worrying, but there's nothing ye can do about it." The compassionate Scot kissed Elizabeth's cheek and gestured for her to sit with John, who was in a private room.

She, alone with the unconscious colonel, took his hand.

All she did was cry.