Disclaimer: After all this time, they still aren't mine. Just taking them out for a stroll.

Summary: This is a combination missing scene, rewritten scene, and tag to Search and Rescue.

Spoilers: The Last Man, Search and Rescue

Author's Note: Okay, first of all I rewrote the last scene in the infirmary because there is no way John would have been that chipper with his injuries. I tried to incorporate most of the dialogue as it was presented, but some had to be changed. Second, I ignored Kanaan because they didn't say if he came with them or not and I had no idea what to do with him. And third, I stuck with "Torrin (probably spelled wrong) John" for the baby's name because that's what they used in the episode, but I swear Teyla said her father's name was Tagan in an earlier episode (I think Rising).

Post Rescue – The Recovery

By Titan5

John was happy to see the stargate come into view as he skimmed the planet's surface. Blinking a few times, he tried to clear his vision and keep his mind focused on getting his team out of storage and the dart on the ground before he passed out. Keller was already pissed at him and Carter probably was too. Crashing the ship wouldn't exactly raise his status any.

"Wouldn't be too good for you or my team either," he said to the baby in his lap. He was flying a Wraith dart with a baby in his lap . . . Teyla's baby. The whole situation was almost too freaky to contemplate. Gritting his teeth against a sudden increase in the burning pain in his side, he returned his attention to landing the dart as close to the gate as possible. Making a pass, he deposited the team on the ground and then swung around to bring the small ship in for a landing. He grunted at the pain his bumpy landing stirred up, holding tightly to the baby as his vision grayed for a few seconds.

Jerking his head up at the sound of someone pounding on the canopy, John released the cover and allowed it to fold back. "Where's the fire?" he grouched, looking up into Ronon's face.

"No fire, Sheppard, just wondering if you'd passed out yet. Hand me the baby."

"I've got it," John almost growled, tired of Ronon and Rodney treating him like an invalid. Other than needing Ronon's help planting the C4 ( and he still thought he could have pulled that off if the big guy had just given him a few more seconds), John had made it fine through the mission, including swiping and flying a Wraith dart. He could get out of the ship by himself. But when he tried to push to his feet, the pain in his side flared hot and fresh and he dropped back to his seat with a grunt. Whatever Keller had given him was wearing off fast and his whole body seemed to ache and throb.

"Just hand me the baby, Sheppard and I'll help you out of there."

It was several moments before John was able to comply, trying to breath shallowly so as not to further aggravate the pain. Apparently having a heavy beam fall across your chest produced some rather painful bruising. When he was finally able to move again, he slowly tried to lift the baby up toward Ronon. The Satedan leaned over and carefully took the child, supporting his back and neck. "I've got him," he said, reassuring John so he could let go and collapse back into the ship. Things got foggy for a few moments and then Ronon was back, getting John's attention by placing a hand on his shoulder. "Sheppard."

John snapped his head up and looked around at the runner. Giving a small nod, he accepted Ronon's help, pulling him up and out of the seat. His side burned and his vision swam, but a few seconds later he was on the ground with Ronon still mostly holding him upright. Rodney stood a few feet away, looking concerned in a way that made John nervous. Teyla sat under a tree, her baby cradled in her arms. When she looked up at them, a tear streamed down her cheek.

"Thank you . . . for saving me and my baby. I am not sure what would have become of us if we had remained in Michael's hands." She frowned at John, just noticing that he was barely able to stand. "John, what is wrong? Are you injured?"

Rodney snorted. "That would be an understatement. We need to get you both back to Atlantis. I guess I'm dialing," he said as he turned and walked over the DHD. A few seconds later, the gate whooshed to life and Rodney sent his IDC. "Atlantis, this is McKay. We'd like to come home please."

Radek's voice filled the radio. "Rodney, is good to hear your voice. Oh, never thought I would say that. Anyway, you are clear to come through, we have turned off shield. Colonel Caldwell radioed that you have Teyla and her baby. All are safe?"

"Yes, we're all safe. Teyla and her baby will need a ride to the infirmary . . . I delivered the baby, by the way. Seems my talents are even more varied than I thought. Colonel Sheppard will need a ride as well. Whatever Keller did to get him on his feet has pretty much worn off."

John scowled at Rodney, but didn't have the energy to do more. Shifting his weight away from Ronon, he looked up at his friend. "You're going to need to help Teyla. I've got it now."

Ronon looked skeptical, but slowly relaxed his grip on John's arm until he was certain the pilot was able to support himself. Then with a nod, he moved over to pick up Teyla.

"Caldwell advised of this and we are ready."

"Good. In that case, we're on our way." Rodney watched Ronon carry Teyla into the blue puddle and then turned back to John, walking carefully toward the event horizon.

"I'm fine, Rodney," he said irritably as he edged toward the gate. He was frustrated at feeling so weak and unable to do his job properly.

"Well, your disposition isn't," Rodney mumbled from behind him as he walked into the active wormhole and everything momentarily disappeared.

When John stumbled through on the other side, he was dizzy and disoriented, staggering a moment until he regained his balance. He looked around to see a nurse helping Teyla onto a waiting gurney as she cradled her baby close to her chest. Smiling as their eyes met, she nodded once and then returned her gaze down to her son.


Snapping his head to the left, John saw a marine standing next to him, his hand out. It took a moment to realize the soldier was trying to take his weapon. As the man's intention sunk in, John unclipped the P90 and handed it to him. "Thanks," he said softly, wrapping his left arm around his midsection. As the soldier left, he was quickly replaced by a medic with a wheelchair.

John waved his hand and shook his head. "I can wal . . . " Hot pain flashed through his side, doubling him over as he pressed his hand to the wound, trying to muffle the pain somehow. Panting, he told himself to just suck it up already, even as he felt the blood oozing through his fingers from the soaked bandage.

"Oh, God, you're bleeding," gasped Rodney. "Why didn't you say anything? He's bleeding. Someone get a gurney."

John fought to straighten, frowning at Rodney. "No . . . don't need gurney . . . can walk."

"Sir, you should really sit down," said the medic, worried about his CO, but obviously concerned about forcing the issue. He stood there, hovering with one hand out as if to catch John when he fell.

Ronon stepped up and took John firmly by the arm. "Sheppard, Teyla is back and safe. You need to quit fighting and let them help you. It's okay, now."

John was shaking by now, feeling lightheaded and dizzy, which made it hard to think. Glancing over, he saw the medics wheeling Teyla out of the gateroom and it finally sunk in that Ronon was right. Teyla and her baby were safe. Everyone was home. The energy flowed out of him and his legs began to give out. Ronon's grip tightened on his arm and the medic grabbed his other arm, the two of them lowering him into the wheelchair.

"Maybe a ride . . . s'good idea," he said quietly, his breath hitching at the pain in his side. The trip to the infirmary was a small slice of hell. He was so dizzy that hall seemed to shift and weave, the motion making him nauseous. He leaned to his left, trying to take the pressure off the wound, and nearly tipped himself out of the chair. If Ronon hadn't been walking beside him so he could plant a firm hand on the pilot's shoulder, John would have been in the floor. Things got hazy for a while after that.

Unaware they had reached the infirmary, John jerked back when hands began tugging at his vest.

"Easy, Colonel, we're just trying to help," the medic said. John focused in on the man as he reached out for his arm. "Here, let me help you over to the bed."

He was home. Everyone was safe. They were just trying to help him. John drilled these facts into his head, telling his thumping heart to calm down already as he let himself be guided to the bed. Once he was sitting on the edge, the medic took the wheelchair away and two nurses helped him out of his vest. The lightheadedness returned with a vengeance, making his head swim and his vision gray out for a while.

John was vaguely aware of being shifted around, then hands tugging at his clothes and fingers probing his side, making him gasp. Apologetic voices joined a prick in the back of his hand and a pressure tightening around his bicep. More shifting and touches and voices, all blending together in a confusing melody that had him momentarily struggling to understand it all. But then he remembered that Teyla and her baby were safe, that his team was home. That was all he really needed to know. Relaxing, John decided that now was a good time to give into the exhaustion trying so desperately to pull him under.


The intense, biting pressure on his right bicep brought him back with a start.

"Easy, colonel," said a smooth, soft voice as the pressure slowly eased. A hissing sound followed about the same time he got his eyes open and focused on a nurse smiling down at him. "Sorry to wake you, sir. I'm just getting your blood pressure. Just rest easy and Dr. Keller will be back in a few minutes to talk to you about your surgery."

"Surgery?" he said dumbly.

"Yes, sir. Dr. Keller said she would talk to you about it." Patting his arm, the nurse nodded to someone at his right as she walked away. John swiveled his head around to see Teyla sitting up in bed, smiling down at her son.

"Hey," he said softly. He felt fuzzy and lethargic, the intense pain from before dulled back to a throb. He was obviously on some good painkillers. He also noticed an IV and blood transfusion going, both partially empty. How long had he been here?

Teyla looked up at him with a big grin. "You are awake."

"Sort of," he said thickly, trying to lick his lips. "Keller's back?"

"Yes, the Daedalus arrived about an hour ago. Dr. Keller said you would need surgery to finish repairing the damage done during the explosion. I cannot believe you attempted to mount a rescue in your condition."

"Attempt?" John said, his voice cracking slightly. "The last time I checked, I succeeded." He drank in her presence. He had succeeded. She was really here. When they had arrived at Michael's lab early, he'd been devastated, certain that he'd screwed up and was going to get her killed after all. Then when the building had collapsed on them, he'd known he was going to die and take most of his friends, his family, out with him. But somehow, they had survived . . . all of them. This time, anyway. He glanced back at Teyla, noting the way she looked at her child.

"How's the kid?"

"Dr. Keller says that he's perfectly healthy. I say he's perfectly . . . everything."

"That's great," he said softly, turning his head back to stare at the ceiling. "That's great," he murmured to himself, a little surprised at how relieved he was to hear that. He'd been afraid of what Michael might have done to the child.

"I want to thank you."

Tension rose, filling his gut with fear and dread. The tone of her voice was exactly like in his dream . . . his hallucination. He silently willed her to stop. "There's no need," he said firmly.

"I never gave up hope because I knew . . . I knew that you would come for me, John."

The room began to spin lazily around him, dark spots marring his view of the ceiling tiles. This was way too freaky and he felt like he was living an episode of the Twilight Zone. He half-expected Ford to pop up next to him. Closing his eyes, he focused on the fact that Ford's little appearance was part of what had given him the strength to get off the infirmary bed and go after Teyla. Nothing like a fresh reminder of how much failing to save a friend really sucked.

"You would have done the same for me." He knew that it was true. That any one of them would have come after any of the other team members. They were family and that's what family did.

"Yes," she said simply, but that said it all.

Keller picked that moment to stroll in and walk over to his bed. "Well, Colonel, it's time for that surgery I told you needed several hours ago. You've lost quite a bit more blood, so we've been pumping it into you to get you ready. We'll just put you back together and you'll be good as new in a few days."

"Put me back together?"

"Yes, that . . . object . . . piece of debris that Ronon pulled out of you left some internal damage and we need to repair it. That's why you're still losing blood. And all that running around didn't help you any. In spite of that, though, I still think you'll make a full recovery." She nodded to two men dressed in scrubs who had entered with her and they began moving the bed toward surgery.

John looked around at Teyla as they passed her. "What are you going to name the kid?"

"Well, if it's all right with you I was thinking of Torrin John, after my father and after you."

John felt his face flush and he was almost too surprised to speak. He had half-expected her to name the child after her father, but had never even considered that she might think if him. "Really? Wow."

Keller grinned at Teyla. "McKay's gonna hate that."

As the gurney turned to get through the doors, John twisted as much as he could to look back at Teyla as she cradled her baby. "I would be very honored," he said as they pushed him down the short corridor. He relaxed back into the bed, closing his eyes as they finished moving him. They injected something into his IV, telling him things as they got ready, but John really didn't remember much after that. The important things had all been taken care of.


Rustling sounds and soft voices began to filter in, making John drift in toward consciousness. "Colonel, I need you to wake up for a few moments for me," came a soft voice. He groaned as hands probed his side, which now felt even sorer than before.

"Come on, John, let me see you awake and then I'll let you go back to sleep."

Groaning again, he forced his eyes open, blinking away the film that seemed to coat his eyes. Jennifer Keller swam into view, looking down at him with a silly grin. "There you are. Can you tell me where you are?"

His head felt heavy and slow, his side burned from the recent touches, and his stomach was churning around like it was mounting a rebellion. "Hell?"

She pouted. She actually pursed her lips out and pouted. "Now Colonel, I might take offense to that. Be serious and tell me where you are."

Licking his dry lips, John croaked, "Lantis." His eyelids, gaining weight by the second, fluttered with the attempt at staying open.

"Not yet. Do you know who I am?"

He resisted the urge to say something clever, partially because his brain wasn't working well enough to come up with anything, but partially because it took too much energy. "Keller," he whispered, letting his eyes close again. Her soft hand patted his arm. She was talking to him again, but he drifted off before he heard enough to make sense.

The next thing John was aware of was whispered voices. They were familiar and comforting, allowing him to ride the fine line between sleeping and waking. The ride ended with a flash of cool air on his midsection followed by an arc of pain through his side. He took in a quick, hitching breath and his hand automatically shot out, gripping the metal rail it slapped against.

"Sorry, Colonel . . . just try to relax. I just need to check your incision." A few more probes had him panting shallow breaths as the fire burned on. Then the draft and the touches were gone and he just concentrated on sucking in enough air. His nose itched, but he couldn't let go of the railing or the covers bunched in his fist to scratch it, so he wiggled his nose a little. Soft fingers moved around his upper lip, adjusting the plastic tube he now recognized.

"Just adjusting your cannula, Colonel. We've got you on oxygen until you've recovered a little more from the surgery. You're still breathing pretty shallow."

As the pain diminished, so did John's death grip on the rail and blanket and he forced himself to relax back into the pillows. Now that he could breathe easier, he opened his eyes to find Keller standing over him again.

"You still . . . hangin' 'round?" he whispered, his eyes blinking heavily.

"Well, I have to keep a close eye on my problem patients. You know, the ones that insist on mounting rescue missions while bleeding internally?"

"Hey . . . worked."

She smiled at him and then he knew he'd been forgiven, even if the action hadn't been forgotten. "Yes, it did . . . and for that, we are all grateful. How do you feel?"

"Not so bad . . . little nauseous . . . thirsty."

Keller turned away a moment and he heard something shuffling around. "Okay, open up Colonel," she said, coming at him with a plastic spoon. He opened his mouth enough for her to slip in two ice chips and then held them between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. They eased the burn in his throat, but not by much. "More?" he asked hopefully.

She eyed him for a moment before sliding two more into his mouth. "That's all, Colonel. I don't want that coming back up and I know you don't either."

He moaned at the thought, not sure what would be worse, the burn of the bile on his raw throat or the pain that would be caused by the spasming muscles around the incision. He hated the lingering nausea from the anesthesia, usually making him puke once or twice. Maybe he could escape that this time around.

"Okay, you have some people who've been waiting on you to wake up. After they've had a chance to visit, you need to get some more rest. Have one of them let me know if you need anything." She patted his shoulder and then nodded toward the side of the room. Shifting his head on the pillow, he saw Ronon and Rodney sitting in chairs between his bed and Teyla's. They were facing one another so that they could keep an eye on both beds. John notice that Teyla wasn't holding the baby and his head came up off the pillow as he tried to look around.

"Where's . . . the baby?"

"Oh, you mean Torrin John?" asked Rodney sharply.

"He is fine, John," assured Teyla with a smile. "He is sleeping. Jennifer said your surgery went well."

Letting his head fall back, he closed his eyes again and took in a shaky breath. For a moment John had thought something was wrong, that Michael had indeed done something to the baby. He took in a few slow breaths, trying to let his heart slow back down to a reasonable speed.


John opened his eyes again, this time to find Ronon leaning over him and looking worried. "You okay?"

"Yeah . . . just tired . . . and kinda fuzzy . . . hate all the drugs."

"I'll admit the drugs aren't conducive to thinking," said Rodney. "Not that you do much of that anyway. But you have to admit that it's better than excruciating pain after the doctors cut you open and spread out your insides."

Frowning deeply, John twisted his head around to glare at Rodney. "Rodney," Teyla admonished, while Ronon just chuckled.

"Thanks," John mumbled.

"You're welcome," Rodney said lightly.

Teyla began lecturing Rodney on the virtues of not talking when you had nothing encouraging to say and John took the opportunity to let his eyes slide closed. He was still so tired and he was pretty sure someone had infused him with lead when he'd been out of it. The soft voices were soothing, even though there was some whining and complaining from a certain scientist. The normalcy of it relaxed John and he soon drifted away in sleep.

There were some vague, dream-like impressions of people talking around him, of nurses checking his vitals, and even him trying to hold up part of the conversation, but none of it was clear and he wasn't sure if any of it was real. There was a starting dream of Michael cutting a monstrous baby from Teyla's belly as she screamed that awaked him with a jerk and yell.

"No!" Suddenly he was sitting in bed, breathing like he'd been running for miles, hospital gown and hair plastered to his skin with sweat.


Startling at the touch of the nurse, he scanned the darkened room. "Teyla?" he said, his breath hitching when he didn't see her. "Where's Teyla . . . and the baby?"

"Dr. Keller dismissed her and Torrin to her quarters this afternoon. They're fine, Colonel, just fine. You need to lie down."

Swallowing, John looked back at the nurse. "They're really . . . okay?"

"Yes, I swear to you that they're fine. Please, Colonel, lie down before you pull out your stitches."

His energy suddenly gone, John allowed the nurse to help him lie back against the pillows. Now that the panic was over, the pain was setting in and he reached his left hand around the grasp the wound.

"Are you all right?"

John looked up into the worried face of the nurse. "Yeah . . . bad dream . . . I guess."

She seemed to relax a little at his words. "You're almost due for another round of meds. I'll get them together and then check your stitches. You be all right for a moment?"

"Fine," he whispered, still trying to get his breathing and heart rate back down to normal. She was barely gone when Ronon materialized from the shadows. John jumped at his sudden appearance beside his bed. "Jeez, Ronon . . . give me heart attack. What are you doing here?"

"Watching your back," he said easily, pulling the chair closer to the bed and flipping it around before he sat so he could hang his arms over the back. "She's okay. I just saw her a little while ago. She and the baby are both fine . . . both safe."

John nodded, appreciating getting to hear that from someone he knew and trusted. "Thanks."

Ronon just sat and looked at him a while, making John nervous until he finally glanced at the big man and sighed. "What?"

"Would you really have left me?"

"Yes," John said simply. He was trying to continue the façade so that if there was a next time, he could get Ronon to follow orders and leave him.

Ronon grinned and leaned his arms across the top of the chair back. "Liar."

John frowned and looked back at his friend, wincing at the expression he saw. "Okay, fine, you . . . caught me. Happy?"

"Yep. I knew you wouldn't have left me. You wouldn't have left anyone there, even some newbie straight off the Daedalus that you barely knew. It's not in you to leave anyone behind."

"So . . . you think . . . you got me figured out?"

Ronon shrugged. "Not all the way, but mostly, yeah. That's why I'm still here."

They looked at each other in silence a moment, their calm goodbyes and the certainty of death still branded into John's mind. Part of him had wanted to kick the Satedan for being there and the other part was incredibly grateful to not have to face death alone. How screwed up was that? "Thanks," he finally said, not knowing what else to say. Ronon gave a short nod and he knew that nothing else was needed.


When John woke up late the next morning, he was a little more clear-headed. After a quick check by the nurse, she raised the head of the bed for him and let him drink actual water, promising some broth or jello later if he kept that down okay. About the time she got him settled, his team arrived.

"Hey, look, he's awake and sitting up," said Rodney as they surrounded the bed. "He might even be lucid this time."

Teyla came up next to him with the baby wrapped in a blanket and cuddled in her arms. Her smile lit up the room, at least in his opinion. "You are looking better, John," she said, leaning forward to touch his forehead with hers. John couldn't help but look down at Torrin, awake and blinking at him.

He smiled as she straightened and stepped back. "Thanks, feeling better too. Not so . . . drugged. How's the kid?"

"He is well, although he eats a lot. It is hard to get much sleep. Would you like to hold him?"

His first instinct was to say no, but then he remembered that he'd held the child just minutes after he was born while flying a Wraith dart and struggling to remain conscious. Surely sitting in a bed, it would be a piece of cake. "Sure."

Rodney's eyes popped open and John resisted the urge to laugh at his expression as Teyla settled the child in the crook of his left arm, keeping the pressure off his injured right side. Torrin yawned, his eyes trying to decide if they wanted to close or remain open. He was warm and soft and smelled good and John's heart immediately melted. "He's beautiful, Teyla," he said softly, trying to keep the swelling emotions out of his voice.

"Thank you," she replied, pride in her voice.

"Hey, maybe I could keep him for you after I'm out of here . . . you know, so you could get some sleep," John offered. "That is if . . . are you using bottles, cause if not . . . well, I just couldn't feed him and . . . " He looked toward Rodney or Ronon to help him out of his verbal mess, but they just stood there staring at him with goofy grins on their faces. He could feel the flush on his cheeks.

"That would be nice," Teyla said gracefully, trying to ignore his embarrassment. "I appreciate the offer," she said, casting a stern look at her other two teammates, who immediately wiped the grins from their faces.

John was relieved that at least she knew what he'd been trying to say. He smiled to himself when he realized that she always did. "You're lucky to have such a cool mom," he said to the now sleeping baby. "I hope you grow up to be like her."

Teyla reached over to stroke the baby's face. "I hope he grows up to be like all of us. I hope he has Ronon' strength," she said, nodding to Ronon. "I wish him to have Rodney's genius," she said, nodding to Rodney.

"Well of course you realize the chances of him having that high an IQ are a bit-"

"Rodney," John interrupted.

Looking surprised at first, the scientist let his head drop a bit and sighed. "Right, sorry."

Smiling, Teyla then looked at John. "And I hope he has your heart."

"My heart?" John asked. He'd been hoping for something manly, like fighting ability. Okay, considering Ronon and Teyla were here, maybe not that. Strategy? Ability to worm out of impossibly dangerous situations?

"Yes," she said, moving her hand to his chest and making him extremely uncomfortable. "You are fiercely loyal to your friends and your men, you will fight to protect anyone you can, and you do not leave people behind. That is why I was able to hang on to my hope, John. I knew that you would come for me. I knew."

John looked down at the baby, his throat constricted and his chest so tight he could barely breathe. For a moment, all he could think of was Ford and Elizabeth and all the other people he'd failed. He wanted to hide from their piercing looks, almost half expecting someone to laugh at her words. A hand on his shoulder startled him and he jerked his head up to look in her dark eyes, shiny with moisture.

"I am sorry if I have upset you. I truly wish you would think more of your successes and less of your failures. Torrin and I owe you our lives, as do most of the people in Atlantis. I would be proud for my son to conduct himself as you do."

Tearing his eyes from hers, he looked back down at the child. "Thanks," he murmured, still finding it hard to talk or to accept her words.

"You are tired," she said softly, reaching for her son. John lifted the child, handing him off to his mother while staring at the foot of the bed. In his peripheral vision, he saw Teyla sit in a chair Ronon had brought over.

Clearing his throat, John decided a change of subject was long overdue. "So, I've been thinking about the missing jumper."

"The one you lost in the parking garage?" Rodney asked sarcastically. "I talked to Caldwell during the debriefing."

"Yeah," John said sheepishly. "Is there any way Michael could have taken it?" Ronon's head snapped up in sudden interest.

Rodney frowned for a moment and then shook his head once. "He obviously doesn't have the ATA gene. Keeping creatures like him away from Ancient devices was kind of the point of making that link in the first place. And even if he could, why not just take a dart if he was abandoning his ship?"

"You mean Michael might be alive?" Ronon stood up straight and tall, clenching his fist in obvious anger.

"I doubt it," mumbled Rodney.

"We've underestimated him before," John said darkly. "He had Beckett's DNA . . . hell, he made a clone of him. He's obviously pretty smart in the science department. What's to say he doesn't have another clone or he didn't figure out a way to use the ATA gene to operate stuff?"

Expressions sobered as they all realized the consequences of such a possibility. Rodney put his right hand under his chin and tapped his lips with his index finger for a moment before dropping his arm. "Why would he want a jumper?"

"Tactical advantage," said Ronon. "He can get closer to us with one before we suspect anything."

"Not to mention figure out how they work and possible weaknesses," Rodney added with a nod, suddenly realizing the value to their enemy. "Oh, this is not good."

"Is there any way to tell?" asked Teyla.

Rodney sighed audibly and shook his head. "No."

"We'd better warn Carter to let everyone know so we can put some precautions into place," said John. He shifted when the room went quiet and everyone's eyes went to the floor. "What?" He knew he wasn't going to like whatever had happened.

"Sam's gone back to Earth," said Rodney. "I don't think she's enough of a yes-man for the IOA."

"Colonel Carter is gone?" asked John incredulously. He felt like he'd been body-slammed against a wall. He'd meant what he said about having more respect for her than any other commanding officer he'd ever served under. She had the field experience, the intelligence, and the loyalty to her forces to make an excellent military leader. Plus she had the science background to not only be of service in helping save the city several times, but to realize the importance of what they were doing. It had never occurred to him that she would be replaced. It also made him wonder if he was on his way out as well. If they were willing to replace her, he knew they were more than willing to get rid of him.

"Who?" was all he could manage to say, the tightness returning to his chest and throat. He was also becoming aware that the reduction in pain medication that lifted the fog in his head also allowed more pain to surface. He leaned a bit to his left in order to relieve some of the pressure on his incision.

"You aren't going to like this . . . heck, you aren't even going to believe it," said Rodney with a humorless smirk. "Woolsey."

John stared dumbly at his friend. "Woolsey?" He remembered the jerk. Suit and tie, trying to negotiate with the Ancients when they had been kicked out of Atlantis and failing miserably. Cowering in a cell and giving in when they were captured by the Asurans. Why on Earth would anyone in their right mind put him in charge?

"I have no idea," Rodney answered, making John realize he's said the last part out loud. "Never mind, yes I do. Because he is a yes-man. If the IOA says jump, he'll ask how high. He has no morals, no ethics, no concern for right or wrong, absolutely no loyalty to anyone but the IOA. He'll have us destroyed or worse in two weeks."

John was still flustered. "But he has no skills. Elizabeth was an excellent diplomat, leader, and linguist. Colonel Carter had years of experience in SG1 and was a brilliant scientist. They brought something to the mission. Woolsey has no clue what's going on or how to handle anything." John suddenly remembered what the holographic Rodney had told him about how things went when he didn't return to Atlantis after being sent forward in time. "Oh no," he breathed out.

"What?" Rodney asked sharply.

Cringing, John wasn't sure if he should tell them or not. But in all fairness, he should prepare them. "When I was stuck in the future . . . with old Rodney . . . he was telling me why he left Atlantis. There were changes and . . . " he sighed and almost choked on what he needed to say. Teyla reached out and gripped his hand. Looking up at her, he squeezed back, drawing strength from her support.

"The IOA put Woolsey in charge. He halted all humanitarian efforts, said our only priority was defense of the city. Our whole purpose in being here changed almost overnight. Rodney and Dr. Keller left out of frustration at what Atlantis had become."

Ronon looked angry and Rodney looked devastated, making him wonder if he should have kept his mouth shut. "But . . . things are different . . . we aren't fighting a huge war with Michael and his hybrids. Even if he did survive, he doesn't have Teyla's baby to complete his research. Everything else has changed . . . maybe that will too."

"Must you always be so optimistic?" asked Rodney. "Let's face it, we're screwed. Big time screwed."

"No we aren't," John said emphatically. He brought his hand up to rub the back of his neck. "Look, the problems began when we lost the team. I disappeared, then Teyla was . . . " he broke off, unable to say it. "Then Ronon left and . . . the point is, we weren't able to stay together. This time we are. We're stronger as a team than when we're separate."

"John's right," Teyla said firmly. "Things are different this time and we are still together. There will be changes and I will miss Colonel Carter. I still miss Elizabeth. But as long as we are together, we can still accomplish much."

"We took back the city from the Asurans," said Rodney with a grin.

"We even blew up the Asuran home world," added Ronon.

"How many hive ships have we escaped from and destroyed?" asked John. He glanced at Torrin. "And we have a new life to protect . . . a new reason to keep this galaxy safe. And we'll do whatever we have to do to accomplish that." He met Teyla's eyes and smiled.

"If anyone says one for all and all for one, I'm barfing," said Rodney.

"Not the four musketeers," said John. "The Lanteans."

"Oh, for heaven's sake," muttered Rodney.

"No," said Teyla softly. She lifted her head and looked at each of them individually, ending with John. His breath caught in his throat, his mind already predicting what she was going to say. "We are family."