Title: Journey To the Past
Disclaimers: None of the characters from Stargate Atlantis belong to me.
"I am obligated to tell you, Colonel Sheppard, that we are not the only people who occupy this world. There is another continent to the north that has a non-humanoid society. You may think nothing of this, but they can be rather rowdy and have been known to attack unprovoked."
John nodded. "Thanks for the warning, Jarrod, but I'm sure we'll be fine. We just want to check out your ruins and learn about the people who put them there. I don't even foresee us being here for more than two days."
"Very well. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to help. Although my people do not do much exploring and archaeology, you are still guests on our world and we intend to make certain your research is fruitful."
"Thank you," John replied with a smile. Jarrod nodded and left.
John headed back to the ruins where Elizabeth was translating a section of the wall. As he stood behind her, he could smell her vanilla shampoo. When they first arrived to Atlantis the last thing John Sheppard thought would happen was that he would fall in love.
Of course, they had at least thought they would have heard from Earth by this point as well. It was almost five years with no word and no ZPM either. How they survived he would never know. Luck, Carson called it. At the moment he was inclined to agree.
"John, if you stand that close, I won't be able to concentrate."
"Sorry," he said, not in the least bit. "Where is everyone?"
"Inside. Rodney wanted to check something out but I didn't want him going alone so I sent Teyla and Ronon with him. You know how he can get."
John certainly did, but now that he knew that crazy people were around here, he didn't want her alone either. Although he wasn't going to voice that opinion in front of Elizabeth.
"So," he said. "Anything of interest?"
"Yes. This talks about their friendship with the Ancients. Apparently the Ancients helped to protect them from the..." Elizabeth had trouble coming up with the proper word to translate. "Centaurs?"
John's eyebrow rose. "Are you serious?"
She shrugged. "If I'm translating this right. There's nothing to describe what they look like, though."
"Well, Jarrod was just telling me about some nasty not so human-like people on the north continent. Could they be who they're talking about here?"
"Seems like it. When the Ancients left for Earth, this planet was still populated, however, they weren't culled by the wraith."
John put two and two together. "Oh, the civil war that Jarrod mentioned at lunch."
"Exactly," Elizabeth replied. "And some people still believe it's going on even though a treaty was signed."
"That we do."
John turned to the sound of the deep voice. He never thought he would see an actual centaur, but then again, he never even dreamed about visiting another galaxy.
"You will put down your weapon and the two of you will come with us... Quietly."
John glanced back at Elizabeth, who had moved behind him. She nodded slowly and he understood her silent message. If they cooperated, perhaps Elizabeth could negotiate with him.
"We don't mean any harm," Elizabeth said, stepping around John. "We're just peaceful explorers studying these ancient ruins."
The Centaur merely stared at her in curiosity. "You are different than the people who live in this country."
"You carry weapons."
John answered that question. "It's for protection against the wraith."
"The wraith have not been to our world in a long time," he said, bristling with anger.
"Hey," John replied. "Calm down. As she said, we are not here to hurt you."
Elizabeth could see that the Centaur wasn't buying it. She saw him reaching for his weapon and before she could even think, she moved in front of John. Elizabeth heard him cry out her name before she lost consciousness.
John felt a tight grip on his arm and looked up at the Centaur in anger. The Centaur returned the look, also grabbing Elizabeth. "You are both coming with me. I have a fun little game I want you to play."
"Sheppard, come in!" Rodney sighed loud. "I swear, if he and Elizabeth are..."
"McKay, shut up."
Teyla just shook her head at the two, heading to the door. "Perhaps there is interference and that's why they're not responding."
She had only been gone for five minutes when their radios came to life. "The Colonel and Elizabeth are not here."
"See," Rodney said, "I told you they were--"
"Rodney, I believe they were abducted!"
"What?" he asked, rushing outside. What he saw made his stomach churn. John's weapons were on the ground and a fresh puddle of blood was mixed in with the dirt.
Teyla watched as Ronon studied the tracks. They seemed to lead towards the north. "Ronon?"
"Whoever took them has four legs and is pulling one of them across the ground."
"Oh this is not good! We need to find them fast! Who knows what that thing is capable of if Sheppard couldn't even beat it!"
Ronon stood up, glaring at Rodney. "You two get to the Gate and call for back up. I'm going after them."
"Hey, stop!" John cried out. "You're hurting her!"
The Centaur glared at him but stopped. That's when John noticed about five or six others surrounding them. He knew he wasn't getting away, not with Elizabeth unconscious and there was no way in hell he was going to leave her.
As the Centaurs began to talk, John knelt next to Elizabeth. He was relieved to feel a faint pulse. The weapon had only grazed her temple, but the force had been strong enough to knock her out. That and the fact she was being dragged across the ground.
"Elizabeth?" he said, trying to wake her. She stirred but didn't open her eyes. "Come on, Elizabeth."
"Oh thank God!"
"What happened?" she asked, blinking. Elizabeth moaned, holding a hand to her head.
"Just lie still," John replied.
"John, tell me."
"Goliath the Centaur over there shot you. You shouldn't have jumped in front of me, Elizabeth!"
She waved John off and sat up, closing her eyes as a dizziness and nausea washed over her. "I'm fine," she told him. "Besides, how many times do you protect others, John Sheppard? I thought I would return the favor."
"Please don't do that again."
Before Elizabeth could reply, Goliath bent down and grabbed John by his hair. "Let him go!" she exclaimed. One of his friends smacked her across the face and she fell back, dazed.
"Stop it! Leave her out of this!"
"We will eventually," Goliath said. John's eyes widened when one of the other Centaurs handed a long needle to him. "Say good night, Colonel."
John was unable to escape from Goliath's grasp as the drug was injected into his neck. The last thing he saw as he drifted into the darkness was Elizabeth's unmoving form.
Elizabeth woke up feeling only slightly better. At least her vision was back to normal. She looked around to see she was in a rather nice room and lying in a comfortable bed.
She felt something at the base of her neck and reached up to touch it. With a cry, she ran to the mirror and tried to get a good look at it. Before Elizabeth could even figure out what it was, she felt a small shock and fell to the floor...
Elizabeth was standing in the living room of a one story home. Glancing at the pictures on the mantel, she recognized the young boy immediately by his untamed hair.
She heard a door slam and a lanky 10-year-old boy came in. He looked completely lost. Elizabeth wanted to comfort him, but he didn't even acknowledge her. "He probably doesn't even know I'm here," she said quietly.
Elizabeth turned to see John. He seemed to be all right. "What's going on?"
"Do you remember reading those reports from SG1 about those reality environment things?" At her nod, he continued. "This is the Centaur's version of it."
"How long have you been in here?"
John shrugged. "No clue. I'm just not having much fun," he replied, looking at his younger self. One of the worst days of his life.
"May I ask what's going on here?"
"My Mom just died," John replied with a shudder.
Elizabeth moved closer to John, taking his hand in hers as his Father entered the room. She could sadness and exhaustion on his face and that's when Elizabeth realized she had no idea how she died.
The younger John looked up at his Father. At first, the man wouldn't look at him, but John made sure to stare until he finally gave in and moved to kneel in front of him. "Johnny?"
"It's my fault, isn't it Dad?" he replied. "I made her sick."
Michael Sheppard shook his head. "No you didn't. Your Mom was already sick from the cancer. Just because you both caught a cold doesn't mean you were responsible. Remember what the doctor said when we found out she was sick to begin with?"
"Her immune system might not work."
"Exactly so you had nothing to do with it."
John nodded, tears falling from his eyes. "I miss her, Dad."
"I miss her too, Johnny," he replied, hugging him tightly.
Elizabeth looked over at John again, she hugged him just as his Father had. "It's all right, John," she whispered.
There was a flash of light and they were standing in a small cell with a lone figure sitting in the middle of the room, tied to a chair. Elizabeth was the first to notice the scene had changed.
John looked from her to the figure. "Elizabeth...?"
"Yes, that's me. I was helping to negotiate in Afghanistan and I was captured for my efforts." She looked down at her hands. "It's a moment in my life that I tried so hard to forget. In fact, it was the reason I almost quit all of it."
John was about to say something when a man entered. He stood before her then began pacing the room. John glanced over at Elizabeth when she tensed. He put an arm around her but she didn't acknowledge him. She only watched as the man interrogated her younger self.
John could tell that this wasn't a good thing. Angrily he shouted, "Stop this now!"
"Why should we stop this?" a voice asked.
"Can't you see how much this is hurting her?"
"Of course," the voice replied. "That is why we do it. We learn to study our enemies weaknesses."
John shook his head. "No! We are not your enemies! We are peaceful explorers from another world. We only just met Jarrod and his people. Besides, all we're really doing is checking out the Ancient ruins."
"You are consorting with our enemies!"
"We're not consorting with anyone!" Instead hearing an answer from the voice, John heard Elizabeth cry out. "What are you doing?"
"You will obey us or I will kill her."
"How about a deal?" John asked, hugging Elizabeth close as she clutched her head in pain. "You only go through my mind and not hurt her and I'll cooperate with you. If only so we can get out of this place faster."
"John..." she whispered weakly. "Don't. I'll be fine."
He ignored her response. "Well?"
"It is agreed upon. We will give her time to rest."
In another flash of light, John woke up to find himself in a small room. He sat up, looking for Elizabeth and was relieved to find her on the floor next to him. He lifted and carried her to the bed.
Elizabeth stirred when he set her down. "John?" she said softly, reaching for the back of her neck.
"Don't touch it," John replied, placing a hand on her forehead. "It looks like the area's become infected and you have a fever."
"Just what I need," she muttered. "John, I..."
He lay down next to her and held her as she cried. "I'll get us out of here, I promise!" John said.
"Why did you do that?" she asked after she had calmed down. "Why can't you ever let me protect you?"
John took a deep breath. "Elizabeth, you did and you nearly died because of it. Besides who knows what that thing is doing to you with your head injury. Just relax here cause it's probably almost time for me to go back in."
"John, remember that you're not alone. I love you!"
"I love you too," he replied, kissing her softly on the lips.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself watching a familiar court scene. The hearing about going after Brian Holland. He could see Brian's family there. His Mother's eyes filled with sadness, his Father and brother's filled with anger.
Anger at him.
John quietly followed his lawyer out of the room. Even though he had gotten away with only a black mark, he still felt horrible. John saw Jansen Holland following. He remembered exactly what happened next and didn't need the Centaurs to show him but they were going to anyway.
Jansen was Brian's older brother. He was a good friend of John's until Brian didn't come back alive. Jansen blamed John. He hated John. He figured that if Brian were dead, John should be too.
John had remembered feeling the bullet strike his back before he heard it. He remembered the feeling of terror racing through him as he realized he couldn't move. Not because of the pain. No, he had become paralyzed.
"John!" he heard a voice cry out.
"Elizabeth? What are you doing here? I thought..."
John noticed that fresh tears stained her beautiful face. He reached up to wipe them away. "I'm sorry, but you were... almost convulsing. I asked to be brought in here. I don't want you to have to do this alone."
"I appreciate that," John replied, taking her hand.
Elizabeth watched as John tried to deal with being paralyzed. The doctors told him it was temporary, until the swelling was down. Michael Sheppard was wonderful. He helped his son realize that being paralyzed wasn't the end of the world and three months later John was walking again.
Elizabeth saw him visibly pale when the scene changed again. "John?"
John swallowed around the lump in his throat, clenching his eyes shut. "Please not this. Please!"
Suddenly they were sitting in the backseat of a car with John and his Dad up front. "Are you sure about this, John?" Michael asked.
"I really need to get out of the mainstream for awhile. I need to put all that behind me."
"But Nancy was ready to come back to you."
The current John glanced over at Elizabeth while the other answered. "No she wasn't, Dad. I know how much you wanted us to. How much I wanted to, but this is for the best, trust me. Maybe down the line, who knows, but I just wasn't as ready as I thought."
"I understand what you're saying, son," Michael replied.
Elizabeth watched in horror as Michael lost control of the car when because of a patch of black ice. A few minutes later, they were standing on the road, staring at the dent in the driver's side door.
John turned away having lived through it once was enough. Elizabeth couldn't tear her eyes away from the scene. John was calling out to his Father, but the older man wasn't even stirring.
Sirens were heard in the distance and suddenly everything seemed to fast-forward and they were sitting in a hospital waiting room.
John stood when he heard his name, but he could tell by the look on the physician's face that he wasn't the bearer of good news. "I'm sorry, but we did everything we could, Mr. Sheppard. The blood loss was just too great."
He nodded numbly as the doctor walked away. He was truly and utterly alone now.
As the scene faded away, Elizabeth took that moment to look at the real John Sheppard. He looked ready to collapse. She reached for him as everything faded around her and their room came into focus again.
"John?" She began to worry when he didn't respond to her. "John, snap out of it! John!"
"He will be fine," a voice said. "When he wakes you may leave."
Elizabeth glared at the security camera. "Yeah, thanks," she muttered hearing the lock unlatch.
It was almost an hour before John came to. He blinked, looking over at Elizabeth, who had fallen asleep. Her face was still flushed with fever and she was shivering. John leaned over to kiss her softly and this caused her to stir.
"Sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"No, it's all right. The Centaurs said we could leave when we were ready."
"It would appear so."
John sat up, closing his eyes to the sudden bout of nausea. He took several deep breaths to calm himself, and then stood. "Ready?"
"As I'll ever be."
The pair left the room hand in hand. Just before they arrived at the exit, they found a table with everything they had before the Centaur attack, including John's P-90. "We'd better go before they change their minds," John said, pulling on his tac vest. "Ow!"
Elizabeth winced in sympathy as he jarred the protrusion in his neck. "Are you all right?"
"I've been better," he replied, taking her hand again. "Lets get out of here."
"I'm picking up life signs about three miles in that direction," Rodney said. "Sheppard, this is McKay, come in. Sheppard?"
"You're wasting your breath, McKay," Ronon replied.
"Rodney, where are you guys?"
Rodney gave Ronon a look. "Ha."
"John, it is good to hear your voice," Teyla said with a smile. "Are you well?"
"As well as can be expected considering we were attacked by centaurs."
Teyla and Ronon looked over at Rodney. "Remember that four legged creature with the body of a man in Harry Potter?"
"One of those attacked you?" Ronon asked. He had been quite a fan of the centaurs in that movie.
"Yeah," John replied. "Now if you guys don't mind, where are you cause we'd really like to get back home."
Ten minutes later, they were all at the Gate ready to go through. Teyla noticed John and Elizabeth's haggard appearance. She gave a Ronon a look and they each went over to help.
Elizabeth smiled at Teyla. "Thanks. John has been so strong for me but I don't know how much longer he could hold the two of us up."
"It is nothing, Elizabeth," she replied.
"This is embarrassing, you know that?" John asked.
"Quit being a baby, Sheppard."
Rodney typed in his IDC and nodded to the others. "Carson should be waiting for us on the other side. Lets get out here!"
"I couldn't agree more," John replied as Ronon helped him to the Gate. That's when John felt exceedingly tired. "I'm gonna pass out now, Ronon."
When John woke up next, he was on his stomach. White-hot pain flared down his back from his neck and he must have moaned. "Doc!"
"Colonel Sheppard," Carson replied. "I'm sorry about that! We're just trying to figure out what will happen if we remove the items in your necks."
John suddenly remembered Elizabeth and he attempted to sit up. "Just relax, John," Teyla said. "She is safe."
"Aye, Colonel. Elizabeth's entry point has been infected and she has low-grade fever. She also has a concussion and massive bruising near her left temple. Can you remember what happened?"
John closed his eyes as he began to relay their time with the centaurs. "Once we were finished, he said we could go..."
"Colonel?" Carson sighed, noticing that John had drifted out again. "Of course he neglected to tell me how he came about his injuries and unless Elizabeth wakes up soon we aren't going to know."
"How are you going to get those things out of their necks?" Rodney asked.
Carson stared thoughtfully at the metal object. "Ronon, Teyla, can you return to the planet, maybe speak with Jarrod and his people. Perhaps they'll know something about the race of people who did this?"
"We will have Major Lorne's team accompany us and take a Jumper," Teyla replied with a nod.
The pair was getting ready to leave when Ronon noticed Rodney still standing there. "McKay?"
"Um, if you guys don't mind, I'll stay here."
Teyla smiled. "Of course, Rodney. After all, you are in charge right now."
"Yeah," Rodney yelped. "I am."
Carson turned to face the nervous scientist. "Rodney, why don't you sit with Elizabeth while I take the Colonel back for those scans? I want to get these things out as soon as possible."
Rodney slowly moved over to Elizabeth's bedside. The nurse, Suzy he saw, handed him the cloth she was using to keep her forehead cool. "Just talk to her, Dr. McKay. I'm going to go back to help Carson."
"Okay." He waited for her to be out of earshot before he spoke up. "Hey Elizabeth. Just wanted you to know that I'm here right now since John can't be. Maybe you can wake up too cause he's not gonna tell us what happened to him."
Rodney must have lost track of time because suddenly Carson was next to him. "We figured out a way to remove them without damaging anything important. We're getting Colonel Sheppard ready right now."
"Any idea what that thing is doing to them?"
Carson sighed, shaking his head. "I can't even hazard a guess. I was going to give it to you to see what you can come up with because I don't see any medical reason for it."
John sighed in relief when he woke up and realized the offending object had been removed from his neck. A glance to his right showed Elizabeth's was gone as well. She seemed to be sleeping soundly but he wanted to move closer.
Ignoring the twinges of pain he felt, John deftly removed his IV and headed to her bedside. John took a deep breath the quell the nausea threaten to rear it's ugly head. It had calmed somewhat by the time he took Elizabeth's hand in his.
John bent down to kiss her softly on the lips. "I love you, Elizabeth. I just wanted you to know that."
He was a bit worried that she didn't even stir and looked around the room. There wasn't even a nurse on the floor. John decided he would go to Carson's office. He had to at least be present, right?
Instead of moving towards the office, a wave of dizziness caught him off guard and he felt himself falling to floor. "Sheppard!" Rodney exclaimed.
"Yeah," he replied, helping his friend. "What the hell were you doing?"
John was going to come up with something clever, but he knew Rodney would see right through it. "Wanted to make sure Elizabeth was all right. She didn't wake up when I... when I kissed her. Is she all right, Rodney? Where's Carson?"
"Just relax and I'll tell you what I know."
According to Rodney, the devices had been removed but Elizabeth was still unresponsive. Her fever had spiked to 102 while John was in surgery.
Carson came up to them before Rodney could continue. "I see you've been out of your bed, Colonel."
"What?" John looked at the physician sheepishly when Carson held up the IV tubing. "Sorry, Doc."
"It's all right, Colonel, but I highly recommend you remain in bed. You are both severely dehydrated and your injuries won't heal properly if you keep moving around..."
John noticed the hesitation in Carson's voice. "What's wrong?"
"Elizabeth slipped into a coma sometime after we removed the device," Carson replied.
"When will she wake up?"
Rodney noted that his voice was nothing more than a whisper. Almost as if he didn't think it'd be true if he said it louder. "You know how strong Elizabeth is," he said, trying not to sound too nervous.
"Rodney, why aren't you looking me in the eye?" John asked. "Carson?"
Carson finally spoke up. "There's a chance Elizabeth may never wake up."
John stared at him in stunned silence. This wasn't fair, she wasn't even supposed to go on the mission but the original translator they had got sick. This was all his fault. He should have been the one protecting her, not the other way around. He's the reason she may never wake up again.
He's the reason he'll never hear her laugh again or see the love in her eyes.
"Sheppard!" Rodney exclaimed. "Sheppard, snap out of it!"
John blinked, surprised to hear his monitors beeping incessantly. Carson explained he must have been having a panic attack. After a few minutes, he finally calmed down. "I'm fine."
Carson wasn't so certain but said he'd be right back. When he returned he had a syringe in his hand. "Doc?" John asked.
"Well, not only do I know you're in a lot of pain, Colonel, I know that you'll need your sleep and if you keep thinking of Elizabeth constantly that's not going to happen."
John nodded slowly as the drug began to take it's effect. "Wake me up when Elizabeth wakes up."
"I will, John, I promise," Carson said.
"Sheppard, you need to talk about what happened!" Rodney said. "You can't go on like this."
John sat back in his chair. It had been two weeks since he and Elizabeth had returned to Atlantis. Two weeks since she slipped into a coma. And two weeks of Rodney pestering him to talk about what happened.
He just wanted to forget it all, but since he couldn't he decided to lay it all out on the table. For one, Rodney would stop pestering him and two, just maybe he'd be able to get some sleep. John took a deep breath. "We're gonna be here awhile."
Rodney listened in stunned silence has John finished his account of what happened. "Oh my God, no wonder you were having issues with this. I would have issues with this!"
"I think anyone would, Rodney," John replied. "I just hope Elizabeth wakes up soon because I can't concentrate and that's not a good thing when one is in charge."
"Hey, I could take over for you if you want," Rodney requested cheerfully.
John's eyebrow raised. "You? You want to run the city? You want to do paperwork and listen to all your scientists complain about my men and vice versa? You want to sit in this chair and not do any research? You want to..."
"Okay, okay, I get it! No thanks, that seems more suited for, well Elizabeth, not you."
John sat up, eyes wide. "Go ahead, Carson."
"Thought might you like to know that Elizabeth's awake and she's asking for you."
Rodney watched John's expression, but it was unreadable. He had no idea what Carson could possibly be telling him over the radio. If something bad had happened, wouldn't the physician do that in person?
He blinked when he suddenly realized John was snapping his fingers directly in front of him. "You okay?"
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" Rodney replied.
John nodded, smiling so wide, Rodney would swear his face would be sore later. "I'm great, Rodney. Now lets go!"