Rating is T – sometimes more adult themes and suggestion of torture
Summary: Romance, adventure, emotional and physical whump with John Sheppard and now established O/C Cat
Season: Season 5, post Inquisition
Spoilers: Season 5 generally
Disclaimer: Not mine. Though John Sheppard is in my guilty imagination

A/N:- This is a follow up to my story Anything is Possible and all the other John/Cat stories. It follows on directly from the end of this story, so you may need to read it to understand what's happening. I'm not sure how long this will be yet, but several chapters at least. Written to ease the pain of the end of the series.

The journey back to Atlantis had been an interesting one. Having said their rather embarrassed farewell to Balthus with a promise for further diplomatic talks, John and Cat had exited Danthos as quickly as possible, knowing full well that their friends and the High Counsellor probably had a good earful of what went on in the little room. Both knew that, when it came to their lovemaking, they were so often carried away in 'the moment' that they completely forgot about anything else. Not only that, John knew Woolsey would require an interview with Cat about the stolen puddle-jumper and he sincerely hoped that, for once, the man would ignore some of his precious protocols. The couple also had a lot to discuss yet about what the future held, and come to terms with becoming parents and there was the consideration too of Cat's age. In the euphoria of their reunion, they were so wrapped up in the bliss of being together again that they had pushed aside all these worries and, since neither was very good at facing problems head on, the next few hours promised to be a little awkward.

As John feared he could see Richard Woolsey on the balcony, through the front window of the puddle-jumper, as they arrived in the gate-room. He seriously contemplated making a run for it, but the moment the rear hatch open the call came in on his radio. 'Colonel Sheppard, please report to my office straight away and bring Doctor Sheppard with you if you please.' He turned to Cat and whispered in her ear that they needed to go to Woolsey immediately, kissing her cheek in reassurance and gently putting his arm around her shoulders. He no longer felt awkward showing his wife affection in public. Indeed, he had come an awful long way since he'd stopped being the solitary man and became happily one of a pair.

When she had so impetuously run away from Atlantis, Cat genuinely never expected to return. Looking back now, she couldn't believe how stupid she'd been, believing that he really didn't want her any more, and she had decided to put it down to pregnancy hormones. With a bit of luck, Woolsey would be so embarrassed at the discussion of 'women's' things, that he might just decide to dismiss the whole incident. The whole David/Andrew affair was also fresh in her mind and she desperately wanted to find some private time with John to finally talk things through, to tell him the whole truth and to explain why she hadn't told him long ago. Looking sideways at her husband, she saw the tension in his features, but felt comforted by the solid determination that was also there. He looked a little tired and still pale from the attempt on his life, and his beard had grown back quickly as it always did. Sometimes he would curse the speed with which his carefully shaved chin sprouted course dark hairs, but she loved it. It gave him even more of a rakish look than normal and simply made him more sexy than ever. Cat kicked herself for her naughty thoughts, putting them aside for later. For now, they needed to deal with whatever Woolsey had to throw at her.

Richard Woolsey was standing impatiently behind his desk. 'Doctor Sheppard, would you sit down please?' and he beckoned to one of the soft white chairs in the corner of his room. He paused for a moment before he continued, clearing his throat.' Now then, Doctor. There is the small matter of taking a puddle-jumper without filling in the correct paperwork. I am sure you know that I'm a stickler for these things, just as I am certain that you will not forget next time.' He smiled a small thin smile. 'I believe congratulations are in order, Doctor. I know nothing of how these things work, but I do remember from when my little Yorkie was expecting that she had terrible mood swings.' He looked affectionately at the picture of the dog, much missed and given to his wife as part of their divorce settlement. Damn, he missed that dog! Collecting his thoughts he went on,' so, we'll put his little oversight down to your 'em condition and call the matter closed, shall we?'

Cat looked at John in amazement, and he quickly grabbed her arm and guided her from the room. 'And, Colonel Sheppard, I'd like your full report on the diplomatic mission to Danthos as soon as possible please.'

'Yes, Mr Woolsey. And thank you.' John smiled. So, the man was human after all?

Somehow, the couple managed to reach their quarters with only one or two diversions, mostly kindly smiles and greetings. The door shut gratefully behind them and wordlessly John took her hand and guided her to sit on the bed. He sat opposite her and for a few minutes they looked at each other as though by looking away the other might disappear, not daring to let go the hand they had clutched since they'd left Woolsey's office.

'How pregnant are we?' he asked, a huge smile beginning to creep across his handsome features.

'About fourteen weeks, according to Jennifer. I had no idea; I didn't feel sick or anything and I just thought I'd put on a bit of weight.' The morning in the infirmary when, recovering from her near drowning, Jennifer Keller came to her with the result from the routine blood test was etched into her memory. Shock, then worry, then pleasure, then nervousness had all hit her at once. And, the irony of it, that she should discover she was having another child on the same day she had found and lost the first one. 'I'll need to have some tests in a couple of weeks, just to make sure everything is okay, but Jennifer says that more and more older women are having perfectly healthy babies.'

John pulled her closer to him, enveloping her in his arms, whispering words of love in her ear. Until the moment he had overheard Jennifer's comment in the gym, he hadn't seriously considered the notion of fatherhood. I mean, he'd romanticised about having a son to play football with or a daughter to protect, but no more, and he knew that Cat hadn't wanted it either. Now, though, he couldn't imagine how he could have felt unsure. This was just the most right thing, apart from making the decision to get up off his lazy romantic ass and love Cat, in the Universe. He ran his hand across her belly, imagining the growing life inside, then leant forward and kissed his wife tenderly. They leant back on the bed, his arm around her protectively and both promptly fell fast asleep, the first real sleep either had had for days.

Cat woke to an empty bed and the light from Atlantis' suns shining dimly through the window. She loved early morning in the city, when all but the night shift were still in bed and the city hummed peacefully to itself. For her and John, both with the strongest ATA gene, the city was a friend and had a personality unique to herself. During the day, she positively sang with pleasure at the people busying themselves around her corridors and rooms and Cat felt sorry for those who couldn't hear her. The gentle humming became a slightly tinkly singing at first light, as Atlantis looked forward to her friends awakening. This morning, the city's singing was not the only sound Cat woke up to, the John-shaped dent in the bed next to her showing that her husband had recently got up. Cat smiled at the tuneless alarm call that was coming from the direction of the shower. John had a good ear for music and was even quite proficient on his guitar, but his singing voice was dreadful. This morning he was wailing at top voice, and she was surprised that the city hadn't muffled her ears.

Well, there was only one way to stop the racket! She crept out of bed and opened the door to the shower room. John was leaning against the shower, his back to her, clearly enjoying the sensuous pleasure of the perfectly heated water, singing along to the city, oblivious to everything else. Cat took a moment to admire his back and rear, still slender and perfectly toned, the result of many years of running and, let's face it, a total inability to sit still. John was the most fidgety person she knew and she tried not to let it annoy her, in almost direct contrast to her quiet stillness. For once his manic hair was flat to his head, but only by the good graces of the water, and she knew that it would ping back the moment it started to dry. John had strong shoulders and a broad neck, which only improved with the years, the little 'v' shape in his hair at the nape directing her eyes back down his spine again as though designed for that very purpose. She wanted to make little pleased mewling noises every time she looked his naked body over because, as well as the deep and abiding love she felt for him, she also fancied him like mad and sometimes had to pinch herself to believe he really was hers.

She tiptoed into the shower, even though he probably wouldn't have heard her anyway above the racket he was making, and moved stealthily towards him. This wasn't the first time she'd tried to creep up on him and every time she'd failed, his infamous 'spidy' sense always seeming to 'feel' her presence. As she placed her, rather cold, hand on his rear she expected him to jump but he just relaxed into her body, stopped the 'singing' and pressed his back into her now even fuller than usual breasts, encouraging her to move her hands to his front and feel for herself how well he knew she was there. Then, he turned round and with a mischievous grin pulled her further under the shower, water pouring off both their bodies which glistened with the soft green light shining from the ceiling. John was about ten centimetres taller than her, and as he pulled her even closer, she raised herself up on her toes and nibbled his bottom lip, before he couldn't restrain himself any longer and the kiss deepened lustfully. Before she lost herself completely in him, Cat briefly reflected upon the power of her husband's full lips and her total inability to resist him, and then she gave herself entirely up to the passion of the moment, all other worries and concerns put aside, even managing to ignore the discomfort of making love in a shower until afterwards when she had to nurse a rather interesting tap shaped purple bruise on her left buttock.

Afterwards, he tenderly dried her down and wrapped her up with him in the large pink towel, before bundling her back towards the bed. One conversation had been had, and it was now important to get the other out of the way, so that they could move on. With as reassuring a smile as he could muster, he asked the question he didn't really want to hear the answer to, thinking that a moment of such togetherness and warm security was probably the best time to face the truth.

'Tell me about Andrew? What happened to make you give him up for adoption? Who was the father?' He waited patiently for Cat to begin.

With a slightly quivering voice, she began. 'I was sixteen and rather obsessed with my History teacher at school. Looking back, he was probably only in his early twenties, but he seemed an awful lot older to me then. He should have known better, and he certainly paid for his indiscretion, but I won't pretend that I didn't throw myself at him, or that he was the dastardly villain who attacked an innocent young girl. He did take advantage of my naivety, though, and he was the first man I slept with, and the last for quite a while. It only took two times for me to fall pregnant and then, of course, the shit really hit the fan.' She paused briefly, knowing that she would need now to reveal some deeply buried secrets. 'My father was, well he was a brutal man, violent and bad-tempered and I was an only child, and a daughter at that, not the son he'd always wanted. He used to hit me quite often and I became used to it after a while,' a sideways glance showed her that John was scowling angrily at the thought of anyone hurting her and he pulled her tighter towards him as though able to protect her from injuries suffered so long ago,' but I've never seen him so purple with rage as when I told him and my mother I was pregnant. I'd left it to as late as possible, frightened of the consequences, and it was too late to have an abortion. I was given a stark choice. Get out then and there or give the baby up for adoption. Even so afraid of my father, the thought of being on the streets and pregnant was unbearable and I stayed. When David, no Andrew, was born he was taken out of my arms straight away and I never saw him until the day he stepped onto Atlantis, although I thought of him often, especially in the early years. ' Cat paused in an attempt to regain some semblance of self control, not daring to look at John again in case it set her off down an emotional avenue that she had long since refused to enter and she needed to tell him everything while she had the courage. 'In my twenties, I finally left home but only to marry a man who my father wanted me to marry. It was a 'beneficial business deal' with part of the unofficial marriage settlement a partnership in a large firm for him and his snobbery was massaged by his new found ability to boast about his daughter's husband, nearly a member of the English landed gentry. Malcolm was yet another bastard in my life. He only wanted me for the children he thought I'd give him and really wasn't very interested in women at all. Eventually, he too became violent , especially when drunk, realising fairly quickly that I wasn't the 'little-wife' type and finally he put me in hospital with several broken ribs and a punctured lung. The divorce settlement was generous enough for me to leave for America and you know the rest. I didn't tell you because, well because I was ashamed. Ashamed of what I did, ashamed of my father, ashamed of my failures, guilty about it all and then all the baby pressure started to build and I just didn't know if I could go through all that again. But now,' and she allowed herself finally a glance up at him, surprised to see so much emotion in his face, 'I can't imagine why I ever didn't want this. It just seems so right.' She stopped, suddenly very tired, and leant against his shoulder, shaking with the effort of letting out so many long buried secrets.

For a moment, John was silent, and then she felt him take a deep breath. 'Since this is a time for confessions, I suppose I should make a few....I'm not very good at this kind of thing. My father was a difficult man too and a business man, so we have something in common there. He wanted me to run the family business, but I was always more interested in fast cars and girls.' She punched him gently for that. 'Looking back, I must have been a very difficult teenager, stubborn and reckless, and he had to rescue me from trouble several times, usually to do with driving too fast or getting into fights. When I told him I'd joined the air force, it was the last straw for him and he threw me out of the family home. It took two years for me to buck up the courage to apologise and for a short time he grudgingly accepted me back. Then he introduced me to Nancy, my ex-wife, and it was clear that he thought she would 'tame' me and help bring me back into the fold, but the marriage never worked. I had to leave at a moment's notice on missions I could tell her nothing about and I don't think I cared enough about her to even try to make it work. In retrospect, I was in the wrong. I think she cared for me much more than I did for her and I treated her very badly. The divorce was the beginning of the end for my father, and then when the whole Afghanistan thing happened, he called me to the house and we had a terrible row which ended with things being said on both sides that should never have been voiced, and a full-scale fist fight. He was a strong man, my father, and he managed to floor me. I remember the look in his eyes as he registered what he'd done then I got up, turned my back and left for good. My life was a mess and I was dispatched to the Antarctic. And, yes, you know the rest from there, or most of it anyway.' John stopped, amazed at revealing so much about himself.

They sat, curled together for comfort, on the bed in silence, no more needing to be said. Other couples might have tried to break the silence with inconsequential utterings of sympathy, but these two had so much in common that they knew it wasn't needed, just as they knew they would never need to talk of these things again. They would look forward, not back, whatever life might bring for them, but in the knowledge that nothing was hidden and they knew each other better than any other person ever would. Eventually, Cat felt John stir and he gently leant forward and kissed her.

'I have to go, you know. Woolsey's expecting a report from me and there must be a ton of crap to wade through. I've not really been doing my job for several weeks. Lorne's done good, but I do need to get back.' He swung his legs over the side of the bed, unwrapping himself from the large towel they'd snuggled into, and walked across the room towards the cupboard, giving her yet another opportunity to stare at his body and his pert bottom. She could swear that he did it deliberately, the slightly exaggerated sway of his hips as he walked being a give-away, and she had the feeling, as she always did, that contrary to public opinion he was not a confident man in his obvious good looks and loved to have the woman he loved perusing him with such clear admiration.

Once he had left, she finally stirred herself, thinking that work was probably the best idea right now. She needed to find a sense of normality after everything that had happened and the Archives Library was the best place to do that. She had no doubt that, like John, a pile of work awaited her, and she was right. As ever, she became totally engrossed in what she was doing and the buzz of her radio made her jump.

'Doctor Sheppard. It's Richard Woolsey here. Colonel Sheppard wanted to me to let you know that he's had to go off-world urgently and apologise that he couldn't get to tell you in person. There's a small emergency on a Genii controlled planet and SGA1's help was requested. I have no ETA for him, but I'll keep you informed. Oh, and he, ah, told me to tell you not to worry and that he'll always come back to you.' The poor man was clearly quite embarrassed and Cat thanked him politely and without further questioning: she probably wouldn't get any answers anyway and would have to sit and wait, as always, reflecting upon the irony of how 'normal' this was.

***

Atlantis' premier team walked through the gate onto a desert planet, the dry heat hitting them in waves as the gate shut down behind them. They were expecting a greeting party, but no-one was in sight. Rodney glanced at his life-signs detector and shook his head at John's unasked question, while Ronon and Teyla investigated the immediate vicinity. Without warning, the ground beneath their feet began to tremble, then shake, and John just about managed to get out the words 'earthquake' and 'dial the damn gate' before the earth gave out underneath his feet and he was swallowed up by the planet before his team could reach him, all that was left the disturbed surface and an area of slightly looser soil. Of John, there was not a sign.

TBC

Please R& R. You know how much I need it! All positive criticism welcomed.