DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis or NCIS.
Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
He opened his eyes and squinted, slowly adapting to the glaring light. A fresh breeze swept through his hair, bringing with it a familiar scent of roses and cinnamon. Somehow, it didn't surprise him, when she appeared to his right, standing apart from him, but still as vivid as ever, her presence undiminished.
No sounds reached his ears from the street below, despite the crowd of Parisians laughing and talking in the little cafés.
"This is a dream," he stated calmly, calmer than he should be, he dimly noticed. "You are dead. I buried you."
Jenny turned to him and smiled. She looked younger, more carefree than he had ever seen her in the last few years.
"Yes, I am," she confirmed serenely and suddenly her calm acceptance of that fact enraged him beyond reason.
"God damn it, Jenny!" he howled like a wounded wolf. "You are dead!" He felt the words spear him like a knife, the agony of that single thought too much for him. He loved her; had loved her for years, in fact. To not have her with him, one of his best friends, his most trusted confidant and lover gone in a flash; it was painful beyond belief.
She tilted her head in amusement, her hair flashing in the bright sunlight.
"I thought we already established that fact."
He growled at her tone of voice, then, abruptly, looked away, his shoulders slumping, the anger gone for the moment.
"Don't leave me, Jen." It was a plea, a cry to save him from loneliness, desperation in its purest form.
"I will always be with you," she soothed him and her smile softened. "But you cannot bring me back to the plane of the living."
"It's my fault."
"Don't be ridiculous, Jethro. I was already dying long before the coma or before John appeared. There was nothing you could have done to cure me. I do not regret the way I died. It was for a good cause. Even if I was alive, would that have changed anything?"
"What do you mean?" He was surprised, both by the question and the disclosure of her condition.
"We have danced around this issue for years, Jethro," she said softly. "You would never have been able to take things further and I…I wanted more out of life than this." She stepped closer and pressed a palm against his cheek, turning his head so she could catch his eyes. "I could never have competed with the memory of her, no matter what you felt for me. I deserved better."
With brutal gentleness she rose up to her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his in a fleeting caress.
"As long as you cling to the past like you do, you will never be able to move forward and it is my deepest wish that you do so. It is the only road worth walking. Goodbye, Jethro."
She turned to go. Perhaps it was the feeling that this was his last chance. Perhaps it was an epiphany or simply the first time he had the courage to admit it.
"I love you, Jen." The whisper was full of emotion, a broken echo of things that might have been, had he had the courage. She turned one final time, her smile radiating with warmth, compassion and love.
"And I love you, Jethro." As she walked away and the sunlight swallowed her, her parting words flooded his soul with forgiveness and absolution. Despite the knowledge that this had been a dream, he suddenly felt lighter in a way he hadn't since before the death of his wife.
"I love you, Jen," he repeated to himself. "Thank you." Somehow, he knew, that she had just saved him.
Teyla sat on the bench beside him, carefully cataloguing everything she saw. He was leaning forward, his body sapped of his strength. His eyes stared unblinkingly at the ocean, dark and troubled, while he took another gulp of what she knew to be his last bottle of Earthern Scotch.
"Should you be drinking that?" she asked somewhat disapprovingly.
"Don't you worry, lass, I'm a doctor. I know what I can and cannot do," he said dryly and took another defiant swallow. Teyla did not react to the acerbic comment, instead deciding to sit quietly and wait for him to speak. Finally, he sighed heavily and turned his head, meeting her eyes in both defeat and helplessness.
"He died for me." His voice broke and the tears that had gathered spilled forward, no longer caged by his iron will. "He willed his life force into me, undoing what the Wraith had done. Look at me!" His body shook with heavy sobs as he sprang up, swinging the bottle in his hands from one side to the other. Teyla knew what he meant. Carson looked younger now, much younger. His physical age was at most in the early thirties. "He sacrificed himself for me! He shouldn't have! Damn it!" The strength his anger had given him disappeared and he fell heavily onto the bench.
"It was his choice," she soothed as she hugged him tenderly. "You were important enough for him to do so and I do not believe that Aiden regarded many that way. Somewhere inside the monster that emerged from the Camps was a rest of the old Aiden Ford and he decided that your life was important enough to save. That is how you should remember him: as a friend who gave his life so that you may live."
As Carson continued to cry in her arms, she silently thanked her departed friend and sent a prayer to the Ancestors. Perhaps, the tortured soul that had been Aiden Ford would now walk on a different path. She hoped that it would be a happy one.
Peter felt the beginnings of a headache when he saw Seren Ari Meir enter his office with the kind of stoic face that hinted of things going to hell in a hand basket.
"So," he sighed and rubbed his forehead, "let's hear it."
The seren sat down heavily in the visitor's chair, the area around his eyes tightening and his hands folding in his lap.
"Our analysts have finally managed to decrypt the files." Meir paused.
"And?" Peter asked, proud that his voice did not display the dread he was beginning to feel.
"It is worse than we thought."
"Worse?" How could it be worse?
"Our assumptions were correct. The new High Queen has indeed declared a Purge on all Lanteans and all those of Alteran heritage." Meir swallowed and took a deep breath. His right hand curled into a fist. "That is not all, though. The data in one of the files mentioned how this new High Queen has been able to consolidate so much power." He paused once more, then visibly forced himself to continue. "The Wraith have managed to find another abandoned Alteran outpost. We believe it to be similar to Atlantis in technology and perhaps even firepower."
Peter paled rapidly and closed his eyes. What else could possibly go wrong?
"We also believe that they will be able to access most of it now that they have been able to analyze Doctor Beckett's ATA gene."
Oh bloody hell!
"How are you, Jennifer?" Daniel smiled at the young woman in the hospital bed. She returned his smile tiredly.
"I'm better, thanks. They take good care of me here."
Daniel scrutinized Sam's protégé with a skeptical eye. Along with the tendency towards high-risk situations and crazy speeds, Hailey had also adopted Sam's `I'm always fine` attitude. She was battered, thinner and there was something dark in her eyes that hadn't been there before. Still, Daniel mused, that was nothing unusual after escaping captivity after such a long time. Yes, he decided, she would probably be all right again.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Hailey opened her mouth, then closed it again, grimacing, her gaze focused on the ceiling high above them.
"The Wraith are horrible creatures." It was a frightened whisper that escaped her and her whole frame shuddered. Here was a woman who did not back down from Goa'uld, who, for all intent and purposes, was quite fearless, and here she was scared to death. "There was a man in the next cell, you know? His name was Kolya, he was a Genii and the Wraith wanted some kind of information from him. They came each day for him, placed a hand on his chest and proceeded to suck the life force out of him. The first time they did that it wasn't that horrible. There was just some extra grey in his hair. But then," she breathed in horrified fascination as her eyes unfocused, "then they came again and again and more and more lines appeared in his face until he was finally only an empty shell, robbed of his life. Sucked dry."
She faced him and the fear she felt gripped him too.
"And then they opened our cell and I knew why they had come. They had come for Carson."
Daniel did not stay long with her after that. Much later, when Teal'c met him on one of the many balconies of Atlantis and something like peace had descended over the floating city, Daniel voiced what he had been thinking the whole day.
"I'm afraid, Teal'c." It was only in the company of his fellow SG-1 member that he was comfortable disclosing this secret. Admitting this fear was a weakness, but of all the people here, only Teal'c would understand. Being Daniel Jackson, the one who had made travelling to the stars possible, one of the members of the legendary SG-1, was hard. Often, people thought of him as something more than human, immune to the things that affected mere mortals.
"Of what, Daniel Jackson?"
"That this could be something we won't be able to beat. We have finally been able to end the Goa'uld, vanquish the System Lords. I thought, naively perhaps, that it was all over and now this? I visited Jennifer. She was scared stiff of these Wraith! Jennifer Hailey! This is something entirely different from the Goa'uld."
His longtime friend looked at him calmly, before he stated: "I do not agree with you, Daniel Jackson." Seeing his surprised face, Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "When I first helped the Tau'ri against Apophis, turning my back on my god, I did not believe that the Goa'uld could be beat. But you have shown me that with determination and spirit, despite incredible odds, such a thing is possible. I see such a spirit in your Lantean brethren, Daniel Jackson. We will not fail, my friend."
Both men turned their gaze outward, watching as the sun over New Lantean slowly disappeared on the horizon and Daniel felt a new kind of hope spring to life inside him. Maybe Teal'c was right. They had a chance and the will and stubbornness to live.
"So you think it was the Ascended helping us?" Jack asked with some disbelief. It had been two weeks since the day the Earth glowed golden and things had settled down. Both Sheppard and Weir had woken up, reunited with their son. As he looked Elizabeth Weir over, he could only feel relief. She was still pale, had bruises and cuts and darkness in her eyes, but she, at least, was alive and relatively healthy. Her spirit, though, was as strong as it had ever been.
Elizabeth nodded silently and went to stand beside him, her eyes fixed on the planet below.
"During my…coma," she hesitated and confirmed that there had been more to that than she had been comfortable speaking about, "I saw, for a moment, myself and others, converting into energy and joining into the healing stream. You remember the report about finding another version of myself during our first year in Pegasus?"
"You think it was her?" Jack concluded in comprehension.
"Yes. I think …" she paused, "I think they finally acted. I can be very convincing, no matter what version of me. Without their help, I don't think we could have accomplished anything. Is the Plague gone?"
"We think so." He nodded, then sighed heavily. "Still, hundreds of thousands have died. We have been too late for them."
"The planet is still alive, Jack. Billions have been saved." She put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed reassuringly.
"It's not over, yet." And it wasn't. Both of them knew that it was the first shot in the coming war. The Aschen would not give up. Revenge was a notion Jack recognized and knew only too well. There would come a time, when things would heat up. They would be prepared.
"No, it isn't," Elizabeth agreed and turned to go. They had a treaty to sign, traitors to interrogate and disclosure to plan. With one final, mournful look, Jack turned to go, too. He had fought so long and so hard to keep Earth safe and innocent. Now, it seemed, the planet was sucked into the politics and dangers of the Milky Way.
Perhaps it was time, time for the Fifth Race to ascend to their rightful place in the galaxy, to take on the responsibilities and duties that came with it.
Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill smiled and stepped towards a new future.
The End (for now)
Author's Note: Well, that's it for now. Thank you all for reading and reviewing. `Lost City Found` is finished, but that does not mean that the New Lantean Chronicles are done. My first priority will be to finish up `The First Year` (it's a kind of prequel for LCF, if you didn't know already), but I'm already planning the next part of the New Lantean Chronicles. So if you are interested in finding out what happens with the Aschen, the Wraith and the effects of the Ancients' cure on the people of Earth, watch out for the sequel, for it will come!