He screamed as the wraith forced its feeding hand to his chest, the pain like black ice coursing through his veins as the life was sucked out of him, leaving him a mere shell. The wraith leered and threw its head back in ecstasy, a guttural sound coming from its throat as it savoured the experience and grew stronger from it. John fell to his knees, unable to remain upright and the wraith followed him down, never losing the contact with his skin.

" We had a deal" John croaked, his voice growing weaker by the second.

" You had a deal, I honour no deal with prey" The wraith leered, casting his head back as he sucked the last precious drops of life from his victim. The desiccated corpse was tossed aside like a rag doll as it finished, uncaring about the pain and suffering it had just caused. It turned and headed towards its next victim who was frozen in position, unable to move with the shock of what had just happened...Elizabeth.

The sound of his own scream woke John from the restless slumber he'd been trying to coax his body into since flopping into bed about 6 hours earlier. He'd been plagued with nightmares from the instant he'd closed his eyes, visions of wraith betrayal, Kolya continuing with the torture whilst forcing Elizabeth to watch, each scenario his subconscious dreamed up more disturbing and savage than the previous. Eventually he gave up, tugging on his boots, a part of BDU's and a long sleeved shirt and heading out of his quarters. There was no way he was gonna get sleep tonight so he might as well make himself useful.

The wandered up to the control room, finding nightshift playing cards as they passed through graveyard shift in quiet friendly competition. He didn't blame them for passing the time that way, it sure beat running the endless diagnostics that Rodney seemed to always delegate the night shift to do. Thankfully Elizabeth had put her foot down recently and stopped the majority of it, allowing the night shift guys to man their stations and be on alert, whilst not doing the dirty work of other departments.

Rather than interrupt their friendly game he headed for the balcony, as if seeking the quiet serenity the space often provided. The doors glided open for him and closed again as he passed, the hissing audible to the entire control room in the dead of the early morning. They glanced towards him in concern then returned to their game as he vanished from view. It was obvious from his troubled expression that his recent near death experience was playing on his mind. Problem was the only person he ever seemed to talk to was Dr Weir.

The cool breeze ruffled his hair as he stepped towards the railing of the balcony, taking in the eerie glow the dimmed lights of the city cast over the blackness of the ocean at night. In the darkness he didn't see the shadowy figure secluded against the far corner of the balcony, also seeking a quiet serenity.

Dr Elizabeth Weir hadn't even bothered going to bed that night, knowing the echoes of today's events would follow her even into slumber. She knew the warning sighs from previous experience and decided not to even attempt sleep, waiting to tire her body and mind to the point that when she dropped, she'd be so tired that she could escape the haunting nightmares.

Still her mind taunted her with 'what-ifs' and alternative outcomes as she rested against the corner railing in the darkness, working through the improbable scenarios that always ended with the death of the one man she was trying to save. She still hated herself for her decision to not trade with Kolya, but deep down she knew that it was the right one to make. She couldn't trade an ally for one of her own men, even if that man was John.

She shuddered, partially against the cool breeze and partially due to the tricks her sleep deprived mind was playing on her. The last one she had imagined was John being fed on right in front of her, and her own inability to act had cost him his life. She sucked in a deep breath and forced her mind back to the calming ebb and flow of the waves lapping the east pier of her city. The lights along the pier illuminated the white caps of the waves and spray as they crashed against the solid bulk of the city.

John turned as he heard the sound of a shuddering breath being sucked between clenched teeth, picking up a dark figure almost completely obscured by the blackness surrounding her. He could tell instantly who it was by the hitch of her breath and her resigned posture. He carefully moved closer, not wanting to startle her since she was obviously dealing with some emotional angst no doubt brought on by Kolya. Carson had mentioned what they'd been forced to watch whilst the good doctor had examined him before releasing him back to his quarters for rest. He'd told of how Elizabeth had held them all together, unwilling to show weakness by reacting to the viewscreen. They all knew she would crash and burn later, and it looked that's what she was doing now.

" Hey" He said quietly, touching her gently on the arm to make her aware of his presence. She barely acknowledges it, instead swiping at a stray tear that she had been unable to contain. He pulled her forward, reaching strong arms around her trembling frame as she fought to control her raging emotions, loosing the battle at his concerned touch. He held her without a word till the sobs eased, a slim measure of control returning as his arms embraced her. She felt safe, protected in his arms and the thought of losing such a feeling nearly sent her over the edge again.

" I thought I'd lost you.. for good" She whispered, her words slightly muffed by the fabric of his tear stained shirt.

" I thought I'd lost me for good too " He replied, his quirky sense of humour trying to cheer her up, he gently prized her away from his chest and lifted her chin with a finger. She didn't meet his eyes, her downcast gaze reflecting her fragile emotions. Unable to watch her inner torture he allowed her to drop her head again, leaning forward to press his lips to her forehead. The contact made her look up at him, confusion in her eyes.

" That got your attention didn't it" He smirked, one of his hands finding its way into her hair. He toyed with the curls, intertwining his fingers in the delicate ringlets.

" No more talk of not coming back.. okay?" He said softly, watching her eyes drift closed as he played with her hair.

She nodded, still not trusting her voice, partially because his touch was causing a reaction of a different kind. She quivered again, savouring the feel of his hands in her hair.

John couldn't help but smile at her reaction. There was something about a near death experience that brought one to appreciate the little things in life, and it seemed that in the last few weeks they'd both had nearly died through two completely different circumstances. Her demeanour had changed subtly since the nanites had overtaken her body. She was quicker to smile, hard to get off side, but even more fiercely protective of her team, if such things were possible.

Throwing caution to the wind he reach down again, capturing her lips in the lightest of kisses. He hesitated a moment to catch her reaction, and was surprised when she reached up to cup the side of his face in her hands, pulling him down to her.

" I've had enough of death, let's live for a while" She whispered before kissing him with such passion he swore he saw stars.

" Well that settles that then" John remarked, getting his breath back again.

" Settles what?" Elizabeth asked, her eyes dark with passion.

" The betting pool...I so won" John smirked, kissing her quickly again.

" There was a betting pool on our first kiss?" Elizabeth retorted, not knowing wether to be amused or angry. She settled for a little of both.

" Yep... McKay started it... the date he picked was sometime next month" John quipped, resisting the urge to do a little happy dance.

" Oh yea of little faith" Elizabeth smiled, kissing him to prove her point. She rested her ear against his pounding chest, drinking in the sound of the heart she had made race.

Yes.. sometimes there were things worth living for.