OC & Team. Angst.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to MGM/Gecko. I own nothing.

Timeline: After "EATG"

Spoilers: None.

Rating: K.

Warnings: Umm...handkerchief alert? Also hints of Sam/Jack and Sparky – if you are allergic to those 'ships stay away.

Summary: What they really fight for.

His name was Darren, and he was eleven years old. None of many doctors that came to examine him and do futile tests gave him much chances to live to his twelfth birthday. After each of such visits fervent hope in his Mum's eyes dimmed and she become sadder and sadder. Darren was good and smart boy – he understood it was not his fault that his own body betrayed him, that he was sick. He knew he was dying, his mom was so sad and pale because of this – and he wanted her to stop worrying and crying. So he endured many boring and sometimes painful treatments without complains and tears. He smiled a lot and pretended to be in good mood always – even when his body spasmed with pain, and he almost wanted death to come faster. Only in the quiet and solitude of the night he allowed his fear to come forth, crying silently with eyes glued to the starry sky.

One day a pair of new doctors came. Nurses and regular, by now well known to him doctors spoke about newcomers with respect and wonder. He was almost afraid of these new people, he feared new painful procedures they will want to try on him. When he finally got to meet them, it was nothing like he expected. Older one - a man, had round warm face, funny voice and kindest blue eyes Darren had ever seen. His female companion was pretty, petite blonde – and she was looking as young as his own big sister Marcy. And best of all – they did nothing uncomfortable or painful. The woman – Doc Jenny she insisted to be called, just sat on his bed, took his small frail hand into her own soft and warm and chatted amiably while her friend examined him with strange and intriguing devices. Darren would very much like to have a better look at them – because they looked really, really like something from "Star Trek". And he always wanted to have his own, real tricorder. Finally Doctor Carson noticed his curiosity and with good-natured chuckle handed him one device that looked like silver Gameboy. But as soon as Doctor's fingers left the machine it blackened and stopped working at all. Darren was so sure he somehow broke it he almost started crying. Only solemn reassurances of both visitors and quick demonstration that device indeed worked only in Doc Beckett's large hands managed to calm him down. "Not many mortals have The Magic Touch" - said Scottish physician in haughty and exaggerated tone, which earned him playful swat from Doc Jenny and burst of giggles from Darren. After their antics ended Doc Beckett left the room to "check the results", and Doc Jenny started to ask many questions about Darren's family, day-to-day life, and finally about all space-related posters, photos and toys that filled walls and every flat surface in his room. Now Darren was on familiar and comfortable ground. Starships, planets, moons and comets – he could talk about them for hours. He showed her his most prized possesion: photo of Space Shuttle Atlantis taking off from Cape Canaveral signed by real astronaut! He was too preocuppied with gathering models of Enterprise and Millenium Falcon to notice her strange smile when she was studying the photo. She was so nice and funny and...and...sweet, that Darren completely forgot about his failing health until sudden weakness overcame him and only fast and surprisingly strong arms of Doctor Keller saved him from falling off the bed. He was deep asleep with strong drugs buzzing in veins when two doctors from Atlantis met to talk about his condition. One look at Carson's sad eyes and darkened face confirmed Jennifer's already strong suspicion that even their literally out of this world knowledge will be not enough to save boy's life. His quiet "Nothing short of sarcophagus can help him now." and "He has less than seven months left." felt like hot bullets digging in her stomach – and didn't she knew how it feels all too well? But Jennifer Keller was strong and brave woman not used to giving up without fight – so she wiped hot tears angrily and demanded through radio to be beamed back to Atlantis right this minute. She was on a mission now. But she needed help. Carson, bless his heart of gold, agreed to aid as soon as he heard her plan. Still they needed more, so as soon as light of the transporter vanished they parted ways to spread the word and gather allies. Beckett found his target on a very special balcony, and had to smile sadly at the tall dark haired Colonel gazing longingly into night sky. His part of the mission seemed almost too easy for he didn't have to talk much. Man that used to tell scary stories to Athosian children, and was left heartbroken when he learned about true horrors they had to endure every given day was all too eager to lend helping hand in their quest. Jennifer's part took more time – but Rodney McKay for all his brashness and self- centered ways still had heart in right place and loved her too much to deny her anything. All four together, and with much more caution friends approached current leader of the Atlantis. They needn't worry – maybe couple of years ago younger, more arrogant Richard Woolsey would've find their request outlandish and denied it without much thinking. But his time on Atlantis taught IOA representative a lot, and spirit of great City and warm souls everywhere around managed to break his shell, allowing good and honourable man to finally act as he believed was right. Samantha Carter was next person Jennifer decided to recruit into her personal crusade. Famous commander of Earth's newest starship stood for a long time without a word after hearing younger woman's plea. Her mind went years back and thousands of miles away – to dark, damp bunker where she hugged dying girl refusing to leave her alone even if it meant her own death. Oh yes - Sam Carter knew everything about love, self-sacrifice, stubborn hope and not giving up...ever. With her consent conspirators needed only one more, and most important "Yes." - and it was obvious to everyone that only Sam would be right person to plead their case. After hearing her passionate speech silver haired General has been silent even longer than she did – and his mind went further back than hers too, to the days when he could hear his long lost son's joyful laughter. His first impulse was to help no matter what – but burden of responsibility on Jack O'Neill's shoulders was heavy, and he had to ask. "What if he starts talking about what he saw, Carter?" - he said quietly. She came around the desk to the window – where he stood staring blindly at the landscape of Washington, and gently wrapped arms around his waist. "He's eleven years old boy that loves science fiction" - she replied softly. "He has more astronomic photos on his walls than you. And got more gadgets and collectibles from "Star Trek", "Star Wars" and even, Heaven help us "Wormhole Extreme" than Teal'c managed to scrounge." "Even if he tells everyone around about Atlantis, my ship and everything else – who will believe him?" "Who indeed?" - there was smile again on Jack's face when he lifted one of her hands to kiss it. "All right, Colonel. You have a go." He was rewarded with breathtaking smile and enthusiastic "Yes, Sir!", and a hug and kiss later Sam vanished leaving him still sad, but somehow feeling much better.

"Darren? Wake up, kiddo." - Sick boy stirred and blinked owlishly at the smiling faces of two nicest Doctors he knew and a newcomer – tall, uniformed man with messy hair. Doc Jenny like before sat on the edge of his bed and took his left hand. " Darren, this is Colonel John Sheppard of United States Air Force. Our good friend and a real space pilot." Darren gaped. It was almost best dream he ever had – he thought. Moment later he reached to shake pilot's outstretched hand, his IV pinched and Darren finally believed that he was not dreaming at all. "Are you really an astronaut?"- he blurted forgetting completely to release man's hand. Officer grinned broadly bending to carefully sit on his bed too. "You bet i am. Cant show you my spacesuit thought – had to leave it in my locker." Darren grinned back, thinking happily that he really had best doctors in the world. "We have a big surprise for ye, lad" - Doc Beckett joined their little circle with affecionate smile on round face. Darren was very puzzled now – could there be a bigger surprise than waking up to met a man that was in space? "You see son." - Colonel Sheppard said solemnly. "Couple of days ago our good doctors told me, and my commanders about smart and brave boy that knows a lot about space. With new spacecrafts being build we need many recruits with such qualities – and we simply have to offer you a place in one of future crews. So i need to ask – do you want to become space cadet?" Silent tears started streaming down boy's pale cheeks and with shuddering breath Darren withdrew his hands and curled into small ball of misery. "I cant." - his words were barely audible. "I want to be an astronaut, to fly in space, be on the Moon. But im sick, dont you see? I cant run, i cant swim – sometimes i cant even sit. Im going to die soon." "Maybe." - grip of Colonel's hand on his thin shoulder was gentle but firm. "But maybe not. We all have seen many strange and impossible things happening. As long as you are fighting there is a hope. A chance. Thats why we are here, kid. To show you how world really looks, and what is waiting for you. And believe me, its a lot more than you can see on TV." Darren looked up – into serious face and smiling eyes. No, he decided – it was not a joke or lie to make him feel better. "What...what i need to do, sir?" Sheppard's face brightened immediately. "Thats the spirit, cadet. Now put these on and we are going on a trip." Doc Jenny already brought his clothes, and together with Carson helped him into sweatpants, oversized hoodie, sneakers and warm jacket. "Where are we going?" - Darren asked curiously, because none of his visitors made a motion towards the doors. Three adults smiled impishly back at him. "Up up and away, laddie." - chuckled Dr. Beckett. "Head's up scamp. You're gonna love it." - said Colonel, and when boy's attention focused on him tapped twice his ear. Something chirped and with a wink John said - "Sheppard to Hammond. Beam us up Lieutenant."

"Hi Mom!" - Darren called cheerfuly to his mother when she entered his room in the morning. "Hey sweetie." She greeted his son silently blessing those two doctors that so suddenly and completely took over her son's treatment. Darren was not getting better – Keller and Beckett didn't lie to her from the beginning. Their mysterious therapy could only ease his pain and maybe, with luck buy him a bit more time with family – but her little angel was happier than ever now. "Whatcha doing Shortstuff?" - asked Marcy after she and Darren finished their daily ritual of hugs and only half-feinted attempts at tickling each other. Her little brother beamed and proudly presented his newest project. His mother and sister silently looked at sheet of paper covered with odd shapes and many, many colours. "Umm, thats very pretty sweetie. But what is it?" Darren huffed impatiently and grabbed a crayon to add more blue where ocean should be. "Its Atlantis Mom." Marcy blinked. "Atlantis? That underground city from the cartoon?" That earned her best crushing look a scrawny boy could muster. "No dummy! Real Atlantis – flying city from another galaxy." "Oh." His mother forced a smile and sat next to her boy. "And what's this?" She motioned at a drawing of grey...something surrounded by stars and not quite circular planets – each in different colour. "Thats Hammond Mommy." - answered Darren touching his masterpiece almost reverently. "Let me guess, its a rocket." - snorted Marcy. Glare was back in full strenght. "Not rocket. Its a S T A R S H I P! She has fighters, and lasers, and missiles and is fastest in two galaxies! And Colonel Sam is best in the universe – she blew up a star to destroy alien fleet that wanted to attack Earth." "Oh"- tired woman vainly searched memory trying to remember which TV show was her son's current favourite. Marcy shrugged in a "i got nothing" way. "Sounds impressive" "They are awesome Mom!" Exclaimed Darren bouncing on his bed with glee, blue eyes shining. "Crews of Atlantis and Hammond and other ships are best heroes in the world. They fight evil aliens and space pirates, monsters and robots everyday." "Well shrimp. Its good to know we are safe." Marcy turned away from the bed nonchalantly and walked to the window pretending to be very interested in weather outside, but her mother saw rapid blinking and tenseness in the back of her teenage daughter. Her own heart felt like it was encircled by tight metal band. "We are." Darren nodded seriously, with eyes still glued to his drawing – oblivious to his family sudded sadness. "They will defend us always, and never give up." - thin fingers busily sketched something that looked like piece of slanted pipe. "One day, if i get really good grades in school they will let me stay in Atlantis. I'll be a soldier, or pilot like Colonel John – and i will defend Earth too." There was shuddering inhale and chocked sob coming from the window, and mother of the two had to clamp her eyelids tightly to stop tears from dripping on the head that chemiotherapy and radiation months ago robbed of fiery curls. "I know you will, sweetie. You will." - she whispered softly kissing her son's head. "You will be greatest hero of them all."

Somewhere in the vastness of universe great city older than human race itself is gleaming in the rays of local sun. People living in her tall spires work, love, explore and sometimes argue over matters big and small. But they always stand together when there is a danger, and they never give up. Sometimes there are losses – lives lost, friends gone forever. There is a room in the main tower of Atlantis. Almost nondescript one – not very big, without any furniture. Only its walls are used, covered by many, many photos and plaques with names like Sumner, Grodin, Dumaine, Gall, Griffin, Leonard, Vega...There is none with the name Beckett – for no one wants to hurt feelings of kind man that everyone accepted as their friend miraculously returned. There is also no photo of Dr. Weir – because one man still believes...and his friends love him too much to crush his hope. Among portraits of those who fought and died for Atlantis hangs one more reminder – a drawing made by a child, forever encased in near-indestructible Ancient plastic. There is a landscape with many tall towers, flying Jumper, round and very yellow sun, a lot of blue sky and sea. There are people too – stick figures with big bulbous heads, distinguished almost solely by hair: long or short, fair or dark, spiky or dreadlocked. But they are standing together with hands joined and big smiles. One standing in the very center of the group is much shorter than others, and its head is devoid of hair – but its smile is biggest.

The End.