The fairy tale always says time passed , and after I was satisfied the way Rodney was recovering from his brain surgery in the Atlantis Infirmary, I went to my room and changed into workout clothes.
I still can't understand how we came so close to losing him, why we didn't notice it before. I began to run, higher and faster. I needed to work off the stress, the frustration, the anger and helplessness I d felt for too long.
I ran for over two hours and finished my workout in the training room. There I took some banto sticks and began to train alone against the dummy boy, standing in the room.
I wanted to scream, scream at the top of my lungs, how unfair every moment in life can be. This expedition has suffered too much. We never should have come, we never should have go to Athos, never should have helped the people. I hit harder.
I should never have killed the queen that night; the Wraiths would still be asleep. People would still be alive and
I hit harder again, breaking the stick in two. I twirled the other one in my hand, judging its weight with the movement. I turned around and moved like Teyla taught me - with slow movements - like the dummy man was an enemy.
I didn't hear the door open, but I knew I wasn't alone anymore because the moment I lashed out with my stick on the dummy man, another stick stopped me. I looked up, and saw Ronon at the end of it.
He looked at me and frowned, "How long?"
"Not long enough," I replied.
"I can see that," he replied with a smile. He pushed against my stick and we moved to the center of the room. He handed me one of his sticks. I took it and began to spar with him.
We didn't say a word. We began to circle around each other; he feinted, attacked from the left, the right, made me walk backwards. I was able to block most of his attack. We continued to spar in silence until I heard him say.
"I was holding a girl in my arms; she was standing in the front of the windows, looking at me. She didn't see it coming, but I did. It was a ball of fire, it didn t take long. The explosion reached me and knocked me out. When I regained consciousness, I was in the middle of wraith."
I stopped my movement and looked at him.
"I escaped them," he added with a smile. With a shrug he finished, "Not for long, because after that I was on the hive and later I was a runner."
I nodded, knowing all this, "What's the point of this?"
"To make you talk?" he added while smashing his stick against mine. I blocked him, and answered, "I don't want to talk."
"You are sulking, Sheppard."
"You are, so tell me something. Like I just did with you," Ronon replied with a grunt as I pushed him back.
I stopped my movement and threw the sticks on the floor. Ronon anticipated my movement and moved to the door, blocking my escape.
"Not running away, Sheppard," he said, crossing his arms and standing in the middle of the door.
"That's an order," I said tensely.
"You cannot order me on this one, Sheppard," Ronon stated with a shrug. "You can always try to make me."
I turned around, frustrated; I walked to the far end of the room, grabbed my sticks and continued to hit the dummy. I turned around. Ronon was still in the same place. I began to pace, looking up to see Ronon still hadn t moved. Twice I turned around and moved up to him, only to turn around at the last moment.
"Sheppard, you should talk," Ronon said evenly.
"I don't want to talk; I just want you to move from this doorway so I can go out and finish my training session."
"I think you are finished."
"That's not up to you to judge if I'm finished or not, so move!" I looked up and if I thought Ronon was tall, he was even taller now. "That's a direct order, so move out of my way, RONON!"
"Make me," was his sole reply.
I narrowed my eyes, but I controlled my anger and instead, moved to the punching bag hanging there and began to punch it. After a moment Ronon came and helped me by holding the bag.
I was panting, trying to keep up a steady rhythm. Even with Ronon holding the bag, I couldn't let go completely.
He didn't say anything else, just held onto the punching bag while I pounded it.
Eventually I had to stop to catch my breath again. I dropped to my knees. He crouched on the other side.
"I saw her in the jumper," I whispered and saw him frown. "I know it's not possible but I saw her, she told me to pull the trigger, and " I had to stop, close my eyes, and inhale deeply to keep the tears at bay, "I did."
I was looking at my hands; they were red from the workout session and the endless punches I gave the bag.
I closed my eyes for a second and assessed the situation. I never felt so alone in my life, not even when my father ignored me.
I stood up, walked to the bench where I had my sports bag to retrieve a towel and ended up punching the wall with my right hand
"Sheppard, stop!" I heard behind me, my mind not able to register the command. I was on my way to launch the next punch when arms pulled me back and stopped me.
"Stop it, Sheppard. Look at your hand."
Ronon. He hadn't left the gym, he was still there. I looked at my hand, and noticed the blood. I tried to move my hand, but it hurt like hell, and I groaned with the pain.
"You broke the bones, don t move." I saw him reach out and take the towel from my bag. He gently turned me around and pushed me on the bench. He crouched in front of me, and wrapped the towel around my hand, making sure not to jar it too much.
I took a deep breath, "I'm not good at that, but I'm I m sorry. I never I never should have taken it out on you. I'm responsible for all this mess."
He looked at me, frowning. I laughed without humor, "Rodney told me to talk, Teyla too and you, but you can't help me." I scratched my ear with my left hand, "I never should have asked her. I never should have approved the mission, I "
Ronon looked at me, eyes sad, "Don't "
I nodded, and whispered back, "No, I should have been a better CO then, and made sure she was safe, and tell her well," I shrugged, "She would still be there, alive she would, we "
"John, what's done is done..." I heard Ronon reply gently.
"I know. And that s why it s killing me," I murmured back. I stood up, putting the injured hand against my chest.
"It s killing me from the inside, Ronon, and each time I close my eyes she's there."
I didn't hear the rest of it, as I moved out the gym and went to the infirmary.
Since Heightmeyer died, I hadn t been to the new psycho whatever they name it, so once my hand was taken care of, I followed Carson into his office.
"I... listen doc, I'm not really... I need to sleep, and I can't and I need to be effective. And I m not, I have... You see, lately I don't really care if I get shot or not. Do you think you can give me some pills to cure that?"
Carson was looking at me, concern, pain, and compassion written all over his face, "Let me see what I can do."
I nodded and watched him retrieving the pills. "Okay, here you go, one of these evenings, and one of these three times a day."
I looked at the bottles and had to smirk, "Yep, understood."
I turned around, he didn't want to keep me at the infirmary because he knew I wouldn't be at ease there, and he d given me everything I needed.
I walked back to my quarters and once in my room, I put the bottle on the desk and walked into the bathroom. With difficulty I was able to get out of my clothes and under the shower, making sure to protect my hand.
Beckett had cleaned the cuts and the wounds then had put a cast around it made of this new resin material. The cast was light and tight, but at least I could move with it.
After the shower I tried to get into some conventional clothes. After some struggling I was finally clothed. I looked over at the desk. The pills were near the pot in front of a picture of Aidan Ford and I in his garden - we were playing football. His grandma made the picture.
I sighed and grabbed the pill bottle. One at night. Think again, doc. I haven't slept for more nights than you can imagine.
I pulled out three pills, and put them on the desk. This was the easiest solution. Was it a solution or just an escape?
John sat on the floor for a long time; so long he didn't even see the sun come up. He didn't react when he was called over his com or over the tannoy in his room. He didn't react either at the scraping and banging at his door.
His hold on the lock began to loosen; he couldn't block the door any longer, not after the last few days and his lack of sleep. He looked over the earthenware pot and felt his eyes well up with tears.
He scrubbed his hands over his head and rubbed his finger over his tired eyes. On the other side of the door he heard Ronon, "Sheppard, it's me, let me in."
John shook his head, like Ronon could see it from the other side of the door. He lifted his head and tried to concentrate on the door and the lock. But he knew he failed when the door gave and Ronon came in, closing it behind him, and locking it to be sure no one would follow him. John looked up, trying to hide the tears on his face, wiping them with his hands, but failing miserably as more tears were shed with each passing second.
Ronon walked to the desk and looked at the pills; he didn't say anything and put down the tray he was carrying. John could see sandwiches and a pot of coffee.
"I thought you might need this," Ronon said, while pouring some coffee into a cup and handing it to John who grabbed the mug with shaky hands.
Ronon took the other one and sat near John. He didn't say anything, just sat there and waited. John sipped his coffee between silent sobs.
Ronon looked out the windows, it was near noon, "Woolsey gave us the day off, and he also said we don t have to go on off world mission if we don t want to.
John nodded. Everyone knew Woolsey wasn't usually that kind; someone must have said something to him, and John suspected it was Teyla.
Ronon shifted and rubbed his hand over his face then looked at his hands, "You told me she talked to you in the jumper."
John's breath hitched. Ronon looked over at him and waited. John took a deep breath, and looked at Ronon, "She said we did good, she said she sacrificed herself to protect us, she I never should have left her, I never "
Ronon looked out the window again, and cleared his throat uncomfortably, "You remember when we were trapped in quarantine the first time on this planet?"
John frowned and nodded, "I was trapped with Teyla, and she was still pregnant."
"I was trapped in the infirmary with Keller." He laughed, "I am sure she did not know then she would go for Rodney," he looked at John and saw him smile. "She reminded me a lot of someone I left on Sateda." He sighed deeply, "She was not my wife, but she was the one I loved more than my life. I traded everything we had to put her on a ship when the wraiths attacked," he stopped and looked over at John, seeing him listening intently. "She was a healer, huh, a doctor just like Keller is. They are a lot alike. Like her, Melena, that is her name, put way too much pressure on herself."
John smiled a little, "It's a beautiful name."
"Yeah, it was," Ronon shifted, "I wanted her to leave but she chose to stay behind and help the others. Should have forced her to go." He looked over at John and saw him shake his head, "When I told Keller during the quarantine she told me it wasn't my fault, that she chose to stay and that I shouldn't put the blame on myself." He saw John nod and continued, "Elizabeth chose to stay, without her everyone on Atlantis would be dead now. I will use Keller's words; it's not your fault. She ichose/i to stay. Don't put the blame on yourself."
John was still shaking his head, Ronon shifted uncomfortably and looked at John again, "She decided to save us, she decided to stay behind, and she decided again to protect us after the problem with Koracen. Even if you had given your life, you wouldn't have made her change her mind."
"I should never have agreed to this plan " began John, only to be cut off by Ronon.
"You didn t. You made it clear. You stated your plan like everyone else, but your thing..."
"Yes, those ones. They agreed with none of our plans, and agreed only with the one suggested by Elizabeth, remember?"
"Yeah, I should never have agreed to let her stay in the room," muttered John.
"Never saw you win against her," answered Ronon.
"You're right," muttered John. He shifted on the floor, leaning his head against the wall behind him, took a deep breath and looked at the earthenware pot on his desk.
"You told me to tell you when I'm ready to " He looked over at Ronon who nodded, "Well, I am."
"Okay." Ronon stood up and held his hand out for John. He reached in his pocket for his com and put it on. "Ronon for Major Lorne?"
John frowned, and listened to Ronon's side of the conversation, "Ten minutes and we are with you. Okay."
John gestured to Ronon and his headset, "What was that?"
Ronon shifted from one foot to the other as John lifted his eyebrow, "Well, huh, we are all on stand-by at the city until you are well enough again to go off world." John nodded and Ronon continued, "I asked Major Lorne to stay on stand-by in case I could talk to you, and you would be ready to do," he gestured around, and finished, "something "
John nodded, and followed Ronon as he walked to the door, "What do you have planned for me?"
Ronon shrugged and stated, "For the moment you have to follow me." Ronon moved to the door and when they stepped out they found, Rodney, Teyla, Carson and Kanaan with Torren, waiting for them.
"We're ready to go?" asked Rodney.
Ronon nodded and moved ahead of them. John followed him closely, "Do they all have to go with us?"
Ronon walked through the city, John and the others trailing behind him. They walked to the southern pier, the one that wasn't currently inhabited. Suddenly John turned around and looked behind him and was surprised to see most of the city following them. He hadn't noticed Teyla had recovered the earthenware pot from his desk; neither had he noticed Rodney was holding Tyre's sword or that Carson was holding a bundle of fabric.
They reached the southern pier where Major Lorne was waiting in front of a closed door.
Lorne looked over at Ronon, "Everything is ready."
John looked at Lorne with a frown on his face, "Is that a matter of martial court?"
"I don t think so, sir," answered Lorne with a small smile. John nodded, stepped in front of the door, and ordered it to open.
He wasn't prepared for what was on the other side of the door; it was a memorial wall in front of the sea with plants and small trees.
The memorial was written in two parts, one part written in ancient and the other part written in English. At the bottom were flags and symbols to identify the countries and planets of the dead.
John s breath hitched as he struggled to keep his tears at bay.
Teyla moved from behind him and handed him the pot before moving in front of the memorial.
John only noticed the display on the memorial; it symbolized a ring, the Stargate.
Teyla looked at the people in front of her; she took a deep breath and began.
"I am Teyla Emmagan, daughter of Tagan, and I ve lived with you for over five years. During those five years I ve had the privilege to be a part of many victories, but I also have seen many friends fall under fire from the enemy." She stopped and looked at John, Rodney and Carson, and continued. "An enemy that was not theirs to begin with, but you," and she gestured to the people of Atlantis. "You sacrificed almost everything to protect people and a nation. You risked your life when no one asked you to "
She took a deep breath, "Each of us deals with the loss of people we love in a different manner." She looked at the people in front of her, some nodded, some were silent, and John was too shocked to do or say anything. "After five years among your people, I learned how important some things are for you. One of them is we don't leave our people behind, and the second is if something happens we don't leave our dead behind."
She looked at Woolsey as he moved in front of everyone, "You know how important it is to be able to bury our dead, and to be able to go to their grave. We know we can't go back to Earth to just do that so Teyla and Ronon asked me to make a memorial and I approved it."
He gestured to the wall behind him, "This is a place for peace, a place to pray, to talk to the lost ones." He stopped and looked at the Colonel, "The ones we cared about or the ones we loved." He finished.
He nodded and moved to the side; Ronon stepped in front of everyone. He looked at the crowd and finally focused his attention on John. That's when John noticed he was holding Tyre's sword. He turned around, walked to the memorial, found where Tyre's name was engraved and hung the sword on the hook near it. "We travelled a long road together," he stopped and looked over his shoulder at Sheppard before looking at the memorial again. "Be in peace, old friend. Be in peace." He rubbed his fingers over the name engraved in the stone and finally, after taking a last shaking breath, moved over to stand next to John.
They watched as people slowly put things on the hook or vase near the name of a lost one. After a while they were the only ones left, even Rodney and Teyla had left.
Ronon moved again to the wall. John noticed the little bundle Carson carried before. Ronon knelt in front of the memorial and hooked the fabric over Melena's name; that's when John noticed it was a shawl.
Ronon didn't say a word. Finally he kissed his fingers then placed them over Melena's name, "Goodbye." Then he walked back to John.
John was still holding the earthenware pot, and was rubbing his hand over the top of it as if to protect it.
He finally moved and walked to the memorial. Elizabeth Weir's name was engraved in the middle of the memorial at the bottom over a little shelf. There was a hook on one side and a vase on the other. Teyla had already put flowers in the vase and Rodney had hung her necklace on the hook. John didn't even know how this one hadn't been sent back to Earth.
He knelt in front of the memorial and with great care put the earthenware pot down, making sure it was stable and secure on the shelf. He stifled a sob and passed his thumb over her name, "We should we should never have held ourselves back from the love we felt for each other. We " He stopped and folded himself in two as sobs began to wrack his body.
Ronon, who was still nearby, moved and knelt beside him, squeezing John's shoulder in silent support. John, still on the floor, dealing with his pain grabbed Ronon's hand and squeezed it back. Ronon stayed still for a long moment as John's sobs lasted a long time. He cried for Colonel Sumner, his men, Aiden Ford, Carson, even if they got him back, Elizabeth and all the missed opportunities they would never have. He sobbed about all the dreams which would never come true.
The sobs lessened and now he was crying silently. Over the last hour Ronon had moved to lean on the bench that was there, and John had moved with him, not able to cut the connection he had with Ronon whose hand he was still holding.
When Ronon moved, John changed position too. Ronon didn't say anything when he grabbed the front of his shirt and twisted his hand in it, leaning heavily against his shoulder.
Ronon waited until he felt John release his hold on his shirt and his breath evened out. He then reached into his holster, grabbed the syringe filled with enough muscle relaxant to knock him out and pushed it into John's upper arm. It didn't take long for the sedative to act. Ronon lifted John up and transported him out into the hall where Carson was waiting with a stretcher.
The moment the door opened, Carson pushed the stretcher toward Ronon who lowered John on it. Carson nodded his thanks and began a quick check of his vital signs. After a few minutes he nodded again and gave Ronon the OK to go.
Slowly they began to push the stretcher toward John s quarters. As they walked, Carson and Ronon spoke about what happened and Ronon confirmed what they talked about earlier in the day; he would keep vigil in John's room.
As they arrived in front of John s room, they retrieved Teyla and Rodney who were walking back from the mess with some trays of food. They followed them to John's quarters; Ronon pushed the stretcher to the bed, then with great care, lifted John from it and put him on the bed. Carson checked him once more and made sure he was comfortable before leaving the three friends together.
Rodney and Teyla had put the trays on the desk. After checking on John and Ronon they finally left the room too. As the stepped out, Rodney stopped at the door, turned around and looked over at John s sleeping form, "If you need anything "
"I will call "
"I still don't " Rodney stopped what he was saying and looked at Ronon, "I'll leave my headset on; I'll probably be in the lab, working."
The door closed in the hall. Teyla stopped Rodney, "You are a great friend, Rodney, don't forget that."
Rodney nodded and smiled but the smile never reached his eyes, "I feel "
"Left out?" mused Teyla. Rodney nodded and Teyla smiled. "Well, you shouldn't."
"I should be in there with him, but I know I wouldn't be any help at all because I suck at this emotion thing. I don't think Ronon is better than I am, but for some reason I know he's better than me in there to help him."
Teyla nodded and smiled at Rodney, "They both share a past, Rodney, and they both lost a loved one."
Rodney nodded and finally moved to his own quarters.
Ronon settled on the sofa, grabbed John's computer, reached into his pocket and pulled out Rodney's note.
Carefully he opened the computer, launched it, counted to fifty and then opened the CD player. He pulled out the CD Rodney had given him. Then he launched the right program, and set the computer back in its place.
Finally he grabbed the book he was currently reading and settled on the sofa.
John twitched in his sleep, Ronon lifted his head and checked on him, the cover had slipped from his shoulders; he pulled it up and resumed his reading.
Carson told him he should be sleeping for at least five hours, more or less. Ronon hoped he would sleep more than that, because the last few weeks had put a strain on John.
Not only had the man lost weight but he now had a constant frown on his face. He often was up late, training in the shooting room. Even if Ronon felt safe in the city, he couldn't help but stay awake some nights, wandering the halls. He often stopped at Rodney's lab to watch him work and sometimes he ended up in the shooting range, watching over John's training. He almost never failed lately. He could empty a whole 9mm without making two shooting holes in the paper target.
He often stayed until John left. He never knew if John knew he was hovering over him or not and right now, he didn't care.
He just knew they had one thing in common, one painful thing. He accepted the loss and her death long ago but he never got the chance to say goodbye.
He was thankful to everyone on Atlantis for giving him this opportunity, and he was even more thankful to them for allowing a memorial in the wall of the city. During all those years he learned that those traditions were important for them, so he battled over the last few weeks with Woolsey to get this done. Once some people knew he was trying to make something for all of them they supported his initiative.
And Woolsey hadn't much of a choice, so he gave in.
He awoke from his sleep when he heard the door slide shut. Immediately alert, he looked at the bed, and saw John was missing. He stood up, ran to the door, waited for it to open, and then stopped to see where John has headed.
He listened and heard footsteps; he began to follow them, and without a doubt, he was following John.
After a few moments he knew where he was heading, and slowed his pace.
He didn't fail in his guessing; John was heading for the southern pier to the memorial. He finally reached the door, it wasn't closed. He stopped at the doorstep - John was kneeling in front of the memorial, eyes closed,
Ronon didn't move. After a few moments, he saw John pull out something from his pocket, open the earthenware pot and put it in.
Then John stood up and looked over at Ronon. He looked back to the memorial, and whispered, "Goodbye, 'Lizabeth."
Ronon didn't say anything, and as John stepped out, he fell back in step with him. After a few moments, Ronon looked over at him.
"You all right?"
John shrugged, and shook his head, "No." He fell silent, stopped walking and looked at Ronon, "No, but now I think I will be." He looked around him and extended his hand to Ronon to shake hands with him and finally pull him in a hug, "Thank you."
Ronon nodded and they walked together to John's quarters.
That evening, Ronon was sitting in his room, doing Teyla's breathing exercises when he felt a gust of fresh air stream in his room. He frowned; he was pretty certain all his windows were closed. He was about to open his eyes when he heard, "Thank you, Ronon. Thanks for everything."
He opened his eyes and looked around him, he was alone. Windows closed, door closed. He shook his head and closed his eyes again when he heard it a second time, "Thank you, Ronon. Thanks for everything."
He didn't bother to open his eyes and just whispered, "You're welcome, Elizabeth. You are very welcome. May you now be in peace."
On the other side of the city, Woolsey, alone in his office was reading over some mission report when he heard distinctly, "Thank you for everything, Richard." He looked up from his reading and frowned in confusion when he noticed he was still alone in the room.
He shook his head and began to read again when a whoosh of air passed and he heard it again.
He was about to call Chuck, but didn't and with a small smile whispered, "You're welcome."
In his room, John was sitting at his desk, computer open, looking through some pictures. He stopped; he d just found the perfect one. It was a picture taken a few years back, just after Elizabeth was pulled back from the nanites-induced coma.
They were together on the balcony. Chuck who had a new camera had taken the shot. They were joking together, a cup of coffee in their hands; he was reaching up to push a rebel lock of hair from her face. Chuck snapped at that moment, a rare moment where they hadn't hidden their sentiments behind their work mask. They were happy at that one moment, really happy.
The picture was never displayed, thanks to Chuck, and now John was looking at it.
He pulled out the special paper he asked for some time ago to print pictures, set the printer and after a few more adjustments on the picture, pushed the print button.
He took the frame he had retrieved from Elizabeth's things and put the picture in it.
He placed it on the shelf just above the desk, so he could see the picture from everywhere in the room and especially from the bed.
He sighed deeply and finally smiled. This was the right place. He stood up, brushed his fingers over it and left the room. The moment he was about to close the door, he heard her, "Thanks."
He closed his eyes, knowing he was alone, but knowing also it was her. He nodded once, and whispered, "You're welcome." Then he left the room, the door closing slowly behind him.
He walked to the southern pier. When he arrived at the memorial and the door opened, he was relieved to see he was alone.
He walked to the wall, knelt and pulled a small picture from his pocket; it was Elizabeth and Sedge, playing together.
He put the photo between the lid and the pot, and with a nod and a smile left the area and headed back to his quarters.
As he reached his room again, he closed his eyes and listened to the city. She was humming and vibrating like she did the first time he set foot on her. Her vibrations over the last few months were sad, like she was on Diapasan to cope with John's depression. He opened his eyes, opened his door and walked back to the shelf where he had put the picture earlier. He looked at it again, and finally smiled. He reached for the frame, made a motion to caress her face and whispered, "May you have found peace."
He inhaled deeply, moved to the bed, grabbed his book and began to read. He was at peace for the first time in months.
Rodney looked up from his computer, something had changed. He couldn't define what, but something had changed. He closed his eyes and listened. Suddenly he smiled. The city the city was humming her song, she was happy again.
She was at peace. For the first time in months, the city was at peace. He looked at the entrance of his lab. As he expected, Ronon was standing there.
"Thanks," whispered Rodney.
Ronon nodded. He too had felt the change. He knew what it meant, John was finally able to say goodbye. The city was at peace, and so was the team.