A/N: Here it is the last chapter...
He heard a faint beeping, people stirring about and he tried to listen closer, the sound of the ocean? Before he could make up his mind he faintly heard voices, familiar voices. He rattled his brain for the last thing he remembered. He had thought he had seen Ronon and someone had called out his name, or so he thought. He tried to open his eyes but the pounding in his head prevented the simple action, so he opted to keep them close for the time being. A sterilized and familiar smell filled his nose, well he was in an infirmary, that much he could make out. As he became more aware, the voices became clearer. Relief, happiness and several other emotions that he couldn't describe washed over him.
"No, no, no. What are you doing?! You can't do that!"
"Why not?" A gruff voice asked.
"Because you can't. Those are the rules."
"The game's rules!"
He heard small footsteps approaching. "I suggest you two lower your voices or Carson will not let us stay." A female voice chastised the two.
"But, but, but-"
"Rodney." Teyla said sternly.
He finally opened his eyes, the familiar Atlantis infirmary was a sight for sore eyes. As much as he hated being stuck in this place, for once he was glad to have woken up here. His sight finally landed on his team. He smiled as he saw Rodney clearing the chessboard, with Ronon grinning at him. Teyla just shook her head as she stood watching them. They hadn't noticed he had woken yet.
Rodney sighed dramatically. "Can't wait until Sheppard wakes up, at least he's a worthy adversary," he muttered under his breath.
"Well, glad you think so, Rodney." His throat was dry and his voice came out rough.
Three heads turned to look over at him and he gave them a tired smile. They quickly made their way over to his side. Ronon handed him a plastic cup filled with water. He took a small sip and felt the cooling liquid sooth his dry throat.
"How are you feeling, John?" Teyla asked.
"Well, other than the pain in my side and head, I'll say pretty good. Better than I felt…umm…" He realized he didn't know how long he had been out. "How long was I out?"
"Few days," Ronon answered.
"Yeah, Carson said you caught an infection or something," Rodney said.
"Or something?" he asked, chuckling at the way Rodney had said it.
"Hey, we were all pretty worried so it was hard to concentrate on all the medical jargon."
"Okay. I'll let it pass since you were so worried," he teased. They chuckled.
"I have to say, it's good to see you guys."
"And it's good to see you, in one piece…well almost in one piece," Rodney replied.
John gave a slight chuckle. "Yeah, I thought I was a goner back there. How'd you find me anyway? I had been trying to find a way back but came up with nothing."
"And what the hell happened?" he added as an afterthought.
"You do not remember?" Teyla asked.
"Not really. I had been trying to piece it all together but came up blank. I just remember we were talking about a movie night and then an explosion."
His team looked quizzically back at him. "An explosion?"
"Yeah. You guys didn't?"
They looked at each other.
"There was no explosion, John," Teyla answered.
"What the hell? Are you sure?"
"Yeah, we're pretty sure," Rodney said.
Now he was confused, how did he come up with an explosion? He saw the wreckage.
"Then what happened? I mean you dialed the gate right?" he asked Rodney.
"Yeah, dialed the gate. Atlantis lowered the shield, and we went through."
John tried to scramble his brain for anything that he could remember but nothing came.
"You were right behind us, or so we thought but you never showed up, we were gonna go back when all of a sudden the gate shut off."
"Wait, so what the hell happened?" he asked.
"We were hoping you could tell us," Teyla said.
He shook his head; he didn't remember any of that. Then a thought hit him. "The Governor."
"What? Who?" Rodney asked, confused.
He sighed. "That crazy Governor wanted me to join him and his cause. Did Beckett find anything in my blood work?"
"Umm…" Rodney looked at the others. "I don't think so. He didn't say, which probably means he didn't."
"What are you thinking, Sheppard?" Ronon asked.
He remembered the secret assignments that even Orasen was not allowed to know about. "I think I was drugged or something."
"Yeah, not exactly sure when…"
"But if you were then it would have left your system by now, no? I mean that is if you were only drugged once."
John's thoughts wandered, he wondered what else had been a lie or hallucination or whatever. Had there even been a war at all? That was probably true, Orasen had confirmed that. Did the Governor destroy the gate himself to make the lie more believable? He wouldn't doubt it. Just like before, he had more questions than answers. "Yeah."
"Wait, why only you? I mean, not that I'm complaining but why you?" Rodney asked.
John looked over at him, not knowing what to say. He didn't have an answer to that and the Governor had been sure not to give him one. Maybe it had been his way to make sure that he never forgot, that he would torture himself, trying to figure out why he had singled him out.
He shook his head, chasing the thoughts away. That didn't matter anymore, he was here now and his team was alive and well.
"So, how'd you guys find me?" he asked hoping to change the subject. He looked at his team and saw the concern but they said nothing. He knew they were aware that he had purposefully changed the subject.
"Well…" Rodney started. "After we tried dialing back several times and getting nothing, we set out to find another gate that would lead us to that planet. That took a lot longer than expected. We couldn't find even a remotely close gate to that one."
"Yeah, I know. I tried looking for one too," he interrupted.
"We knew you would as well," Teyla spoke up.
"The Deadalus was on some sort of mission and nobody could get in contact with it, so they were no help," Rodney continued. "Just as we had thought we had exhausted all of our resources, we visited a planet that knew of a gate somewhere in the vicinity of where you were. We came back here, I looked for the planet in the ancient database and surprise, surprise, there was no mention of it at all. I mean why do they omit important stuff like-"
"So…" Ronon interrupted as he gave Rodney a look. John chuckled as Ronon continued, "we took a puddlejumper but it took us a day to get to you."
"And that is when the Dedaulus arrived. They boarded us and beamed us down to the planet," Teyla continued.
"And that's when we saw the destruction. I mean what happened?"
"Long story but basically got caught in the middle of some war between two cities," he answered. He was too tired to go into it now.
"Well, anyway, we didn't know how we would find you, but then we saw you there, bleeding on the ground. The Deadalus beamed you up immediately. I mean you should have seen Carson when he took one look at you. He told us that if we hadn't arrived when we did you would have most likely…" he trailed off as he looked at the others.
He glanced down at the cup in his hands. So he had been right, it had almost been the end.
"But…" he looked up at hearing Teyla's voice. "You are alive and well, which we are grateful for," she said with a smile.
The others nodded as well.
He smiled and looked over to the side, out the window. He saw the sun slowly begin to set, realizing it had been four months since he had seen a setting sun.
Do not lose hope. Orasen's words once again echoed in his mind. He was probably the only one that had been truthful; he had seen sincerity in his eyes whenever he spoke. He realized how much help he had been not just with information but also with everything else. He had been there for support, emotional support as he thought back, something he usually didn't ask of others. He hoped that he had gotten out; no he knew he had made it out alive and maybe someday he'll run into him again.
"Are you alright, John?" he heard Teyla ask.
He looked over and noticed the worried, expectant faces looking back at him. He smiled, "Yeah, I guess I'm just a little tired."
He noticed the doubt in their faces, they knew him too well and he averted his eyes, suddenly finding the creases of the clean, white sheets interesting.
"Perhaps we should let you rest, then," he heard Teyla say. He looked up at the concerned faces. "We just wanted to be here when you woke up to make sure you were well."
He gave them a small smile and nodded, hoping that would satisfy them for now. "Thanks and I'm okay. No major damage, Ill be up and about soon…if I can convince Carson, that is."
His team chuckled.
"Well, I better get back to my lab," Rodney said. "I'll come by later again." He gave a small wave as he walked out.
"And I've got some sparring to do." Ronon said as he patted John's sheet covered foot. "Movie, later?"
He chuckled. "Only if you smuggle in some popcorn, buddy."
Ronon smiled. "I can do that."
"Maybe some beer if you can," John called after him only receiving a small wave in return.
He noticed Teyla had sat down on a chair next to his bed. "Now, don't take this the wrong way but don't you have somewhere to be?"
She shook her head. "We decided one of us should stay with you for the time being. Each of us will take a turn and I am to take the first."
"Drew the short stick, huh?" He joked hoping to mask his uncomfortableness. He didn't really want people to make a fuss over him, but he knew his team was just looking out for him, doing what family does.
She looked over at him, confused.
"Never mind," he chuckled.
"Perhaps it is best if you sleep," she said with a smile.
He gave a small laugh, suddenly realizing how tired he was, the small burst of energy he had had earlier slowly dwindling. He watched as she took out a book and leaned back on the chair. He leaned back more comfortably on his pillow and closed his eyes.
He found he couldn't sleep, or more like didn't want to sleep. He remembered the vivid nightmares and the feeling of hopelessness he had felt just days before. As much as he had convinced himself that everything that happened would have no effect on him, he knew he was lying to himself. He hated to think that the Governor had been right; he had succeeded in breaking him.
"John?" Teyla's voice broke through his thoughts.
He opened his eyes to find her standing at his side, a look of concern on her face.
He attempted to smile but failed and cast his eyes downward. "I thought you guys were gone," he confessed, much to his surprise.
She didn't say anything, maybe waiting for him to say more, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything else, it wasn't like him.
"From what you have told us I can see how you would have come to believe that." He looked up at her and she smiled. "But deep down you must have known that we were alive."
He looked at her confused. How could she have come to that conclusion?
"Why else would you have been looking for a way back to Atlantis and resisted the Governor's insistence to join his cause?"
He let her words sink in, slowly realizing she was probably right.
She placed a hand on his arm. "You did not lose hope, not even when surrounded by death and destruction."
He had been close, but he knew he couldn't give in even when he had thought he had lost everything. Maybe the Governor hadn't succeeded after all, he might have created wounds and like he had said it would leave scars but they would eventually heal. He hadn't completely broken him; he had managed to keep that hope alive. He knew the nightmares and fears would not disappear completely but he would use them to drive him.
He watched the sun finally disappear, the red and orange replaced by the black of the night, a few stars barely visible.
He looked at her and smiled. "I guess you're right."
She smiled as she sat back down on her chair and scooted closer to his bed. "By the way, did you happen to meet a pretty girl while you were there?" she asked and he heard the teasing tone in her voice.
"Why does everyone ask that?" he chuckled, fully aware at her attempt to get his mind away from what he had just been through. He didn't mind though, he was glad that his team would do whatever it took to look after him just like he would and always did for them.
Hope you enjoyed it and it answered some of your questions. Thanks to all that read, reviewed or followed the story, hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it!