Dandelions by Reyclou
Summary: Anyone else would see weeds.
Sparky (pre-ship), Shep Whump, Angst, possible Canon Character Death.




Written for the swficathon on LiveJournal. Prompt was "Something with a lot of angst that doesn't end well."
Categories: Fanfiction Characters: None
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Character Death, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 2306 Read: 798 Published: February 25, 2007 Updated: February 25, 2007

1. Chapter 1 by Reyclou

Chapter 1 by Reyclou
Author's Notes:
Inspired by "Dandelions" by Five Iron Frenzy.

"In a field of yellow flowers,
underneath the sun,
bluest eyes that spark with lightning,
boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,
reveling in tiny dreams,
filling up, his arms with flowers,
right for giving any queen."
Elizabeth stared at her desk with its clean glass top, neatly displayed statuary, and perfectly arranged piles of highly sensitive work papers. Normally, she took as much pride in her own appearance as she did that of her desk. After all, a neat and organized desk showed confidence and competency. Today, however, her desk looked barren, cold, and empty.

Three months ago, a team of botanists had discovered a serum among the volumes of research within the Ancient database, a serum which appeared to halt the decay of plant life. The team had hoped to develop the serum for use as a food preservative, but quickly learned of an unfortunate and, for the moment, unavoidable consequence. While the serum effectively preserved fruit, veggies, and other such foods, the process left the subjects unsuitable, if not toxic, for human consumption. Elizabeth had, begrudgingly, ordered the project moved to the back burner and, shortly after composing that email, had pushed the whole thing out of her mind completely.

That is, until the flowers appeared.

Every morning, she walked into her office to find one lone yet solemnly gorgeous flower placed carefully across her desk – many with bursts of color unlike any she had ever before seen – and each having been perfectly preserved by the Ancient serum. At first, she had thought it a silent protest by one of the botanical scientists, a ruse to get the project reinstated, however as the mysterious flowers multiplied and the scientific interest in the project dwindled, she began to have her doubts. She tried to ignore it, but curiosity got the better of her. Oh, she had her list of suspects – and, oh, how she had her fantasies, but she could never nail down one shred of damning evidence, nor catch the giver in the act. When her subtle hints and questions yielded no leads, she went as far as to set up her own secret surveillance camera behind an Athosian mask in her office.

The plot never worked. Her camera caught only the still scene of her sleeping office. No one came to her office that night, not even to leave a flower. She was surprised to find herself sorely disappointed, not so much by her inability to catch her sneak, but more at the absence of a bright bud against the gleaming glass. In a way, she felt she had cheated herself.

It wasn’t until she went to bed that night that she found a strange violet rose placed ever-so-gently against her pillow, the scent of lavender still lingered on its petals.

Oh he was good.

In truth, for weeks Elizabeth had nothing more than a gut feeling as to the giver’s identity until the day John’s team returned late one evening from a simple scouting mission – without John.

The turn of events confused Ronon, Teyla, and Rodney as much as anyone. It was as if the Colonel had simply vanished, stolen away while their heads were turned and without so much as a single gunshot, a single shout, a single sound.

The news that he had disappeared hit Elizabeth harder than the news that he had been captured. Had he been captured in gunfire and hell sounds, she would have had somewhere to start, some one to question. But that he had vanished on an unnamed world in an unknown system led to a whole new host of dismal possibilities. Rodney’s pet theory involved something along the lines of a Wraith snare, but a careful sweep of the area had revealed nothing but tall trees and frightened forest animals. Not even Ronon’s expert tracking skills availed any hope. By all accounts it was as if the Colonel had just simply run away into the unknown universe. Run away, or was torn away.

All Elizabeth knew was that, since that day, her desk had lain empty, and her flowers never came.

-o-

Rodney began to wonder if there would ever again be a being in the universe as smart as him. The Greeks had produced a few fine minds, and he supposed Einstein and Hawking weren’t exactly imbeciles, but the more he traveled this fine galaxy of his, the less faith he had in the inborn intelligence of the average human.

Case in point, the Genii. Smart enough to develop nuclear technology. Protective shielding, however, seemed beyond them.

He had vainly hoped to leave the alien society in peace and let the problem take care of itself, but Elizabeth had insisted that, despite whatever pressing emergencies he felt required his attention at home – say the recovery of some kidnap-prone flyboy – the enduring existence of their human allies was an unquestionable concern, thus why he was shoved along with a small legion of Atlantis’ brightest to evaluate the glaring gaps in the Genii nuclear program.

They were large enough to fly a hive ship through. And, for once, Zelenka agreed.

But at least after a few tedious hours beneath the surface of a Genii base world, they had finally come to his favorite part of any off-world visit: leaving.

With Zelenka’s team and the rest of his own team gathered in what served as the Gate room for the alien Manhattan project, Rodney shimmied into his favorite off-world coat and waited for their host to open a wormhole home.

Of course, Ladon Radim had to go and ruin the moment by speaking. The alien scientist, who stood just the other side of Zelenka, turned to him with a sincere but reserved look of gratitude. “On behalf of all my people,” Ladon began, “I thank you for your help in this endeavor. I believe your expertise has not only furthered our pursuit, but saved many lives in the process.”

Rodney rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, now your children will live longer, fuller, three-headed lives.”

Zelenka winced, but Ladon gave him a tolerant nod before signaling one of his men to dial the Gate. However, before the younger man’s hand hit the DHD, the alien gateway whirled to life.

“What the…” Rodney blurted as Ladon and his men instinctively forced the Lantean team a few steps back from the forming wormhole. Heaven knew the Gate room, like everything else in the Genii base, was woefully inadequate. Rodney feared the bubbly kawoosh would swallow them whole, even as they had their backs pressed to the wall.

“What’s zis?” Zelenka sputtered reflexively. Rodney couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t about to come face to deadly face with a Wraith dart. A gruff voice muttered something over Ladon’s personal radio. The Canadian didn’t quite catch the language, but Ladon gave a subtle sigh of relief.

“I apologize, doctors,” Ladon replied. “Some of my men have just completed a raid on a base belonging to one of our rogue units and the team is returning to administer medical aide to the wounded.”

At a look from Teyla, Ladon straightened as if subtly offended. “I assure you, we have broken none of the conditions of our treaty with Dr. Weir. This was a purely defensive maneuver.”

Rodney smirked. “A defensive raid, eh?”

Ladon ignored the remark and turned to watch as men stepped through the glittering puddle. Some limped, some favored wounded limbs, others shouldered ailing comrades, guiding them away from the Gate. One pair carried a wounded soldier on a cot between them, his drab green uniform bloodied beneath a thick wool blanket. Rodney noted the man’s bruised and swollen face, not to mention the gash that ran from his eye to his pointed ear.

Rodney blinked. Wait a minute, he thought, stepping past Ladon’s guards for a better look. “Oh my god…”

The color drained from his face as the Gate whirled closed, taking with it the light. But Rodney had seen all he had wanted to see. He whirled on Ladon.

“Dial Atlantis. NOW!”



-o-

Elizabeth nearly skipped a step as she scuttled down the lighted staircase. Ladon, Rodney, several Genii, a small group of scientists and the rest of Sheppard’s team all passed through the warbling wormhole. Even as they crowded into the wide Gaterium, a med team wheeled a gurney in from the infirmary’s access hall.

Her Gaterium was a sea of bodies, but only one stood out amid the confusion. Unmistakably, Lt. Col. John Sheppard lay bruised, beaten and bleeding on a Genii cot, one side of his face so battered, she doubted his own mother could have recognized him. She stared at him for one eternal moment, waiting for a subtle shift in his chest that would signal to her the man was still alive. But between the commotion and the cloth piled on top of him, she could not make out his breaths.

Ladon, pale-faced and weak-voiced, apologized profusely, vowing to find out whatever he could about how the Colonel came to be in such a state. “My people found him locked in a cell within a rogue base. They had to… dress him… where they found him. My apologies, Dr. Weir, but I can only imagine this was an act of revenge.”

Ladon didn’t have to say who was responsible.

“These are his,” Ronon grunted, raising a bulky bag and a black vest he held in one hand. He absently passed them to her before moving to assist the med staff. She stood dumbstruck as the Satedan and the bustling nurses shifted the limp body from the cot to the gurney. John did not so much as grunt, did not so much as stir. Carson shouted a few commands and half the entourage scrambled for the infirmary. One nurse pulled the flaps of the ragged coat apart as another pressed two thin pads to John’s chest. Nightmares of John, laying still as death on a Jumper floor while Carson shocked him with a defibrillator, came flooding back in one gut wrenching glance.

Ladon and his men remained where they were, solemnly looking to her for a notion as to what to do next. Discipline told her she should take a moment, calm herself, and then tear into them – diplomatically, of course – but the sight of a dying Sheppard overrode any vestige of sane thought.

“Escort these men to the conference room,” she called to a marine, even as she stepped away. “I’ll handle them later.”

Ladon looked hurt, but did not resist as grey and camouflage clad soldiers ushered them toward the lighted stair. One of the marines offered to take the Colonel’s things off her hands. A small part of her wanted to sling the crude pack over her shoulder and dash off toward the infirmary, but already her arms ached from the weight of Kevlar, and the stench of sweat and blood tickled her gag reflex. Wordlessly she passed the items to the stocky man, nodding her thanks, but as he turned sharply, something caught her eye.

“Wait,” she stopped him with a hand, and he did. Elizabeth plucked open a pouch on the vest and removed its sparse contents, then waved him on his way. As the stoic marine marched off, Elizabeth turned away from the eyes of the Control room to examine her blood-bought prize.

In her hands lay a crumpled flower, stem crunched and bent, but its petals remained a bright and golden yellow. Despite the fact the head was nearly as large as her palm, the flower looked not unlike a dandelion. She didn’t need a degree in botany to know the thing was a weed; had she seen the stem only in passing, she would not have given it a second look. Yet as she looked at it now, she could not help but take in the simplistic, rugged beauty of the scruffy little flower.

“Oh, John,” she whispered, “It’s beautiful.”



-o-

Elizabeth slipped into the infirmary, just in time to watch John contract with a jolt from the defibrillator paddles. The gathered teams held a collective breath, waiting for a telltale blip from the heart monitor.

The Genii coat had been cut away and John’s wounds were left in the open for all to see. Amidst dried blood and sweat, purple mounds rose from pale flesh. Elizabeth thought she saw a tread mark shaped bruise on his side, covered in mud and grit. She eased closer, laying a hand on Rodney’s shoulder. He glanced at her with eyes sharp with worry, and then moved aside to allow her to step in front of him. When no trace of a heartbeat came, Carson charged the paddles and tried again. John’s body jolted and arced against the gurney and then dropped limp against the mattress.

Blip. Blip. Blip.

The teams took a collective breath. John’s eyes flitted slightly. The med staff redoubled their efforts, shouts for “milligrams of this” and “get me that” filled the air, but the voices all faded into a dull, mumbling roar as Elizabeth focused all her concentration on the man laid out before her. Even amid the bustle of Carson’s staff, Elizabeth had a clear shot of his face, and he of hers. Thus, when his eyes opened but a sliver, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who would win the struggle for his life – either cruel fate or kind providence.

John’s gaze lowered and Elizabeth realized he stared at the yellow blossom in her hands. She held it up a little higher and nodded in acknowledgement. She breathed a soft thank you, knowing even at full health he couldn’t have heard her. John smirked the softest of smirks anyway, then closed his eyes and drifted into sweet darkness. Carson’s face went pale.

Blip. Blip. Bleeeeep.

“Charge!”

Blip. Blip. Bleeeeep.

“Again!”

Blip. Blip…?
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