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Author's Chapter Notes: Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Stargate Atlantis or the characters. If I did Atlantis would be still on the air and Elizabeth back as leader.
Author's note: A huge thank you to my beta Sue (Iratus), for her hard work and patience. As always any mistakes are my own.

Sheppard’s eyes twinkled with silent laughter as he watched the antics of his son, whose second birthday they were about to celebrate. Connor jumped up and down on his chubby little legs, wildly waving his hands as he tried unsuccessfully to see what Major Lorne held in his arms.

The look on Lorne’s face was equally hilarious. His eyebrows creased into deep lines as he focused fully on preventing his charge from seeing the contents of the box he carried. Then to Sheppard’s utter delight the Major pouted and stamped his feet in frustration and in full view of his Military Commander. Sheppard rubbed his hands, already thinking of the sweet taste of blackmail. Major Evan Lorne almost flummoxed by a two year old.

It had to be said his son wasn’t just any ordinary two year old, Connor had already lived and experienced more things, in his short two years, that any adult back on Earth. There was no doubt though, he was a trouble magnet; trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went. Sheppard’s skin crawled and he winced as he visualised the next few days, Dr Beckett red faced and flustered dashing between the influx of patients as they hobbled into his infirmary with varying injuries to toes, ankles and feet. The cause... a two year old tear-away, trying to master, what was probably the first tricycle ever to be seen in the Pegasus Galaxy. Boy was it going to be an eventful few days.

Thankfully Rosa the healer, who had made Atlantis her home, was effective in controlling her young charge. She mastered it, without feeling the need to threaten punishment, or raise her voice. Not that it took much for Connor to listen to her, well, most of the time.

John was aware that next to him Rosa was his son’s favourite person. The closeness between them was due to the bond that had developed, when he was a small baby in Rosa’s care back on Spyros. She had partially filled the empty place in his heart that would have belonged to his mother. Not that Sheppard had forgotten his promise to Elizabeth. They talked about Elizabeth to Connor all the time, and showed him pictures of her. He knew she was in heaven, not that he was yet old enough to understand it all, but in time he would.

Sheppard’s heart flipped and his breath came out in short gasps as he fought to ward of the impending panic attack. He’d been afflicted with these shortly after bringing Connor home but with Beckett’s guidance they’d subsided remarkably. It was caused this time by the thought of what today’s date signified and every year from now on. It was not just the anniversary of Connor’s birthday; it had also come to signify, to Sheppard, the anniversary of Elizabeth’s death. It may not be the official date she died but to him the birth of his son also marked her pending death, her usefulness to Kolya now extinguished. As John saw it one would always bear relationship to the other. A constant reminder of what they’d lost.

A small voice pulled him from distraction. He looked up to see Connor shouting and waving as Lorne picked him up ready to carry him into the jumper, organised now for their short trip to the Athosian mainland.

Sheppard watched them leave the jumper bay his lips still curled up into a smile. Glancing at his watch his eyes widened, were had the time gone. He cursed McKay once again, how come a minor repair suddenly needed repairing urgently. Why was it so urgent it have to be done today of all days.

The engineer ordered by McKay to fix the jumper, looked up hesitantly as Sheppard approached, warned no doubt by the unmistakable noise of boots on the Atlantean floor.

“Colonel Sheppard, it’ is all but finished. I’ve just to tighten the last bolt and then you’re ready to go.”

Angling his head to the side slightly, Sheppard acknowledged the engineer with slight nod. “Make sure McKay doesn’t give you anything else to do. It’s an official day off and that means everybody, apart from those who volunteered to man Atlantis.”

The man grinned, “I’ll certainly be sure to remind him Colonel.” Picking up the few stray tools he put them in the tool box. “I’ll no doubt see you later Colonel.”

The engineer was almost out of the jumper bay before Sheppard registered he was gone, his mind already on something else

Remembering the passing time, Sheppard after signalling a thank you to the disappearing engineer, quickly followed him out of the Jumper Bay. All that was left to do now was to collect the various bits and pieces, he needed from his living quarters, round up McKay, and it would be Athosian mainland here we come.

As he got nearer to McKay’s office, the shortest route to his own quarters, he could hear the astrophysicist’s shrill voice as he screamed at some poor victim. Clearly the atmosphere in Atlantis hadn’t penetrated McKay’s thick skin. Sheppard made a sharp detour; there would be time enough to listen to McKay’s gripes on the journey to the mainland. His faced suddenly screwed up into a grimace he was going to be tortured. With only McKay for company, on the way across, there’d be no chance of escape.

Suddenly he sniggered, one small boy, was all he needed to exact payback, when they landed. McKay and children weren’t a good combination, but boy, the grumpy scientist was no match for the determined boy. Connor would have McKay in a fluster in no time. Way to go son.

Having reached the door to his quarters, he swiped the security lock and entered. He refused to acknowledge the clothes scattered about in various locations. Time for that later. His mouth opened wide, losing the battle to stifle a yawn. He knew the ideal cure; cold water would invigorate his skin and chase away the remaining cobwebs. He grimaced as he stared at his hair but then nothing he did, ever had any effect. It still insisted on sticking up in various different places.

Looking into the mirror he caught the reflection of Elizabeth’s portrait smiling back at him. She was wide eyed and the emerald green of her eyes sparkled as she struggled to hold back the laughter whilst her photograph was being taken. Afterwards she’d slapped his arm, attempting unsuccessfully to keep a straight face as she scolded him for trying to make her laugh. The picture was taken three months before the fated trip to the Tronans and the little bump, that signified her condition, was already in evidence. The portrait was his most treasured possession.

With the passing of time, the pain of losing her had diminished, slightly. He was finding it easier to talk about her and of their precious time together. His love for her remained just as strong and he never wanted to let go of that.

He still lacked closure and wouldn’t have it until Kolya was tracked down and killed. The knowledge that after all the time that had passed, there still was no reported sightings of the Genii Commander was like a knife in John’s side. But he’d wait for the inevitable to happen, and it would, even if it meant waiting till he was old and grey, sooner or later Kolya would surface and John would get his wish. Revenge!

John’s own survival through the painful transitional period following news of Elizabeth’s death had been eased by the recovery of his son and the commitment and support of everyone who had stood by him. From his team, his work colleagues and remaining fellow Atlanteans, to the SGC, O’Neill, and to a small degree even the President himself, they’d all done their bit and because of them he had found the will to survive.

It was however, Rosa, initially a stranger, who had managed to get under his skin. She’d silently chipped away at the defence he’d built around himself. The only people he’d ever allowed to get beyond his defences were Elizabeth, Rodney and eventually the others in his team.

In some ways she reminded him of an older Elizabeth, both held similar qualities, vulnerability hidden beneath an incredible show of strength, courage and unwavering patience. Since Rosa had come into his life, he found himself for the first time experiencing what it would have been like to have a normal home life.

His own home life had been far from normal. Blamed by his father for the death of his mother and a brother that sided with his father had turned him into a loner. He’d finally escaped the unpleasant atmosphere to begin a career within the air force and he’d seen them only on a couple of occasions since.

Now with Rosa he was finally getting a taste of what could have been and he found it comforting. He knew Rosa derived her own reward from it, the empty space in her heart now filled by him and Connor. Not long after she’d joined him in Atlantis, Rosa told him the heartbreaking tale of how her own family met their deaths at the hands of the Wraith. She understood what John was going through, but whereas John was spared his son; Rosa had been left totally alone.

Her comforting words and support were what he needed when he felt he couldn’t go on. She was his living proof that even in the darkest of despair, there was an end in sight. All that was required of him was to reach out and grab it.

John was suddenly kicked out of his memories by the crackling of his head set. His eyebrows knitted together. “Calm down McKay. No one would dare finish the food before your arrival...” He shook his head in despair as he continued to listen...

“I’ve been working on this for days now you want to deprive me.”

“And how the heck am I depriving you” Sheppard gritted his teeth as he fought to contain his annoyance.

“You could’ve let me see Connor before Lorne rushed him off to the mainland.”

“You were the one who complained about the work that needed completing before you could enjoy our appoint day off. Any how you’ll see Connor shortly, if we leave anytime soon that is.”

“Well his present is delicate and not meant for the rough hands of other children.”

“You were the one who insisted on building him a miniature working puddle jumper. You do remember he’s two McKay. Not twenty two.” Secretly Sheppard couldn’t wait to get a shot of the toy puddle jumper. After all Connor would need a demonstration. In fact, change that to several demonstrations.

“Well if you spend all day standing deliberating on every word I say, everyone else will be returning before we even get round to leaving.”

Releasing an exasperated sigh John replied coolly “If it’s okay with you I need to collect a couple of things from my quarters. I’ll meet you in the jumper bay in five.”

Your organization skills are sorely lacking. Tell me how you do it. How do you manage to attend the daily morning briefing fully dressed?

Feeling his indignity rising Sheppard was about to retort with a scathing reply but the sudden quietness from his head peace told him Rodney hadn’t given him the opportunity. Well there was still later, McKay needn’t think he was getting away that easily.

Well McKay would just have to wait. Sheppard had one last thing to do. His attention returned to the portrait of Elizabeth and his eyes misted over. “Elizabeth our son is two today. Which means, it’s also two years since we lost you? It’s been hard, you’ve no idea how hard but I promised you I’d survive, and I have. If you could only see how our son has grown, he’s quite the little dare-devil and okay I won’t argue with you I know he’s only taking after me but... well he is my son, okay our son. Any way, you know you love my adventurous side, so what the heck. But I promise to always keep him safe and raise him to be someone you’ll be proud of.” He leaned forward and placed his lips on hers before gathering his things and heading out to meet up with an extremely impatient astrophysicist.


On a planet on the far side of the galaxy, a pale, almost skeletal woman, toyed with the remnants of the rags she wore, vainly attempting to keep out the bitter wind. She stopped for a minute’s grace, her gaze unfocussed, but her mind was actively searching for something, or someone.

Her moment of solitude was abruptly brought to an end however as she heard the harsh voice that instilled great fear. She knew he’d caught her daydreaming when the excruciating pain of the lash, he carried with him always, made contact with the already bruised skin on her back. She held back a scream that’d built up in her throat but was unable to prevent a whimper of pain escaping. Never would she give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Only when she was once again encaged for the night, in the tiny damp room, would she allow the tears to flow, knowing there was no one around to gain pleasure from her torment.

The guard pushed her forward roughly, jarring her already painful muscles, and they screamed out to her. This continued until she was back in line with the other women. She knew better than try to explain she’d been instructed to fetch water for the women. To speak up would only earn her a severe beating, but she cringed at the accusing looks of the women as they realised she’d returned empty handed.

The captives, all women, were emaciated. Their thin legs trembled and almost buckled as the strength needed to stay on their feet diminished. Already today, one woman had fallen and cruelly left where she lay, minutes from death, but at last she had the chance to be free.

As she was once again shackled to the ankle chains, she tried to ignore the ringing in her ears, but it was making her head pound every time she forced herself to lift her head. Her face was pale and drawn as she looked through tired eyes that saw never ending despair. Why had she been born to suffer like this? Surely somewhere there existed a place where she’d be treated kindly? But she knew if there was, she’d never see it. All that existed for someone like her was cruelty and emptiness.

She sighed and forced her trembling limbs back into action. She couldn’t help but wonder, how many of the women wouldn’t return at the end of today’s shift. They were made to do hard labour from first light until the fall of darkness, with only the barest of sustenance to sustain them. Now because of her own stupidity, they were being denied the much needed water.

So many of the women, had found release from the only outlet open to them, death. Sometimes she wished for death, seeing it as a release from the hell she faced every day. But some unseen force or feeling always prevented her from taking the final step, the same feeling that had caused her to daydream today.


Rosa’s eyes shone and silent laughter build up from deep within her chest as her little charge came thundering towards her. Pretending to scold him, she scooped him up into her arms “Connor Jonathan Sheppard, how many times have I told you to walk, and not run around like a little wild man.”

Connor’s face lit up and his emerald green eyes twinkled with glee. His large green eyes along with the wayward curls, some of which framed his face, gave him the appearance of a little cherub. He already was a master at bending everyone to his will, especially his Uncle Lorne. But not today. Rosa had seen the equally as stubborn expression on the Lieutenant’s face as had shown on Connor’s.

She almost laughed aloud as she saw the various expressions appear fleetingly on the face of her young charge as he tried to work out how to get a successful outcome to his quest. Her mouth twitched as she saw him looking at her slyly from under his thick mop of curls. She had an idea what was coming.

Cupping Rosa’s soft face in his small hands to get her attention, Connor pointed to Lorne “Osa tell Cona...” he looked at her with a beseeching face. “Pese”

Rosa held him in one arm and ruffled his hair with the other while she smiled down at him. “But if I tell you it will not be a surprise now, will it. Anyway what about daddy, is he not getting to see it too?”

Connor frowned, “Where dada, dada no cum?”

Rosa pointed to the approaching jumper “Look, Daddy is just arriving.”

His eyes squinted because of the bright sun. Connor looked at Rosa then followed to where she pointed. The dimples on his cheeks stood out as he squealed loudly, his eyes now bright with exuberance. “Jumpa, Jumpa, dadda here.” He wriggled frantically trying to get free from Rosa’s vice like arms, but she held him tight.

“Patience, now give your daddy time to get out before you go running to him.” As John came in to view, from the back of the jumper, she gently placed Connor on his feet. “Now be careful, no running about as you were earlier” she sighed and raised her eyebrows in despair as he took off at top speed paying no heed to her warning.

But Connor had no thought for going slow, he wanted to see his dadda and the quicker he went the sooner he’d be with his beloved dadda.

Rosa shook her head in exasperation no matter how many times Connor fell, it never seemed to curtail him. Ever since he found what legs were for he wanted to use them to go as fast as possible even when it resulted in one leg getting entangled with the other and he found himself crashing awkwardly to the ground. His only reaction was to get up and scold his legs before taking off again. It appeared he was as fearless as his dad and as stubborn as his mother had been. Rosa cringed when she thought of the trouble he’d be the instigator of as he got older. She smiled to herself, she wouldn’t want him any other way.


Although it was Connor’s party there was also entertainment, food and refreshments arranged for the adults at John request. It was a long time since his people had the chance to relax and enjoy themselves and for everyone’s sanity it was time they did. Colonel Carter had arranged for cover so most of Atlantis’ personnel could attend.

John was thrilled at how successful the party was proving to be. The Atlanteans and the Athosian were not the only people to attend; also present were the Genii leader Radim, Darwin the Chief Councillor of Tronan and his now Assistant Councillor Brogan. Tagan, not long after his involvement in Elizabeth’s abduction, had found out the true nature of the rogue Genii, at the end of a Genii gun. He was buried where he fell, the Tronan people having ostracised him did not want him buried anywhere near their own dead, he was no longer one of them.

At first John hadn’t been to keen on extending an invitation to anyone other than themselves and the Athosians who were hosting the party. Colonel Carter had argued the point; her argument being it could only improve diplomatic relations and further cement their alliances with the Tronan and the Genii. Carter as usual had been right; the meeting of all four races had proved to be an overwhelming success for all involved.

As darkness fell gradually the exhausted children were put to bed, content with their day of fun. Though Rosa had volunteered to take Connor to bed, John refused. It was a rule he’d made for himself, to always be there to tuck his son in bed. Unless he was unavoidably detained or on an overnight mission.

Sheppard smiled down at his son as he lay asleep in his arms. He was astonished at the energy the two year old had displayed. Even as some of the younger Athosians succumbed to the call of sleep, Connor had still been going strong. Eventually though, exhaustion had caught up with him and he’d curled up on his dad’s lap and fell into a deep sleep.

Sheppard gently placed his sleeping son onto the bed and changed him in to his pyjamas without as much as a murmur passing from Connors lips. Placing the blanket over him Sheppard bent down to kiss him goodnight. He wasn’t ready to leave Connor just yet. Most nights, after his son was tucked up in bed, and asleep, Sheppard would sit beside him thinking once again of the miracle that had allowed their reunion. He knew he’d always carry the fear that something or someone would take Connor from him. But then didn’t everyone hold that fear, especially with the dangers they faced.

Sheppard knew though if anything happened to Connor, he wouldn’t survive, not a second time. Losing Elizabeth was torture and still, even after all the time that had past. There were days he felt his tightly leashed emotions fighting to break free before splintering into tiny fragments, the grief too much for him to bear.

Standing up reluctantly John tiptoed out of the room. He was just in time to see Ronon and Teyla disappear, their hands brushing, their bodies close but not quite touching. John smirked and his eyes sparkled, so maybe it had finally happened, they had realised what everyone else knew.

Now he’d be able to hit on the head, all the weird and obscure suggestions, on how to hook them up. What was the last suggestion? Oh, lock them in a closet together. Lieutenant Cadman’s suggestion if he remembered correctly. I mean, come on, could anyone really see Ronon allowing himself to be dragged into a closest, they’d be dicing with death.

He was happy for them, they deserved it; both have lived through harrowing experiences. One thing was certain the Atlantis betting pool was going to be busy.

Stepping outside he wasn’t surprised to see darkness had fallen, the shadows of the trees snaking about in the darkness alongside the flickering light from the campsite fires gave the place an eerie atmosphere. It was hardly surprising then, that when he felt a weight on his shoulder, he jumped in fright. He turned round to see Radim giving him a strange look.

“Couldn’t you have at least spoken before you accosted me?” He glowered at Radim.

Without waiting for a reply, Sheppard sauntered down to the sandy bank, of the shallow stream, that ran through the far end of the settlement. Spotting an abandoned chair he pulled it closer, and sat down. Radim followed him and now stood only inches away.
Sheppard couldn’t help but notice that the Genii was unusually agitated, He constantly wrung his hands, moving from foot to foot and his jaw twitched every few seconds.

“Are you okay, you seem to be unsettled about something, I noticed earlier but just thought you were finding the party a bit overwhelming,” enquired John.

Radim looked hard at John for a moment, before perching on the large brightly coloured stone, on the other side of John’s chair. “Actually there is something on my mind, and I’ve been debating all day whether to wait until later or to just come out and tell you knowing it would spoil everything you had planned for today. Seeing you and your son together I finally decided to wait until the closure of today.”

Sheppard looked confused and just a little intrigued “Spit it out Ladim, whatever it is.”

“It’s about Kolya,” The nervous twitch from his jaw got more intense and his eyes held a wary look

“What about Kolya.” John growled at the mention of the person he loathed more than the Wraith. His eyes were black with hatred as he spoke.

In the two years they’d hunted for him, nothing concrete had been found. Sheppard was adamant, he’d never give up; he’d find Kolya even if it took years and when he found him he’d have his revenge. Now it looked like his determination was finally going to be rewarded

“I think we’ve got him this time. In fact I know we’ve got him.” Ladim looked at Sheppard as he spoke, knowing the bomb shell he’d just dropped.

“How can you be sure, it’s not as if we haven’t been in the same situation so many times in the past? I don’t need to remind you, the outcome of those?” Sheppard’s eyes were as hard as flint and he spoke through clenched teeth.

“Because one of my men, a man I trust implicitly, has infiltrated a group of people presently deep in talks to do a deal with Kolya. He is at present a guest on their planet and will be until the deal reaches a conclusion. Brackow has found a way to be present when the deal is being discussed so he can track Kolya’s movements closely. Better still he can give us the best location for a planned ambush.

John jumped up, his eyes flashing with barely controlled anger. “And you say you knew about this even before coming here today but decided to keep it to yourself. We get our first crack at apprehending him and you decide to do nothing.” He flexed his hands, the muscle on his jaw pulsing. Had he been wrong in placing his trust in this man? “So, because of your delay, we may lose the only chance we’ll ever get.”

Radim gritted his teeth, irritated, but he couldn’t kid himself, he’d known how the Colonel would react, “Colonel Sheppard do you think I do not realise how important this is to you? If I thought there was any chance of losing him again I would have taken immediate action. However, Brackow has strict instructions to inform me of any movement from Kolya no matter how irrelevant he thinks it may be.”

He walked over to Sheppard and hesitantly placed a hand on his shoulder before continuing to speak, his voice softer. “Today belongs to you and Connor. I know how important finding Kolya is to you, but tomorrow will be time enough to go after him, Do not allow him take this day away from you and your son.

John knew Ladim was right but they’d been waiting so long for this “And what if by tomorrow he’s disappeared underground again and we’ve lost the only chance we’re ever going to get,” he returned his tone of voice strong but lacking his previous anger.

A deep gruff voice joined in the discussion “He won’t.”

“What makes you so sure?” John stood up so he could see the big man better. “What if it’s already too late?”

Shaking his head Radim replied. “This deal Kolya cannot afford to lose out on and it does not conclude until two days time. Tomorrow is a day of rest for the people of this planet. No talks will be allowed and this will work in our favour. From what Brackow has told me Kolya is a fair distance from the village settlement and from the Stargate. Our ambush of Kolya and his men should be concluded before the village gets knowledge of it.”

Ronon grinned viciously, “Good”

Radim glanced at the large Satedan, not for the first time relieved he was not his enemy, and then turned to Sheppard awaiting confirmation.

“I’ll need to run it past Colonel Carter first, but if she gives the thumbs up, we head out early tomorrow morning.”

The atmosphere was slightly subdued on the return to Atlantis, everyone now aware of Radim’s revelation. Carter quickly given the go ahead but implied the importance of attending the pre-mission briefing before retiring for the night.

John found it hard to sleep. His mind was in turmoil every time he closed his eyes to sleep. He was haunted by flashes of the day on Spyros and the look on Elizabeth’s eyes as she was dragged away by Kolya. It was a look that he’d never forget, not as long as he lived. Gradually the day’s activity caught up on him and his eye lids drooped as he imagined he smelt Elizabeth’s shampoo as she lay snuggled up beside him. He finally fell asleep with a promise on his lips.

A promise to Elizabeth. A promise to get her the retribution she was owed.

Chapter End Notes: Please review and tell me what you think. Let me know if there’s anything else you want added or changed.

Remember I only know you like it, if you review. So push the send button and keep the plot bunnies happy.

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