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Author's Chapter Notes: Sheppard learns how, against all odds, his son survived

Thanks as always goes to my brilliant beta Susan

All mistakes are mine alone.

Sheppard strolled beside Rosa, hands in his pockets and his head bent slightly to shield his eyes from the sun. He silently cursed himself for not having the mind set to remember his sunglasses.

As they walked up the slight incline, which led to another part of the village, Sheppard initiated the conversation. “So tell me the details of this plan.”

Rosa nodded tightly her face pinched and pale. “I have to warn you Colonel, it will be disturbing. Do you truly want to put yourself through this?”

Sheppard drew in an intense breath in an effort to brace himself. He gave a sharp nod.

Rosa’s expression became sombre. “As I said earlier Elizabeth’s injuries were serious. The slightest movement would trigger pain. However her cuts and bruises needed attention, at least daily, including those caused by the restraints.

Sheppard’s clenched his fists, his eyes haunted. God Elizabeth you didn’t deserve any of this.

A pressure on his wrist made him turn his head slightly. He was shocked to realise he was trembling.

“John?” Rosa frowned at him, a flicker of worry crossing her face.

He silently raised his hand indicating for her to continue. Thankfully she didn’t challenge him. Instead, Rosa continued to explain what Elizabeth and she had planned.

Although it seems extreme, Elizabeth’s injuries were what tipped the scales in our favour. She didn’t need to make a show of being in pain. She already was. We needed more than this though. It was critical that Kolya’s suspicions were not aroused. We needed Kolya to believe my beliefs and feelings regarding Elizabeth were unchanged. It had to seem as if I still found her vile and unworthy of my care.”

Rosa paused. Her chest heaved, and beads of perspiration stood out on her brow. Her eyes darted around as if searching for something, causing Sheppard to raise his eyebrows in confusion. However she seemed to find what she sought and with a wave of her hand, beckoned Sheppard to follow. Soon they were sitting on small white columns, which Sheppard found to be surprisingly comfortable.

Sheppard looked up curiously as a dark shadow loomed from the side of him. Ronon and McKay had joined them. Both men displayed expressions of concern. He construed they were following close enough to listen but attempting to give them some privacy at the same time. Sheppard had no reservations as to who had advocated it. It had to be Ronon. There was no way McKay would happily remain in the background without persuasion. It was no surprise therefore when McKay pushed his way forward to question Rosa. Sheppard had to admit though it was a question that he himself was about to ask.

“Why were Elizabeth’s injuries so important to the success of your so called plan?” asked McKay, his tone almost accusing.

Rosa lifted her head, and Sheppard noted how haggard she looked. Her eyes were heavy with unshed tears.

“Treating Elizabeth’s injuries always caused her great pain. The harsher I treated her, the greater her pain. Kolya derived a sick gratification from Elizabeth’s suffering. It was an added pleasure for him when he discovered that I too liked to make her suffer. If only he knew it couldn’t be further from the truth. I hated every minute of it.” She paused “To know she was crying and in pain, because of my doing, was almost unbearable.” She paused again her eyes filling with pain. “I only held out because Elizabeth begged me to. She was far stronger than I will ever be.”

“You did what you had to do” although his words lacked conviction and his jaw muscles tensed as he visualised Elizabeth’s pain.

If Rosa picked up on the slight contradiction from Sheppard she didn’t comment on it.

“Knowing that doesn’t help,” replied Rosa, a look of regret reflected in her eyes.

“Didn’t you accomplish what you set out to do?” questioned McKay, a distinct lack of accusation in his tone this time.

Rosa looked up, her face brightening slightly. “Yes we did. Kolya eventually got bored and seemed relieved to leave Elizabeth to me. The security detail also lessened. Kolya knew I objected to their presence, and agreed to my request to scale them down. Finally I was able to care for Elizabeth in the way she should have been treated from the very beginning.”

Silence loomed until finally McKay spoke up. “How did you manage it?”

Rosa looked confused. “What part are you referring to Dr McKay?”

“Connor of course,” glowered McKay. “How did you manage so save him from Kolya?”

Rosa pushed back a strand of hair that insisted on falling forward in to her eyes.
“We needed a strategy that would protect Connor from Kolya. Elizabeth and I spent a harrowing few weeks trying to come up with something that had any chance of succeeding. Elizabeth however eventually came up with a suggestion that could grant us a potentially favourable outcome. Convince Kolya that her child didn’t survive the birth.”

“And how was that going to work? I think even Kolya would notice the conspicuous lack of evidence, like a body.” Rodney challenged an evident sarcasm to his tone.

“McKay if you just shut up for a minute maybe Rosa will have a chance to explain,” snapped Sheppard. He returned his attention to Rosa, “Ignore McKay his mother forgot to teach him manners.”

“I do not mind, I can understand his lack of patience.” replied Rosa with a barely hidden smile “This, he compensates with his loyalty to his friends. Am I right Dr McKay?”

He choked, his eyes wide with embarrassment, but just as quickly his normal blustering personality took over. “Well it’s about time they started showing me the same respect. I don’t know how they’d cope, if I decided I’d had enough 0f not being appreciated, and up and left them in the lurch. I’ll tell you, without me, Atlantis wouldn’t survive.

Rolling his eyes, Sheppard retaliated “You can’t take all the credit McKay. In fact, many of the occasions were down to something you did, or caused, in the first place. Now, can we possibly get back to the reason we are here in the first place.”

McKay fell silent a hint of shame reflected in his eyes.

A gruff voice broke through the awkward silence “The plan went ahead.”

“Yes Ronon it did. It was in actual fact the only one we could come up with that had even a remote chance of success” Rosa agreed calmly.

Rosa was intrigued by the man who literally towered over her. He gave off an aggressive air, yet she didn’t feel in the least intimidated by him. She sensed his intense loyalty to his friends, the Colonel in particular. However, now was not the time to wonder about her new acquaintances. They were waiting to hear something of greater importance to them.

“Dr McKay you were questioning how we expected our plan to work without concrete evidence. That was also the question we asked ourselves over and over again. We didn’t foresee any major problems during the time Elizabeth was in labour or immediately afterwards. The difficult part would be when we told Kolya of the tragic loss of the child.”

Sheppard, screwed his eyebrows into a frown. “Surely Kolya would insist on being present. Not necessarily in the same room, but near enough to be fully aware of what was happening.”

Shaking her head Rosa calmly replied. “You’re forgetting that I already had his confidence. A few hints here and there, about the act of giving birth.” She smirked “Kolya quickly decided he didn’t want any part in it. Neither did his men.”

A look of concern replaced Rosa’s previous calmness. She couldn’t fail to notice the beads of sweat building up on the Colonel’s brow and neck. That alone wouldn’t have concerned her, at this hour of the day the heat did become exceptionally uncomfortable. It was the screwing up of his eyes, and the wince he gave every so often when he though nobody was looking.

“John are you feeling the effects of the sun? Maybe we should head back in doors.”

John’s eyebrows shot up and he looked slightly uncomfortable. “No... I’m fine.”

Rosa wasn’t convinced, especially when she also observed the appearance of lines under his eyes. She was smart enough to realise however, John wouldn’t admit to feeling under the weather. It was going to up to herself to take action.
“Still the sun is incredibly uncomfortable I think we would all benefit from a short break from the sun’s rays.”

Stepping forward to help Rosa to her feet Sheppard smirked. “But you spoiling my chance of getting a sun tan. Just think of all the jealous faces if we went back with tanned.

Laughing, Rosa slipped her arm through Sheppard’s “May be so, but returning with sun stroke will not make me very popular with your own healer.”

They headed back in the direction taken previously.

“Do you want to know how we managed to overcome the seemingly impossible?” Rosa stared up at Sheppard as she spoke.”

Sheppard nodded slowly.

“A close friend from a few doors away, had her daughter staying. The daughter was not much older than Connor, when they first came to live here. Now she was preparing to give birth herself. Unfortunately she went into labour prematurely and gave birth to twin boys.”

Rosa’s attention wandered for a few seconds as she remembered that bitter sweet day. “Although one was born alive and well, the other tragically died from complications surrounding the birth.”

Although he raised his eyebrows, in realisation, Sheppard remained quiet. Content, for the moment at least, to listen to what Rosa was telling them.

“They were sympathetic to Elizabeth’s situation and were enraged at her treatment. However what the grieving new mother suggested, has to be the most selfless act I have ever known, and the bravest. She offered their dead son so he could be the proof we needed to deceive Kolya. They felt this way something good would be derived from their son’s tragic passing.”

“If it were my son I don’t know if could’ve done that,” replied Sheppard, with mixed emotions. It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful because that wouldn’t be true, but at the same time he felt shocked. He didn’t understand how grieving parents would even contemplate such a thing.

“I doubt many people could. Now though, we were faced with another problem. Two weeks still remained until her due date. It left us with one option. We needed to artificially start her labour without delay. I knew of a plant whose properties did just that ”

Sheppard faltered slightly. “What about the risks involved? Surely something like that , you would have no control over.”

“It has been known to have an adverse affect on the mother, child or both, but we were out of options. It was a risk we were forced to take”

Silence reigned for a few moments as they gingerly edged their way back over the stream that ran through the village.

Once over safely Rosa continued with her explanation. “Thinking back on it now, so many things could have gone wrong. Luck, or whatever else you would like to call it was certainly on our side. It was hard on Elizabeth, to experience an exhausting labour, and not get to see her child. It was the one thing that did upset her. However she took comfort knowing he was alive and safe.

Sheppard sighed. He could feel Elizabeth’s anguish, the pain of not being given the one and only opportunity to hold their child before he was whisked away from her forever. He realised why, if Kolya… Wait a minute Kolya .Nausea burned in his gut and he reared back like he’d been slapped. “What did he do to her?” He tried to swallow around the tension, feeling his throat close instead. “His whole reason for abducting Elizabeth was to get his hands on our
Ronon stepped forward ready to support his friend.

However it was Rosa that suddenly drew their attention. She swayed and had to grab hold of a nearby fence to remain standing. The colour drained from her face and she appeared to be inhaling only small painful bursts of air.

Alarmed Sheppard immediately went to Rosa’s aid forgetting his own pain and anguish. Ronon and McKay also followed, but when they saw Sheppard had it under control they stepped back to give Rosa more space.

Sheppard placed a hand on her arm to give her support and gradually eased her down until she was sitting on the ground. She leaned back against the fence and finally managed to give him a weak nod. Her pallor gradually receded until her normal colour returned and she appeared to breathe easier.

“Sorry I don’t know what came over me there,” apologised Rosa.

“This must be hard on you Rosa. I’m sorry for asking you to relive it.”

“To be honest, I think I have just tried to bury how badly it affected me.” She struggled to her feet as she spoke, assisted by Sheppard, although he still looked as her anxiously. “I don’t think I have ever truly come to terms with what happened. I feel so guilty for my part in it.”

“Don’t be. I doubt Kolya gave you any choice,” Sheppard tone held more conviction than previously.

They were prevented from discussing it further as Teyla came hurrying towards them.

“Teyla,” before he could say anymore Teyla interrupted him

“John, it is okay. He is still fast asleep and Radim is watching over him. I only came out for some fresh air and so Rosa didn’t appear well.”

Rosa waved her hand dismissing their concern. “In all honesty I am perfectly well. It was only a little turn and I am fully recovered.”

The others weren’t particularly convinced but Rosa was adamant. They were in agreement though to return to Rosa’s dwelling, now only a few feet away. Assisted by Sheppard and Teyla, Rosa led the way back.

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