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Author's Chapter Notes: 'Don't do that to me!' he exhaled.


The quiet couldn't last after the events Lucius Lavin had forced upon Atlantis, but the next two months of pure quiet was a blessing, like the eye of the storm, they would say later, looking back over the events that shaped both Atlantis and the Expedition into what they would both become. It was Pierson, in a routine study of the long range scanners, that noticed the warning lights and the blip on the screen that would prove a prelude to an all out Wraith attack.

Although he took Miller, Elizabeth could see he’d rather have gone alone. Their plan was tenuous, the risks high, but short of abandoning Atlantis altogether, there was little choice. Sheppard was taking a Jumper, cloaked, to break into the Hive Ship and blow it from the inside.

‘John?’ Her voice was light, deliberately so, he could tell. She stood in the open doorway of his quarters as he reviewed the Hive Ship schematic. Hopefully, this class of Hive ship wouldn’t be vastly different from the intel they had gathered already from their allies and past missions. Either way, once he made it inside, he knew exactly where to place the explosives. The only thing he couldn’t do was disable the Dart launching sequence. Atlantis would be dealing with them on her own, which was problematic to say the least since their ZPM was depleting fast.

He looked up, ‘come in,’ he said, slipping a pile of clothes and paperwork off the side of the bed and onto a chair. She slowly entered, crossing her arms and hesitating before he reached up, taking her hand and pulling her down beside him.

‘It’s going to be okay, Lis’beth,’ he murmured, slipping an arm around her and pulling her close.

‘You can’t know that John. Do me a favour, okay. Don’t lie to me.’

He nodded, she was right, he couldn’t lie to her. ‘Then Atlantis is going to be okay. Rodney’ll find a ZPM or boost the power and the shields will hold. I’m know that, I can feel it.’

She nodded, but he wasn’t sure she believed him anyway. ‘What about you?’ she whispered, refusing to look at him.

‘I’ll be fine. Cloaked ship, Miller’ll keep me from stupid heroics, we’ll blow up the Hive ship and make it back home for dinner.’

A ghost of a smile touched her lips and she nodded again, taking the hand on her shoulder and pulling his arm tighter around her. She turned her head, kissed the back of his hand and let go, standing. ‘I’ll see tomorrow, mess hall, 1800 hours sharp then Major.’ Without turning she strode away, leaving him with his own dark thoughts as he watched her go. Shaking them off, he returned to the schematics he had been studying.

Miller leaned heavily against the side of the Jumper, half slumped in her seat. Sheppard glanced across as her, ‘you okay?’

‘I will be,’ she replied through gritted teeth.

Sheppard nodded. ‘Right. Hold on, we’ll be home soon. Carson’ll fix you right up.’

She acknowledged his words with a weary nod, pale as milk. ‘Yessir.’ Leaning even more into the side of the Jumper, she closed her eyes, trying to relax and let the pain recede.

He activated the Jumper’s engines, sending it gliding through space faster than the crippled Hive ship could follow. The mess he’d left behind was irreparable but Sheppard had another trick up his sleeve. As soon as the jumper was clear, he set off the last explosives, shattering the core of the Hive ship and behind them space was briefly lit with a new sun as it was torn asunder, spilling its guts, including Wraith, into the cold darkness between the stars.

They cloaked, Hive darts streaking past them, hell bent on reaching Atlantis and wreaking vengeance. Desperate though he was to reach the city, Sheppard reserved his power and erred on the side of caution. He couldn’t reveal their ship to the Wraith Darts, else he and Miller would never make it back to base alive.

He darted a sideways glance at the lieutenant. Still breathing. Good. And the blood flow seemed to have slowed down. All he had to do now was get to Carson. They followed the trail of Darts, praying that Rodney had found the ZPM Teams Four and Six had gone after and that the city was safe against all assault.

Inside the city, sparks flew as the first of the Darts reached Atlantis, beaming inside the shields and bombarding her from clear blue skies. Somewhere in the depths of the city, McKay was racing for the power room with a ZPM, and Elizabeth prayed none of the Wraith would find him. Standing over the scanners with Zelenka, she targeted Wraith signals, diverting teams to intercept the enemy and fight them on the ground. The control room shook, another wave of fire shattering another spire.

‘Rodney!’ Elizabeth’s voice echoed over the intercom. ‘Rodney! We’ve got about five minutes before the central dome collapses, we need that shield before the main attack force gets here!’

He heard the words, but Rodney was unable to do anything about it. Ahead of him, four Wraith beamed into the corridor between him and the power control room. ‘Shit,’ he hissed, sliding the box to the ground and ducking behind a pile of crates. He felt for the gun strapped to his thigh holster, wondering how many he could kill before they took him down.

For the first time in his life, Rodney wished he could shoot straight.

He heard their voices, speaking in their own language. He didn’t understand a word, but the meaning was clear, they knew he was here and intended to have a little fun. Well, if he was going to die, Rodney McKay wasn’t going to die cowering on the ground.

He stood, pulling the gun. ‘Alright! Have it your way! Come on then!’ He yelled the words with defiance, yanking his pistol. The first shot missed, the second grazed a Wraith, the third took him in the chest and then the gun clicked.

Click, click.

‘Oh, hell!’ Rodney’s eyes grew wide as he realised he couldn’t even shoot himself, let alone a Wraith at that point. With a guttural laugh from the roar of fury his assault had evoked the leader charged forward, hand outstretched.

Rodney braced himself but a fusillade of fire filled the corridor and the Wraith fell, spilling blood and shaking with the impact of a spray of bullets. Behind him his comrades went down too and Teyla appeared, tawny hair flying as she raced towards McKay, taking down the last Wraith.

‘Dr McKay. Are you alright?’

‘Yeah, uh, yeah, fine. Good timing. Brilliant.’

‘Do you have the ZPM?’

‘Huh?’ he replied, still staring at the bodies on the ground.

‘Rodney! Do you still have the ZPM?!’ Teyla demanded again, her voice urgent.

‘Yes, yes. Right here.’

‘Good. We must go. Dr Weir needs the shields. More Wraith are coming. Dr McKay, hurry!

He nodded again, grabbing the box and dashing after her as she took point, heading for the power control room.

As soon as he was within range, Sheppard scanned the city. She had sustained damage, and he called out over the comms. ‘Atlantis, Atlantis, this is Sheppard. Do you read?’

‘Jon! Yes, we read you.' It was Elizabeth's voice.

‘The Hive ship is down. I repeat, the Hive ship is down, but you have darts incoming. Raise your shields, Atlantis!’

‘We can’t.... offline...’

‘Dammit,’ he hissed. He was too far away to help them, too few to stop the entire fleet. He paused, looking over his shoulder at the spare explosives the jumper still carried. If he set them right, he could close the front bay and string out the explosives like mines if he ploughed straight into the ranks of the Wraith Darts. It would splinter their fleet, destroying their concerted attack on the city. It would certainly take out a dozen ships, maybe more, and it would definitely buy Atlantis more time.



The only downside was the Jumper would probably be taken out by collision if not by firepower.

Miller watched him, her eyes flickering wearily from the cargo to his face. ‘Do it,’ she said suddenly.

‘What?’

‘Do it. Whatever it is you’re thinking. Do it. Otherwise we lose Atlantis.’

He nodded, setting the Jumper to autopilot and jumped up, heading for the explosives.

Down in the power control room of the city, Rodney put the ZPM into its slot, dashing to the console but he couldn’t see a damn thing. Nothing was happening. From Ops, Elizabeth’s voice cut over the comms. ‘Rodney! We need those shields!’

‘They should be active!’

Distantly he heard Zelenka, ‘I have nothing!’

‘Dammit!’ He ran forward again, slapping a hand on the console before trying to force the ZPM into its slot. All of a sudden it moved under his hands, sliding downwards silently, the whole console lighting up.

In the Op centre, Elizabeth approached the windows, watching a dark cloud gather in the distance. A rain of Wraith Darts, heading directly for the unprotected city. ‘Rodney!’

‘Yeah, go now. Go now!’

Zelenka activated the shields, a blue wall sliding up over the city, protecting inside a domed forcefield. Elizabeth spun away from the window, activating the second channel on her comm. ‘John! John! We have shields! Get clear of Atlantis!’

Inside the Jumper, the radio crackled and Miller leaned over, activating it. ‘...have shields!’ Weir’s voice filled the cabin and Miller grinned, turning her head to meet Sheppard’s shocked gaze. ‘Get clear of Atlantis!’

Pushing Miller aside, John jumped in the pilot’s seat, swinging the cloaked Jumper up and clear of the diving Wraith fleet. He watched as they dived bombed the city, yellow fire filling the space where Atlantis had been. The concussion wave came then, throwing them higher until the blue disappeared and the stars shone silently in front of them. The Jumper stuttered and stalled, hanging in space.

‘Atlantis?’

‘Atlantis?’ The silence was deafening, and he exchanged a grim glance with Miller before trying again. ‘Elizabeth? Come in, what is your status?’ He tried to keep the panicked tone out of his voice but the silence stretched out again, and he willed them to still be there, to be safe.

‘We... still here- That’s our status,’ the signal cleaned up fast, but it didn’t matter what she said, just that she had said something. He let go the breath he had been holding, taking another and another, the relief washing over him in a wave. 'Don't do that to me!' he exhaled.

'Sorry,' he could almost hear the grin in her voice.

‘It’s all clear up here. Looks like Atlantis’ defences saw them off.’

He could hear her sigh of relief over the comms before she told him to go ahead and dock. He flew the Jumper towards Atlantis, slipping through the shields and into the docking bay, calling or a medical team to come and collect Miller. Promising to look in on her later and reassured she would be fine by Carson, he left them to it. When he made it down to the Gateroom, he couldn’t help but look around, checking for signs of damage. But, with another wave of relief he saw relatively little. ‘Well, I’m home, ‘ he called.

Before he could move a step Elizabeth was there, coming down the stairs and walking directly to him. She didn’t pause, but folded both arms around him, leaning in for a moment and he felt the tension ebb out of her as he wrapped one arm around her, confused by the public display, something she usually avoided. But sometimes she would slip up and he would wonder if she wasn't as lost at times as he felt without her.

He shied away from that thought, dependence was not his nature. The moment was over and she stepped back, ‘yes you are,’ she replied in answer to his call earlier, the relief evident in her face and voice. ‘I truly thought-‘

‘Yeah, yeah, I thought the same thing about you a minute ago,’ he didn’t like thinking about the way he’d felt up there, stuck on the Jumper whilst she faced a Wraith Hive fleet without him. ‘We gotta stop that,’ he added, with an attempt at a smile, trying to alleviate the situation.

‘I’d like that!’ she grinned, her eyes lighting up. He could have lost himself in that smile, and for a moment longer all they did was stand there, gazing at each other like they’d been apart for days instead of hours. He broke the tableau, afraid he’d kiss her in front of the entire crew if he didn’t step away.

‘So, uh, where are we?’ he asked, his tone awkward, deliberately distancing himself from her and forcing them back into the current situation. They turned together, heading for Ops, whilst Elizabeth gave him a rundown of their status. There would be weeks of repairs, but they had two ZPMs now, one a little low on power but still worth it's weight in gold. The Hive ship had been dealt with but it took time and some intelligence reports from the field before they realised that the Hive ship had been a rogue. No one, apparently, knew the location of Atlantis. Even if they did, the Wraith's numbers weren't high enough to attack Atlantis in force. The ship had been an opportunist, nothing more.


Chapter End Notes: Video: Sheppard is standing in the Gateroom and Weir walks up and hugs him (2:01/2:45 to 2:02/2:45)

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