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Author's Chapter Notes: Atlantis' 'ghosts' weren't the only ones she'd fought that day.


The insistent beep is what woke her. She languidly rose to consciousness, cocooned in the warmth of another body pressed against her with an arm wrapped around her waist.

Last night flooded back in technicolour. Her and John, the argument, the bed... She closed her eyes for a moment, wishing the whole scene away. This was a mistake, she could feel it rushing over her like a storm cloud, threatening to drown everything she’d worked so hard to create. Weir had already had this conversation with herself, and when it came to the crunch she folded like a house of cards.

Reaching out, she picked up her comm, flicking it on. ‘Weir.’

‘Dr Weir?’ It was Heightmeyer. ‘I have Teyla Emmagen here in my office. Do you have a few minutes?’

Weir glanced at her clock. It was 8:30am, late for the base, very late for Weir herself. ‘Sure,’ she replied, trying to keep her voice steady, ‘fifteen minutes?’

Heightmeyer affirmed the time and signed off. Elizabeth sat up, realising two things: one, she was naked, and two, John was awake.

‘Trouble?’ he asked, any personal issues between them already put aside as he registered the concern on her face.

‘Heightmeyer,’ she replied. ‘With Teyla, she wants a few moments of my time,’ she added, slipping a sheet off the bed and wrapping it around her as she headed for the bathroom. He watched her, wondering what had changed so abruptly between this morning and last night. She came out several minutes later, her hair curling damply against her neck. When she looked his way, he took the hint, taking over the bathroom and leaving her to dress.

He came out with a towel wrapped around his hips as Weir slipped her earpiece on. ‘Lis’beth.’

‘I have to go, John.’

‘Nothing needs to change,’ the words were out before he could stop them, but it needed to be said, before this whole thing blew up out of proportion. They didn’t have the choice of transferring, they still had to work together.

She paused by the door, without looking at him. ‘It already has, John,’ and then she was gone. He didn’t have another chance to talk to her as the odd events for the next two days escalated.

She was pale; anyone with eyes could see it and a blind man could have heard it in her voice. Her headaches were increasing, and Sheppard knew from Carson that she was popping painkillers faster than anyone on base to keep ahead of the pain and on top of her duties. Everyone else was either hiding under a blanket or in a dark room, or on minimum duty. But Weir wouldn’t allow herself that, not until Atlantis was safe.

Sheppard watched her carefully, wondering how to get her to cut back and take a few hours out. It wasn’t likely, especially as she wasn’t talking to him right now. McKay and Zelenka started arguing, but Elizabeth stayed quiet, when usually she would have been verbally dragging them apart. He looked over at he, her eyes were unfocussed and she shook like a leaf in the breeze. He dived forward, calling her name, as she dropped to the floor.

Elizabeth!

She didn’t answer, and he could hear McKay babbling over the comms to the Infirmary before he shifted, lifting her into his arms. She barely responded, but he gained his feet, heading for the Infirmary; the medical team took too long. Behind him he could hear McKay’s meaningless objections to moving her, but Sheppard strode ahead, straight into the infirmary and to the only empty gurney he could see

‘Carson!’

The doctor turned, ‘oh my God! Elizabeth!’ Hurrying over, Beckett pulled her earpiece away, blood spilling as he did so. Sheppard felt his gut clench, and he leant on the edge of the gurney, his gaze sweeping the room. Ronan sat hunched over, next to Teyla’s bed. Every available space was taken up with crew members unable to either stay conscious or bear the pain. Nearby, a nurse pulled a blanket over the face of a young scientist, and Sheppard looked away, back at Elizabeth, as white as the sheets under her.

And there was nothing he could do. Not for her. Not for any of them.

Rodney was the one who cracked it in the end. The strange events that had swept through Atlantis like a storm weren’t ghosts, they weren’t glitches, they were warnings.

'What do you mean? A solar flare?'

'I mean this world is going to bathed in a solar flare large enough and strong enough to irradiate the entire surface of the planet! It'll kill every living thing here and the world be dead, the atmosphere unbreathable, probably for hundreds of thousands of years.'

'So whadda we do?' Sheppard replied. McKay rolled his eyes, the Major wasn't getting it.

'We abandon Atlantis, we get out of its way and we never, ever come back,' McKay replied.

'You're not serious! From what you've told me, we can't move everyone in time. Let alone the small matter of where we'd go. We'd need days to relocate, not hours! There must be something.. .What did the Ancients do? You told me this was a recurring event.'

'Yes, they extended the whole shield around the city, but we don't have three ZPMs! We can't do it.'
'How about adding Naquada generators, turning off everything we don't need... What about just putting the shield where we need it. Do we need to cover the whole planet or just half?'

McKay ran the numbers; but the increase their chances, they couldn't dial the Gate and evacuate anyone. It was all or nothing. And since evacuating anyone meant leaving at least half the crew behind, Sheppard made the decision.

With a head that felt like an axe was splitting it in half, Sheppard took Ronan and a Jumper, heading out around the planet to plant markers for Rodney and Zelenka to hone in on and use as enhancers for the shield. That’s if any of them lasted long enough to complete the mission.

It was a close call. Sheppard nearly passed out in the Jumper and Ronan slapped him awake. With a cracking headache he landed, stumbling out of the launch bay supported by the big Satedan who dumped him in a chair in Ops, where he could badger McKay with impunity. The scientist set the shield, increased the range on the scanners and then it was a case of waiting for the flare. The moment it happened, Rodney activated the shield and Atlantis’ world hung in a forcefield in space, like a bubble in glass.

It worked, but the shield failed seconds after the flare had ceased; Rodney shut everything possible down to save energy and the sensors showed the whales moving slowly away. Sheppard sighed with relief as Carson stuck a needle in his arm, administering a liquid painkiller. The world cleared just enough for him to issue the order for the normal shield to go up before sending everyone possible to their beds. He wove his way to the infirmary, slumping in a chair next to Elizabeth’s bed before passing out.

When he awoke, he was in the bed and Elizabeth was already gone. Nearby, Teyla was sitting up and Ronan eyed him and he slowly pushed himself to his feet.

‘Where’s Elizabeth?’

‘Her office.’

‘She would not rest,’ Teyla added, ‘although we told her Atlantis was now safe, she insisted on speaking to Dr McKay and had Ronan put you on the bed to sleep.’

At least she hadn’t just left him in the chair. Sheppard nodded, grabbing his commset and heading for the Ops centre and her office. He bounded up the stairs and into the control room. Through the glass doors, she saw him coming; he could see her squaring her shoulder, and she titled her chin up, like she did every single time she was facing a confrontation.

He wasn’t usually on the receiving end, not for a while now.

‘We have to discuss what happened last night,’ she began, before shaking her head, ‘I mean, the night before-‘

‘I get it, Lis’beth,’ John replied, letting the door swing shut as he leaned over, placing his hands on her desk. He hadn’t bothered with his gear and he stood in front her with just a black tshirt and combat trousers. He looked so good her fingers itched, but she’d argued herself down after that night, and she leant back in her chair to put some space between them.

‘That can never happen again,’ she went on.

‘Why?’

‘Because I’m your commanding office, John, because the expedition relies on both of us not be compromised, because the regulations are even more important now we’re cut off from Earth! We’re our own judge and jury out here and I will not fail these people!’

‘How the hell are we failing them, Lis’beth? You and I are both too professional too-‘

‘I know! But if one person saw or heard anything, then everyone knows and its only a matter of time before they being to wonder! Morale out here is too important these people are too important. I dragged them out here and now I’m responsible for them.’

He looked incredulous. ‘No one forced us out here, we all knew the score.’

‘I know. But still, we can’t, I can’t...’ she was out of words and he was out of patience. He didn’t understand where she was going with this or why she thought their relationship would somehow screw up her sense of duty, or his. ‘I think you’re made yourself clear,’ he said finally, ‘just quit avoiding me Lis’sbeth otherwise people are going to assume exactly the opposite and then this was for nothing.’ He turned and left, striding down the stairs and out of the Gateroom. She watched him go before she escaped to her balcony, finding solace in the crash of waves and the twilight air of the city.

Atlantis was safe, and I wasn’t at the helm, she thought to herself. Was she taking too much on, assuming that only she could bear the burden of responsibility for the expedition alone? Had she just made a colossal mistake?

No, she thought to herself. It was the right decision and she couldn’t second guess herself now, not after- Atlantis ghosts hadn't been the only ones she had fought that day. She shook her head, clearing the bad memories. Leaving her doubts out there on the balcony she headed back to her work.


Chapter End Notes: Video: Link to scene 1:05/2:45 - 1:09/2:45).

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