'Rodney, can we get that thing off her?!' It was Sheppard, his voice urgent. He couldn’t help wondering if all he had done was throw Sam's life after Elizabeth's, on a foolhardy, pointless mission. The blonde Colonel had collapsed seconds after putting on the head device, falling to her knees. Before they could stop her, Sam had risen again, walking blindly to the apparition of Elizabeth Weir, reaching out to take her hand and the room had exploded in a blaze of light.
When it subsided, the others had found them both on the floor, apparently unconscious. All attention was on Carter, each of them still believing Weir was only an image, a projection.
'No! I don't know what it'll do, it could kill her! Her brainwaves all over the place, it's like she carrying more than person inside her head. I don’t understand!'
‘Try! I need answers, or we’re gonna lose her!’ Keller’s voice cut across his panic.
Teyla hovered next to Ronan, alternating her gaze between the drama on the floor and the image of Elizabeth which lay close by, looking almost real. Involuntarily, it seemed, she took a step towards her, almost before she realised what she was doing. She took another, then another and the Athosian warrior knelt at Weir's side, reaching out a cautious hand to touch her cheek.
She was warm.
'Elizabeth?' Even to her own ears her tone held a touch of wonderment, as if she had witnessed a miracle. 'Elizabeth!' she repeated, her voice an urgent whisper. She lay gentle fingertips on the brunette’s chest. It wasn't an illusion, the image was warm, real, solid... and she drew breath.
'Dr Keller! Dr Keller! She is alive!'
Jennifer looked up, her eyes wide and underneath her hands Sam choked, drawing in a deep breath, her heartbeat thudding fast and strong. Blue eyes fluttered open and from nearby Keller heard another painful breath, drawn in by the apparent copy of Elizabeth Weir. The doctor curled on her side, choking and gasping as if she had been pulled from the water.
Sheppard darted over, falling to his knees beside Elizabeth, sweeping a lock of dark hair away from her face. 'Elizabeth? Elizabeth!'
'Here,' she choked out, her throat constricting painfully around the word. She tried to ask what had happened but she couldn't, drawing breath was hard enough.
John looked up, his gaze searching out Keller's. 'Is Carter okay?'
Jennifer looked up, relief flooding her features and nodded. 'I need to get her up to the infirmary,' she replied as the medical team came running, dragging a crash cart and a gurney, 'but yeah, I think she'll be okay.'
'I'm fine,' Sam coughed, rolling onto her front to stare in disbelief as Sheppard slipped his arms under Elizabeth's shaking form, lifting her in one smooth motion onto the gurney. He stepped back, letting Keller give up Sam to Ronan and Rodney as she dashed to Elizabeth's side.
'It worked,' Sam croaked out, leaning heavily on Ronan, 'I didn't believe them,' she added, losing her voice towards the end.
'No talking,' Keller snapped, checking over Elizabeth, 'Kay, Gare,' she said, turning to her staff, 'get Colonel Carter up to the infirmary, I want a full work-up.'
Another gurney was suggested, but Sam shook her head, managing the walk with Ronan on one side and nurse on the other. John trailed along behind, his brain still catching up on events, his expression settling into a dark scowl.
'John?' A light, familiar voice, spoke behind him as she caught up.
'Don't say it Teyla, we don't know it's her yet, we've been duped before remember?'
'I do not think this is a trick John.'
'We'll see,' Sheppard replied, stalking along behind the gurney. He’d wanted this, hell he’d practically begged Carter for the chance, and now Elizabeth was here he didn’t believe it.
In front of him Sam stumbled and he caught up, taking her weight from Kay and sharing the burden with Ronan. He bit back a dozen questions, aware Sam was barely conscious, let alone able to answer him.
Yet again, it seemed, he was going to play the waiting game. Why the hell had he opened this can of worms in the first place?
He could only see it ending badly.