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Author's Chapter Notes: She was fearless in the face of new discoveries. A facet of her personality that could quickly kill him.

'Are you sure this is safe, Rodney?' Sheppard watched the two people-size capsules suspiciously. Nothing ever good just dropped out of the sky and although these two hadn’t exactly dropped, they had come from nowhere and even less was known about them.

McKay and Carson were in the room and Ford, with Beta team all standing guard outside. Elizabeth stood close to the capsules that had contained the old woman, too close in Sheppard's opinion. He cast Elizabeth a grim glance from across the pods, and she met his with a calm, unwavering gaze.

She was fearless in the face of new discoveries. A facet of her personality that could quickly kill him.

'Just think,' she had smiled, 'we could be giving them their last chance to say goodbye.'

'You're a hopeless romantic,' he had returned acidly, still uncomfortable with Elizabeth presenting herself as the first guinea pig, but she had compelling reasons and he couldn't really gainsay her on this one.

'Then you're just as hopeless,' had come the reply, 'you agreed to this too.'

Only because we think they might be husband and wife, and if they are, you're not saying your long goodbyes to
anyone but me! He hadn't given the sentiment voice but he swore she had seen it in his face.

Evn now, her eyes laughed at him although her mouth only smiled.

'Ready?' asked McKay.

Elizabeth nodded, took a deep breath and stepped forward. A light glowed, touching her face and the leader of Atlantis promptly hit the floor.

Oh yeah, her curiosity was so gonna kill him, Jon thought as he hung over her hospital bed. Carson ran around him, having given up the idea that he could shift the Major away. Under his gaze, Elizabeth's eyes fluttered before she opened them. He could see the difference immediately, she looked around as if she hadn't seen this place before, and when she looked at him, she looked through him.

God, he hated that.

Then a flicker of recognition chased across her face. 'You are.... Jon. Jon Sheppard. Elizabeth knows you.'

'Where is Elizabeth?'

'She is here. She is safe. She is sleeping.'

'And can we talk to her?' Nearby Carson had stopped fluttering around and was waiting, holding his breath and listening to her responses.

'No. If I wake Elizabeth, I will cease to be. This was not her wish. She will awaken of her own accord in some few hours. I do not have long, tell me, was I alone when you found me?'

Sheppard shook his head, 'no,' he began cautiously. 'There was another pod.'

She sat up, hands clasped in front her, lip trembling as if she hardly dare to give herself hope. 'Please, I must see it! Jon,' she caught his arm in a familiar gesture. 'please. It's very important.'

And because he was dumb enough to believe her, because, if it had been Elizabeth, he would have wanted to say goodbye ad because it was what Elizabeth wanted, he let her see the occupant of the other pod. All those reasons added up to one very big mistake.

They wheeled her to the laboratory where McKay was still tinkering, right up the capsule and Elizabeth-aka-Phoebus, as she gave her name, peered in.

'Thalan,' she whispered tremulously, running a gentle hand over the pod. She turned to Sheppard, 'from Elizabeth I know you were to host his mind as she is hosting mind. Will you still allow this? Neither of us hopes to live beyond a few hours, but it would be our chance to say goodbye.'

Gritting his teeth internally, Sheppard nodded and with that gesture, sealed his fate. For the next little while, Phoebus sat off to one side whilst McKay fussed over the second pod until it was ready to transfer to Sheppard. The light glowed, fell upon his face and then he swayed, gripping the edge of the table. Thanks to Carson's analysis, he'd boosted a neurochemical in Sheppard's system, easing the transistion from the sudden trauma that Elizabeth's brain had experienced to the wave of dizziness that Jon felt, correcting itself quickly.

Sheppard-aka-Thalan looked around the laboratory as everything came slowly into focus. Elizabeth's voice sounded and he turned his gaze on her. 'Thalan, it's me, Phoebus.'

'Phoebus?' his voice wavered uncertainly, unused to using Sheppard's vocal chords.

'Yes. These kind people have consented to host us for a few short hours, a few precious hours to say goodbye to my husband!'

'You... consented to this?' he asked of the bystanders warily.

McKay nodded, Ford watching them for any signs of suspicious behaviour.

'They've been so kind,' Phoebus was making her way towards him now, until she stood right in front of him. 'We have the chance to say goodbye. Under guard of course.'

'Of course,' he murmured, his gaze dropping to her face. Without another word she stepped forward, her hands sliding along his jaw as her mouth met his and she drew him into a lingering kiss. With polite murmurs everyone in the room looked away, except Ford, who watched the process steely eyed. He wasn't going to let this whole thing become a cock-up just because his superiors were kissing in the middle of the lab.

When they broke apart, Thalan murmured, 'this isn't what I expected.' It should have put him on guard, but didn't because, as they learned afterwards, Phoebus was very quick on her feet, add Elizabeth's instincts, skills and knowledge to that quick mind and Phoebus was suddenly a very formidable opponent.

It was moments after she was assuring him that it was her and that the Expedition had placed guards strategically at both doors, that the two of them made their move. Ford missed most of the action, Sheppard had taken him out on the way to the door.

What else could you expect of a race that had been fighting to the last man, woman and child, for over a hundred years?

They chased them through the city, Phoebus using Elizabeth's knowledge to deadly effect. It was only Teyla's quick thinking and the perfect opportunity that saved the whole day from turning into an unmitigated disaster. With Sheppard in the infirmary and confirmed as himself, they put Elizabeth in a gurney nearby and Jon sat, watching her with hooded eyes, wondering when she was going to wake up and if she would be herself when she did.

Across the infirmary, McKay's voice sounded frequently, an irritating backdrop. He'd landed himself here by standing between Phoebus and her target. He'd been the lucky one, she'd shot Ronan.

Eventually though, the events of the day caught up with him and, to the quiet sound of McKay snoring, Sheppard finally lay down and slept.

He awoke to sound of a scream. Sitting up in the bed, he turned and saw Elizabeth, shrieking and flailing. An orderly came running, but John was there first. ‘Lis’beth, LIS’BETH! Calm down!’ Behind him he heard more footsteps and Carson appeared at his elbow; he could see Rodney waking up in the other bed.

‘Carson, what the hell’s wrong with her?’

‘I don’t know, Major,’ the doctor replied, shouldering him aside. He spoke in a soothing babble of nonsense that had zero effect on Elizabeth, scanning the displays before she jerked upright, yanking out the wires. The displays went dark.

‘It’s Phoebus!’ Carson cried, ‘I don’t think she’s letting go and Elizabeth is fighting her,’ he added. Elizabeth struck out, catching the orderly on the jaw and knocking him to the floor. Carson grabbed her, wrestling with the struggling diplomat to get her to lie back down.

‘Help her!’ John yelled.

‘I can’t, Major! I don’t know how to, and anything I give her might do more damage- Dammit!’ This last as she kicked him, shoving him away from the gurney; he caught himself against John’s bed, and took a moment to catch his breath.

‘Screw this,’ Jon reached down, snatching the IV out of his arm. Across the room, Rodney was sitting up bed, watching the proceedings, wondering if he should intervene when Sheppard jumped on Elizabeth’s gurney, pinning her down. ‘Sedate her!’ he yelled at Carson.

‘It’s too risky!’

Sheppard swore and let go of her arm, drawing back his arm and slapping her sharply across the face. ‘Elizabeth! Look at me!’ She closed her eyes, refusing to comply. He cradled her head between both hands, holding her down with his weight. ‘LOOK AT ME!’

Her eyes flew open, her face contorted in desperation. ‘Jon,’ she pleaded, her voice a hoarse whisper. ‘Help me.’

‘NO!’ It was Phoebus again, her rage untempered by her imminent demise. ‘I won’t go, I won’t! NO!’

‘Just die, you bitch! Give her back to me! NOW! Elizabeth, if you can hear me, hold on okay, just hold on!’ And then she was there, determination chasing away the fear and for a moment, she stopped struggling.

‘Jon, if she won’t go, you can’t let her live-‘

‘Stop! Right there. She’s going, you’re staying. Hold on, sweetheart, hold on!’ His tone was certain, dragging her back from the darkness where she’d been forced by Phoebus. He bent down, kissed her hard and pulled away just far enough to look into her eyes. ‘Stay with me,’ he murmured.

Nearby, Carson slipped closer, taking the ends of the wires and reattaching them to the equipment. On the gurney, Elizabeth lay unmoving, her gaze fixed on Jon’s, her hands wrapped around his wrists so tight her knuckles were white. On the display he followed the traces of two minds, watching as one became progressively weaker. He glanced over at the other monitor, where Elizabeth’s original trace ran and tapped a couple of buttons. The two images merged, the computer program searching for matching patterns. Elizabeth’s pattern normalised as Phoebus’ diminished. As it reached the end, the computer merged the two images, verifying that only Elizabeth lived in her own mind now.

With a sigh of relief, Jon slipped off the gurney, leaning on the edge and wrapping both Elizabeth’s hands in his own. She rolled onto her side and stared at him, unspeaking, until he leant in and kissed her once, and softly. He moved away just long enough to grab a chair before slipping into it and taking her hands once again. She shivered and he pulled the blankets up around her shoulders.

‘Go to sleep,’ he murmured. ‘I’ll be here.’ She nodded slightly, and he lifted one hand, brushing back one dark lock from her face. She didn’t take her gaze from his face, but slowly sleep stole over her until she finally closed her eyes. Around him, he could hear Carson, treading lightly, fixing the mess and attending to the orderly, but he never looked away, leaving the others to think what they would.

Carson eventually stopped by Rodney’s bed, checking over the scientist’s vitals. ‘Ye can go in the mornin’ Rodnay. Just come back once a day and I’ll check those stitches.’ It wasn’t the first time Rodney had been stabbed, and it hadn’t really required a hospital stay, but since it had been Elizabeth who had done it, Carson was taking extra precautions to assuage any guilt she might feel. He checked Rodney’s pulse and glanced over at Sheppard and Weir. She was finally asleep, and he would check on her soon, but for now he left the two of them alone. Hot date indeed! He’d been spot on, and it wasn’t really a tremendous shock to the find the two of them together.... But still, the way Sheppard had gotten through to her, his familiarity with her, suggested a relationship that had been going on for quite some time.

‘They must’ve wanted to keep it under wraps very badly,’ he pointed out to Rodney, nodding to the pair of them.’

‘Yeah, I know, how weird is that? I mean, I get Sheppard, but Elizabeth? I thought she had more sense. This could ruin her whole career. Does he even know the damage he could do to her?’

‘My point, Rodney,’ Carson went on, cutting across his babble, ‘is that the two of them have obviously been together for some time and they managed to keep it secret. I don’t think they want the whole of Atlantis to find out just yet.’

‘It’s going to come out some time-‘

‘I mean- Rodney!- that we don’t have ta say a word? Do we?

‘What? No, of course not. I mean- Well, yes, it is their secret but-‘

‘I’m glad we agree. I’d hate to have to redo that very pretty line of stitches, but sticking your nose in where it isn’t wanted might tear them open, and wouldn’t that be a shame?’ the doctor finished pointedly, staring hard at Rodney. It had taken the metaphorical equivalent of a hammer, but he’d finally got the message and he subsided underneath his covers. Across the room, the little tableau played out well after he had gone to sleep and Carson, apart from pulling the curtain loosely around Elizabeth's bed, left them well alone.

Chapter End Notes: Video: Hospital bed scene, where Sheppard and Weir are both in the infirmary along with Rodney (covers 1:47/2:45 to 1:49/2:45)

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