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Author's Chapter Notes: 'Not yet, we're not!' Sheppard shook him off, striding to the isolation tent, ignoring the cry of alarm behind him and ripped it open.

'Dr Weir?' Zelenka tapped politely on the open door of the gym where Teyla was showing Elizabth how to spar with a set of fighting sticks. He waited for a moment as they finished up and the two women unlocked from their current manuevre.

'Dr Zelenka. You needed me?' Elizabeth asked, turning his way and pulling her towel from the rail.

'Yes, I know you left instructions not to be disturbed this afternoon, but we have found something in one of the new labs we uncovered in sector eleven. Dr McKay was adamant you would want to see this.' In truth, Zelenka himself appeared quite excited by the new discovery.

'Very well,' she turned back to Teyla and they formally bowed out of the combat before she smiled and rolled her shoulders, easing the ache in them. 'Thank you, Teyla. Next week?'

'I look forward to it,' Teyla replied. 'You are progressing very well. One day I shall have you sparring with Ronan.'

Elizabeth laughed. 'I'm not sure about that, but it would certainly put me to the test! Are you leaving today?'

'Tomorrow morning,' Teyla replied. She was leaving for a few days with her people on the mainland.

'We'll see you when you return; have a pleasant journey, Teyla!'

'I will. Goodbye Elizabeth,' the Athosian called as Weir hurried down the hall after Zelenka. She smiled quietly to herself, glad to see the Atlantean leader had relaxed a great deal from her first few months in the Pegasus Galaxy. She felt more at home now and the lack of contact with Earth for well over a year now had led to even more personnel beginning to view this as their home. A number of Expedition personnel spent their downtime on the mainland. Small balcony gardens had begun to spring up, other materials such as wood for carving and wool or material for crafts had been bartered for from both the Athosians and other worlds that Atlantis traded with. Hydroponics was being extended and recreation areas were designated throughout the thoroughly explored parts of the city.

And, unless Teyla was very much mistaken, Dr Elizabeth Weir or an appropriate member of the Athosian settlement would soon have to preside over Atlantis' first marriage in over ten thousand years. Grodin and Clarkson had become very close, and the city's leaders were quietly marking off the three-quarter mark to when their standing orders would take over and Atlantis would declare herself an official colony.

She knew Dr Weir was confident that they would see Earth again, but she was equally weighing her options over self-governance and had questioned Teyla extensively on some of the political systems of the Pegasus Galaxy including the way the Athosian's led their people.

Atlantis and her inhabitants were in for a great deal of change.

'We found it in a stasis chamber,' Zelenka was explaining as they hurried from the transportation room to the lab in question. I've read some of the reports from the SGC, and I believe the best way to describe it would be as a human-form Replicator, only these were built by the Ancients!'

Elizabeth grabbed the scientist's arm, pulling him up short. 'Are you telling me we have a Replicator in the city?'

'In stasis, yes. There is no reason to believe he will cause trouble as long as he is kept in there and then we can analyse the risk-' he stopped as they rounded the corner and entered the lab where McKay and several other scientists were working. The stasis pod was empty and lying on the large table in the middle of the room lay the human-form Replicator. Ringed around the room were a security team, all with weapons trained on the unmoving figure.

'Rodney!' Elizabeth's sharp ccry of dismay filled the room. Sheppard, who had been standing next to the door, stepped up to her shoulder.

'I said exactly the same thing,' Jon said with weary sigh. 'I got here as the defrost cycle, or whatever it is, ended. It was too late to stop it.'

Elizabeth nodded, fixing McKay with a hard stare and striding over to the table to face him across it.' I want it in isolation, McKay, get it into a Jumper and off the planet, I want it where I can blow it out of an airlock.'

'Come on,' McKay exclaimed, 'that's easily overkill!'

'Did you read the SGCs reports on these things, Dr McKay,' Elizabeth demanded, gripping the edge of the table and leaning forward. 'They are unstoppable. I don't like to shy away from a challenge, but I want this thing off Atla-' her words choked off as the figure moved, faster than anymore thought possible, it's hands wrapping around Weir's neck. She grabbed it's wrists, choking as her knees buckled.

'Elizabeth!' John yelled. 'Open fire! Check your aim!' He dove forward, grabbing the hands of the Replicator to pry them away from Elizabeth. It had risen to it's knees now, Rodney backing up in horror, and it's back presented a broad target.

A fusillade of bullets peppered its back, the impact dislodging its grip and Jon pulled her free, dragging her back through the door and into the corridor. The scientific personnel all took cover as the second round of guards opened fire and parts of the Replicator started to collapse. Rodney darted across the room, hitting a few keys on the console attached to the Naquada generator, a standalone that had been moved into the lab to power it's systems which had been disconnected from the city's powergrid. With a whine it overloaded and the resultant EMP field blew apart the Replicator's building blocks. The figure collapsed into a pile of tiny metallic parts.

'Medic! I need a medical team down here!' Jon called over the comms. He glanced into the lab. 'Get those pieces quarantined and I want them packaged up and thrown into the nearest star, McKay!' 'But-!' 'Forget it!' Sheppard cut across him. 'I don't care what it takes, find a way. Zelenka, you're in charge of this mess. Don't let him do anything without your permission!' He looked down at Elizabeth, her hand pressed to her bruised throat, drawing in harsh breaths. He knelt next to her, lifting her her up until she was leaning back against him. Carson arrived minutes later, adminstered oxygen to help her breathing until she waved him off and stood up.

Her throat felt raw and her neck was red and heavily marked, the edges of yellow and blue just starting to set it. 'Yer goin' to have a lvely bruise there, Elizabeth. We'll get ye up to the infirmary and check yer over there,' Carson announced. She nodded, coughing again and waving Jon away.

'Stay here,' she rasped. 'Be fine.'

He nodded, turning back to his security team and sending out orders for a puddlejumper whilst McKay and Zelenka figured out the best way to permanantely incapacitate the Replicator blocks.

It was over an hour before he got the call over his comms. It was Dr Beckett, telling him to make his way to the infirmary immediately. Dread filled his gut as he raced for the medical bay and when he entered he saw a hive of activity. At the centre of it lay Elizabeth, lying pale and still on an infirmary gurney, surrounded by a quarantine tent whilst a nurse in full biohazard gear tended to her.

'Carson?' Sheppard asked breathlessly. He couldn't take his eyes of Elizabeth, barely glancing at the doctor when he came to stand at his shoulder.

'She's infected with some kind of nanites,' Carson told him gravely. 'They're replicating and massing in her brain. Every indication is that she is in some kind of REM sleep, which means-' 'She's dreaming,' Sheppard filled in. 'Aye. But if the nanites are in her brain, controlling the signals, then I think they're manipulating what she's dreaming aboot. In the past half hour, her reactions have started ta drop off an' I'm worried aboot her BP, it's starting ta dip. I think they're killing her, Jon.'

'Get them out!' he spun on Beckett. 'Why haven't you removed them from her system?' he demanded.'

'Hold on, lad,' Carson replied calmly. 'I can't. We're exploring ways of purging them from her system, but right now, nothing I have will do the job. I need McKay and his team up here once they've disposed of that Replicator. It would help to examine the pieces.'

'No!' Sheppard's tone was adamant. 'There's information banks in the laboratory, they might be able to give you the information you need, but there is no way I am authorising anyone experimenting with those Replicator blocks.'

'An' if it's the only way to get the information we need?'

'Find another way. I won't let those things infect Atlantis. Replicators are already defeating Thor's race back in our own galaxy. I won't let that happen here. Not even for Elizabeth,' he added, stepping closer to the tent, watching her sleeping face. 'She'd never forgive me,' he finished in a whisper.

He had to leave, to finish the mission, but Teyla came to take his place. 'Let me kinow if she gets worse,' he said quietly, watching her still sleeping face through the iso-tent.

'You have to go, Jon. Carson will take good care of her, and I will not leave her side until you return. She will not be alone,' Teyla reassured him, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder, her golden eyes pledging a promise.

He nodded, squeezed her hand briefly and slipped out to oversee the destruction of the Replicator, or what was left of it. When he returned, it was to a flurry of activity. 'Teyla?' he asked, shoving back an imminent sense of panic.

'She had taken a turn for the worse. I was trying to call you, but they said the radiation interefered with the signal. By the time we could reach you, you were already returning.'

'Yeah. They told me to get right down here,' he replied abstractedly.

'Major Sheppard!' Carson strode over, tapping the touchscreens that displayed the readouts of Elizabeth's condition on the wall of the room observation room Elizabeth lay in. He sighed in dismay turning back to Sheppard and Teyla. 'We're losing her,' he confided gently, laying a hand on Sheppard's arm.

'Not yet, we're not!' Sheppard shook him off, striding to the isolation tent, ignoring the cry of alarm behind him and ripped it open, stepping inside and wrapping both hands around her bare arm, skin on skin. 'Lis'beth! You've been infected by nanites. They're trying to take control of you, take over your mind. They're going to kill you, Elizabeth, they're lying to you. You need to fight them, so fight!. Please, come back,' he whispered the last words, almost like a prayer.

Hands wrapped in biohazard suits reached out, grabbed him, hauling him away. He didn't fight them, he didn't want to put anyone else at risk, but he didn't care if he was infected either. If he was, maybe he could find out how to fight them, find out how to save Elizabeth.

He wasn't infected, but his actions had sent a surge of adrenaline through her system, the nanites had fallen back and one by one they were greying out on the screen as they fell dormant. Carson wouldn't let him out of isolation whilst the scans were running, but he promised to go back and check on Elizabeth. He met Ronan, McKay and Teyla standing outside the iso-tent and just then Elizabeth rolled her head to the side and opened her eyes, looking straight at them.

'I'm back,' she whispered.

'Ye never left,' Carson reassured her with a smile. He squeezed Teyla's arm, grinning like a fool. 'I'll tell Jon you're awake. He's in isolation.' She blinked, licked her lips, trying to stay awake long enough to ask. 'I think he'll be jus' fine,' he added, reassuring her. She nodded slowly, rolling her head back to look at the ceiling as her eyes slid shut.

The moment he was out of isolation, cleared of any nanite infection, Sheppard was back at her bedside. The nanites were breaking down, her own antibodies were attacking them breaking them down. They would be of no further danger but she was in isolation all the same until Carson was sure. He apologised, but he couldn't let Jon in.

'I know, doc, it's okay. I won't breach protocol again either, I promise,' he added gravely.

Beckett nodded. 'Ah suppose ah can't blame ye,' he said, smiling.

'It was a risk.'

'Aye, but ye saved her life. We all risk our lives oot here, and you've risked yours ta save more people than jus' her. It's yer duty, an' yer nature, Major, so don' go second-guessing now,' Carson reassured him. 'There's quite a few people aware of whas goin' on with you two, an' not a single one have I heard objec'. It's helps them, ye know, to make a home here, knowin' yer doin' the same.'

Sheppard nodded, Earth was a long time gone now, and life went on. He would tell Elizabeth when she woke up and then they were going to have some time to themselves, off Atlantis, on the mainland, he'd make it happen. Somehow.

Chapter End Notes: Video: No link to scene

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