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Author's Chapter Notes: ‘You don’t leave people in the hands of the enemy. You know that!’ he shot back. He hadn’t expected this, not from her.

Sumner touched base only once, via Sheppard’s team’s and over a radio signal sent through the Gate. They had found a settlement, friendly, quiet, able to show them how to live off the land should they need to evacuate. They knew of no alternate power sources, and there was a great deal of speculation about the new Terrans appearing in the city of the Ancients.

The Ancients weren’t a legend only in their own galaxy it seemed. One of the Athosian leaders was a Teyla Emmagen, a woman and warrior, who was more than willing to meet with Weir to discuss an alliance and trade what knowledge they had of the Ancients. The team were planning on waiting til daylight before exploring further, but the Athosian village was an ideal place to set up an Alpha base, if only temporarily whilst they searched for a solution to Atlantis’ power issues. It was perfect, their saving grace, but it was all lost within hours.

‘Major Sheppard!’ Weir came running down the steps. It seemed like only a couple of hours ago she had received Sumner’s promising report, and now Major Sheppard and his team were pouring through the Gate with a mass of huddled villagers.

‘Major! Who are these people?’

‘Refugees. We were attacked. Some of their people were taken, including some of our own men. What’s going on?’ he asked, looking around. The city was shaking, the lights flickering and a crate tumbled nearby. Weir grabbed his arm, tugging him away from the milling crowd.

‘We are in no position to take on refugees, Major! We need to evacute.’

‘Hey! Going back there is a really bad idea!’ Sheppard responded, pointing at the silent Gate.

‘We don’t have a choice! The shields are about to fail and several hundred thousand tons of ocean water is just dying to pour in here!’

His eyes widened and she could practically hear the cogs in his head whirring. He spun around a second later, pointing at one of the lads in the crowd. ‘Hey, do you know any other Gate addresses?'

‘Many!’ the boy replied.

‘Alright, c’mon,’ he grabbed the lad by his shoulder, and hustled him towards the control room.

‘I am Detu!’ the boy informed Weir brightly as he was hurried past her.

‘She’s pleased to meet you,’ Sheppard cut across him grimly.

All of a sudden the city lurched, throwing them to the floor. Crates crashed to the floor, spilling contents and a wail of fear fillied the hallways. Ford caught Weir as she fell backwards and use her counterweight to steady himself but the next lurch threw them apart.

‘The shields are failing!’ McKay’s voice cried out.

‘I’m dialling the Gate!’ responded Grodin. Sheppard rolled with Detu and caught Weir, pulling her closer, stabilising their movement and hers. Weir threw an arm over Detu, shielding him from the falling debris as Sheppard gained some traction and rose to his knees, leaning over them and pressing his shoulder against an anchored pallet of crates, grabbing hold of the webbing and praying everyone was at least as precariously safe as they were.

‘Wait!’ Weir shouted, her words aimed at Grodin, ‘we’re moving!’

He had no idea how she knew it, but as soon as McKay’s voice came back, affirming what she had said, Sheppard felt the upwards momentum of the city begin, that moment when your stomach drops and your body goes up. He held on to both woman and child as the rush increased, catapulting the city to the surface of the water.

Its spires broke through the waves first, gleaming in the sunlight. Water poured from every outside deck and terrace, streaming down the windows as Atlantis surfaced, looking upon a horizon it hadn’t seen for thousands of years.

Sun glittered on every surface, filling the city with light. The darkness was gone and for the first time the crew looked upon a sunny Atlantean day. Sheppard rose and Detu rolled to his feet, reaching down to pull Weir up with all his childish strength. 'Are you alright, Dr Weir?' he asked, breathlessly as Sheppard reached down and helped Detu pull Weir to her feet.

'Yes, Detu, thank you,' Weir replied gravely with a solemn smile at the child before her. She refuse to meet Sheppard's gaze, she could practically feel the grin she was sure was plastered on his face. They followed the crowd of Athosians and new Atlanteans alike as they slowly crowded to all the windows.

She reached out, touching the cold glass as if it to confirm the vision was real. Her other hand was still wrapped in his; but he let go as Detu wormed his way between them, staring in awe at the vast and gleaming city spread out below them.

‘I was wishing for just one more day,’ Elizabeth murmured, staring out at the spires and the piers, far in the distance, a slow smile curving her lips. ‘It looks like we’ve been given a whole lot more than that. Let’s not waste it.’ She glanced over and found Sheppard smiling back at her.

It was another two hours, one debrief and a whole lot of chaos getting the refugees settled before he found her again, on the balcony outside her office. He stormed out there, intent of tearing her reasoning to shreds.

‘What do you mean, we’re not going back!' It wasn't an auspicious start, but he as never one to hold back.

‘Major? We have no power, no shield, refugees in every corner and no idea if our people are still alive, let alone where they are. ‘

‘You don’t leave people in the hands of the enemy. You know that!’ he shot back. He hadn’t expected this, not from her. ‘As ranking military officer I-‘

‘You have no idea if going after our people will bring the Wraith right back here to our doorstep,' she interrupted him. She hadn't let Sumner ride roughshod over her just because the Airforce had spearheaded this operation and she was damned if she would let Sheppard- she hadn't expected this, not from him. 'You don’t know if there’s a spy in the Athosian ranks that brought that attack to the village in the first place, or even if that spy is here, on Atlantis. You know nothing about the Wraith except that they are an enemy even the Ancients feared. The Ancients, Jon!’

‘The rest of the Athosians don’t deserve to die because we turned our back on them over one, potential, spy. We’re gonna need friends here, and we know they’re susceptible to our weapons; even if we didn’t know that, you don't leave people behind!’

‘Okay. I get it, Jon! But you need to listen to me now. I will not authorise a rescue mission that doesn’t have at least an outside chance of success.’

‘Okay.’ It was one word, and it ended the argument in a way that left her offbalance. He nodded once and left the balcony, leaving her alone with the sea breeze and the sound of the waves far below, staring after him in confusion.

It was another hour before he could prove that a rescue mission stood a chance. The co-ordinates Ford had memorised led to a spaced 'Gate and Sheppard found himself able to pilot one of a docking bay full of Ancient ships, curved to fit through a 'Gate and therefore, an active wormhole. They were given the go-ahead.

The puddlejumper lowered from the roof, directly into the Gateroom, and Sheppard lined it up with the stone circle. ‘Be safe,’ Weir murmured as the Gate engaged and the puddlejumper shot through it, like an arrow loosed from a bow.

Sheppard barely caught the whisper over the radio. He knew, without looking, that she was standing there, watching them go. It was almost getting to be a habit with her.

The ship exited and circled close to the planet it found at the other end. In response to Sheppard’s thoughts, a holographic image appeared, superimposed on the Jumper’s forward window. With the help of the small ship they landed close to where the Athosian and AF captives were being held. Leaving the ship cloaked they headed into the lion’s den.

It was Sheppard who found Sumner, with a Wraith planting her hand in the middle of his chest and slowly draining him of each day of life. Despite the offer to end his pain, he refused, telling the Wraith he would rather die slow than give up Earth.

His courage earned him another lash of pain as more years were skimmed from his life. A fusillade of fire interrupted his torment, but the bullets had little effect on the Wraith. She simply sucked the energy from Sumner and healed herself in seconds. When Sumner saw Jon, he locked his gaze on him and gave a slow, deliberate nod.

He knew what it meant but it still took him another three precious seconds before he could pull that trigger, firing that single bullet that smashed through the Wraith's hand and shot directly into Sumner's heart. The Colonel’s misery was over, but Sheppard’s was about to begin.

They dragged him from his hiding place, out into the chamber where Sumner had died, and the husk of an Athosian they had already fed on, lay. The Wraith hissed, raising her hand, but she fell to a barrage of bullets from behind. She hit the floor and Sheppard saw Ford, weapon raised, standing behind her.

‘About damn time,’ Sheppard spun, grabbing his weapon where it had landed. ‘Where are they?’

‘Outside,’ it was Teyla Emmagen, her voice a hushed whisper. ‘Come. We must hurry.’

Sheppard nodded, grabbing one of the Wraith weapons and heading into the corridor. It wasn’t far to the Jumper, but it wouldn’t be long before someone raised the alarm either. He thought of Atlantis, the Expedition, Weir... She’ll quit worrying once we’re back, he thought to himself as the survivors piled into inside the Puddlejumper and they headed off the planet and into space.

They made it back to Atlantis in on piece. Just . Ford’s IDC dropped the shield as Weir hurried to the balcony, to watch the ship come home. Wraith fire came through first, impacting the walls and sending debris and personnel flying.

'Clear the Gateroom! Give them a few more seconds!' Weir yelled. She clutched a supporting column as another shot slammed into the steps leading up to the control room. Suddenly the Gateship emerged, shoting through the 'Gate and coming to an abrupt stop. 'Close the iris!' Weir called, hurrying down the steps to check on her team. She almost skidded to a stop at the sight of Sheppard and Ford, both grinning hugely, sitting in the cockpit. Smiling, she headed for the back of the ship as the ramp lowered and met the Athosians they had rescued.

The party was impromptu but welcomed by the expedition and refugees alike. Sheppard leaned on the balcony, exchanging a few words with Lieutenant Ford, when Weir appeared behind them, holding an assortment of cups filled with General O’Neill’s bubbly gift to the Expedition after they had landed. Ford grinned, taking his, raising his cup to Weir before disappearing into the crowd. Weir took his place against the railing, looking out over the ocean below.

‘You did well today, Major,’ she began.

‘I don’t know about that,’ he cut her off. ‘Maybe you were right, maybe if I’d left everything alone, Sumner would still be here, and the Athosians-‘

‘You did the right thing, Jon, you couldn’t have saved Colonel Sumner.

‘Yeah,’ he replied, the look in that man’s face floating in front of his for a moment. He blinked, clearing the vision and finding a pair of dark eyes gazing directly at him.

‘You have to live with that, Jon. I know. But you were following his orders; he didn’t have to vocalise them for you to hear, that’s all. And look,’ she glanced back at the milling crowd of Athosians and expedition members, tugging his arm to make him turn slightly, 'look around you.'

They were all chatting, smiling, friendships forming in front of his eyes. It was incredible, watching the two cultures merge into a single celebration of mutual survival; and suddenly, things didn’t seem so bad.

Teyla Emmagen turned, saw them watching the crowd and strode over. She had heard what Weir had told him. 'I agree, Major Sheppard,' she added, placing her hands on his shoulders and bowing her head. He eyed Ford and Weir warily, feeling odd about participating in this greeting ritual but Ford just hid his grin behind his cup and Weir waited, respectfully, for the greeting to conclude. She would, she was a diplomat after all and probably used to all sorts of cultural differences. He bent his head, touching his forehead to Teyla's and they both stood straight once more, Teyla smiling. This time Weir did grin, seeing the look on his face.

Teyla took her leave and they turned back to the ocean. Sheppard's demeanour seemed more relaxed. 'So,' she said, 'have you given any thoughts as to your team Elizabeth smiled confidently to herself, turning back to the rail. A few moments later, he joined her, his demeanor more relaxed.

‘So,’ she started again, ‘have you given any thoughts to your team?’

‘My team?’

‘You’re the ranking military officer on this base now, Major, remember?’ She raised an eyebrow, reminding him of earlier when he’d tried to pull rank on her and she hadn’t let him get away with it. ‘You’ll be leading the flagship team as well as running the military arm of Atlantis. We still need to get out there and do what we came here to do. The mission isn’t over yet.’

He nodded, staring out at the distant view and glanced sideways at her. ‘I could get us into all kinds of trouble, you know that right?’

Her laughter mingled with the sound of the waves, lifting his spirits. Grinning, Sheppard raised the cup to his lips. Today had ended better than expected, who knew what tomorrow would bring?

Chapter End Notes: Video: No link to a scene

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