Far Side of the Moon - 6/6
Pairing: John Sheppard/Elizabeth Weir
Category: Romance, Angst, Mystery
Series/Sequel: Dare all Things
Summary: John never stopped looking for Elizabeth.
Warning: Adult Fanfiction, Spoiler for all seasons
Disclaimer: No one of Stargate:Atlantis belongs to me.
Least of all Lt. John Sheppard. Damn.
Feedback: Yes, please. Every word opens a new gate.
Released: April 2012
Word Count: 5.055
The first time John got Elizabeth back he was too stunned to behave naturally. Furious at Rodney for activating the nanites in her body, shouting and arguing about the risk Rodney had taken by bringing her back, he wasn´t able to realize that she would have died otherwise. He even ordered Rodney to shut the nanites off again, and probably kill her instantly, because he knew Elizabeth would have wanted it that way. However the next second it was too late for any decision in this matter anyway. Jennifer told them that Elizabeth was conscious. His anger vanished into thin air. Seconds later, he was standing in the infirmary, silently staring at her, hurting that he was unable to be close to her, as if she was only his boss, not the woman he made love to, not the companion he had chosen to share his life with in good or in bad days.
"John?" was the first name she uttered.
Still confused, John just glared at Rodney but didn´t reply. He longed to pull Elizabeth into his arms and never let go of her again. He didn´t, though, because they weren´t alone, and because he knew she wouldn´t have liked to be exposed like that, here and now, in this delicate time.
"Rodney? What´s going on?" Breathing shakily, she reached up to the bandage around her head and pulled it off. Her hair has grown back to its full charming length but her pale face was a study of endured misery.
Lost in a whirlwind of emotions, John was unable to face her right away and asked Teyla to keep Elizabeth company and explain everything that had happened. In the meantime he made peace with Rodney. No way he could have stayed mad at the one person who had saved the woman he loved from certain death. Afterwards he made himself busy with the problems in Atlantis. This was so much easier than facing Elizabeth and his troubling feelings. Yeah, that´s me, always a coward in handling emotional stuff.
Later Teyla told him that Elizabeth was not happy with what they had done. Well! I already knew that, didn´t I? John considered moodily. And to make matters worse Rodney recommended they fly to the Replicator homeworld to steal their ZPM´s to power up the hyperdrive, and Elizabeth should come along to provide help manipulating the Replicators. John really didn´t like this crazy idea but in the end there wasn´t much of a choice. They desperately needed the energy.
Elizabeth naturally agreed to the plan, even though she knew it was possible that John would have to use the kill switch to shut her off if the Replicators should take control over her. She would do anything to save the city and its people, even sacrificing herself. Though he had seen this coming John was still deeply shocked. This is madness. I can´t let her do this. I can´t lose her.
Their friends noticed the hopelessness of the situation and left them alone to have a few moments to themselves.
"You’re gonna be OK, Elizabeth."
"Still, I would like all of you to keep a very close eye on me, and the first sign of any suspicious behavior, do not hesitate with that kill-switch."
"OK, but that’s not gonna happen..." Do you really believe I could do that? Just switch you off? Kill you myself?
"John, I mean it."
He nodded despite himself, but was refusing to give her a direct answer. He just got her back. He didn´t want to think about the possibility of losing her again, even worse, to become somehow her enemy, the one who had to terminate her.
She smiled sadly. "I´m sorry."
"You can´t be serious? This wasn´t your fault."
"I know, but..." She glanced at the glass divider, anxious not to say too much.
He wanted to shake her. Stop it. They don´t matter. Just tell me everything you want. He didn´t, though. "It´s good to have you back." It sounded lame but what else could he say.
She sighed deeply. "Just looking at your face makes me feel very...."
"You don´t have to say it."
"No, I do. I need to say this, John. It´s good to see you. It´s good to be alive."
He froze with pain, thinking about the nanites, and the future she didn´t have. This is so not fair. She doesn´t deserve this. We don´t deserve this.
The flight to the Replicators went smoothly yet he was as nervous as never before in his life. Seeing the necklace glittering at her fragile looking neck didn´t make it any better. How the hell did they get into this mess? Why did everything go so terribly wrong in their lives? When did they make the wrong choices?
At their arrival he made Elizabeth and Rodney stay inside the jumper. "You guys can guide us through the radio." The thought of her running around those...things was more than he could handle.
"Go now. It´s clear," Elizabeth urged him softly. He did, though he didn´t want to, his eyes lingering on her face until he tore himself away. Her voice accompanied him over the radio giving him and Ronon directions which way to go. Once she warned him the last second before they were running into a Replicator. He was slightly irritated by her knowledge. "Can we go now?"
With the ZPM they made it gladly back to the jumper. Yet it was too early to celebrate because now Rodney had another brilliant idea, at the risk of putting Elizabeth in danger. Certainly Elizabeth agreed to go along with the plan once more.
"We´re not doing it." John glared at Elizabeth. Don´t you dare test my patience.
"John, you know what this could mean? The Replicators fighting the Wraith."
"Forget about it. It´s not happening."
"That´s not your call," she replied coolly, playing the leader card.
"The hell it isn´t!" he raged bitterly. No way he would let her do this. No fucking way! Never mind that she was his superior.
Rodney interfered in their argument, suggesting a different plan which was less dangerous. In the end Elizabeth persuaded John, like she had managed to accomplish many times in the past.
Damn it. Why can´t I say no to her. Just order her and Rodney to fly back. Fuck the chain of command. Instead he was flying the jumper as close as possible to the significant building but ordered Rodney to stay with Elizabeth inside the jumper again.
Rodney didn´t understand. "Why?"
"To keep an eye on me," Elizabeth told Rodney, meaning she was brutally aware of her situation.
No. To keep you safe.
"You may need to activate the kill-switch on the nanites," Elizabeth stated mercilessly. "You’ll be able to keep a closer eye on me if we both stay here in the Jumper."
That´s not what I meant. John smiled sadly at Elizabeth and she smiled back. "Piece of cake," he assured, unconvincingly, concentrating on flying the jumper, trying not to feel perfectly desperate.
"I´ll be back before you know it," John promised Elizabeth, when he and Ronon left the jumper. There was so much fear in her eyes that he was frightened, too. Hearing her voice at least, directing him again, was soothing enough, but then everything went wrong.
"Hurry, John, they´re coming, and there´s hundreds of them. The Replicators have breached the field."
John and Ronon were trapped.
"They are as good as dead," Rodney noted soberly.
"We can hear you, you know," John snapped over the radio.
Elizabeth ran out to take things into her own hands and to save John of course.
"Elizabeth just left the Jumper," Rodney disclosed to John.
John swore under his breath. "Elizabeth, this is Sheppard. Do you copy?" Not a sound. "Elizabeth respond."
"You have to activate the kill switch," Ronon advised brutally.
John froze in pain. No. No. No. Not now.
"Make the call."
You have to do this. Now. "Do it," John ordered Rodney at last. But it wasn´t working. There was no response, the signal was gone. John didn´t know what to feel. They were in danger of getting captured and killed but at least he hadn´t been the one responsible for Elizabeth´s termination. She´s still alive. She´s still mine.
Fighting their way back to the jumper, John and Ronon ran into Elizabeth and Oberath.
"Elizabeth!" John shouted, caught off guard.
"Get to the jumper!" Elizabeth was stalling the leader of the Replicators.
"You´re coming with us!"
Ronon started shooting at the Replicators.
"I can´t keep them frozen much longer!"
She was right. He had to leave her behind to survive. "We´re not leaving you behind!"
Her face flinched in deepest sorrow. "If you don´t leave right now none of us will get out of here. So go! That´s an order!"
"Elizabeth!" he screamed in agony. I can´t. I can´t do this.
Finally, after one desperate glance, he turned around and ran after Ronon. He had to. He had to survive to be able to come back and save her. Through their flight to safety he never had a doubt he would come back.
So when General Carter forbade him to go after the Replicators he was devastated. "I haven´t given up on her. If there is a chance she´s still alive, I´ll find her." No. He wouldn´t give up on her. Never. Elizabeth was his heart and soul. One day he would find her. One day he would get her back. Even if he had to wait until the end of time.
The second time he got her back, he really believed that it was her. Her familiar and lovely face just popped up on the screen and made him almost spill his true feelings in front of everyone. In the end only her name came over his lips. "Elizabeth."
"Hello, John." She smiled briefly, but destroyed his illusions straightaway. "I´m not Elizabeth. Well, not the Elizabeth you knew. I have all of her memories and all of her thoughts – everything that makes her me. But I'm a duplicate. I was created by a faction of the Replicators as a means to attaining ascension."
"I...don't know what to say," he croaked. "This is all very, uh..." He felt his eyes getting wet. Damn! Fighting not to cry in front of Rodney and the men, he focused on Elizabeth´s duplicate.
"Strange? Yeah, I know."
Meeting her duplicate in person was the toughest thing ever. Facing a duplicate of himself was bad enough but having a perfect image of Elizabeth this close but in no sense getting her back was worse. He simply couldn´t believe that his Elizabeth was truly gone. "We appreciate all this, but the truth is, we came here for another reason. You were with the Replicators. What do you know about our Elizabeth, and are you willing to help us get her back?"
The duplicate took pity on him and on a walk for two through the forest she confirmed once more that his Elizabeth was dead. It didn´t help to make him believe her that she looked and sounded like Elizabeth. She even smelled like Elizabeth. Still, she confirmed that she was not. His Elizabeth was dead. Yet he longed to hug and kiss her. One kiss to prove if she even tasted the same. Sweet and strong like perfect coffee. He´d ached to hold her once more since the day she had been taken from him. Not sure if this was right or wrong, he seized the moment and kissed her passionately.
Slightly out of breath, she gaped at him. "That was unexpected."
"Having her memories, you shouldn´t be that surprised."
"I meant the...sensation of...kissing."
"Well, I have my moments...," he joked, awkwardly.
She smiled just like Elizabeth would have. "She loved you very much but I´m not her." She reached for the back of her neck and unlocked the necklace. "I think this belongs to you."
"Isn´t it only a duplicate? Like you."
"Naturally, but does it matter considering this is an artifact? Save it for her."
What for? She´s dead. Quickly, he shoved the gift that had turned into a painful remembrance into one of his jacket pockets. He couldn´t look at it. Not now. Maybe not ever again.
"So did you love her too?"
"Of course I did - I still do, and I miss her terribly."
She seized his hand and squeezed it gently. "I´m sorry."
"Yeah. I wished...I wished..."
The next second, their time together was over. The ship of the Replicators appeared. They ran. They were shot at. She stumbled and fell. He helped her up, feeling her yielding warmth. How could she feel this way as a Replicator. This is not fair. Not fair at all. He wanted her to survive. He wanted her to be safe. A vision of Elizabeth was better than no Elizabeth. But they were trapped by the Replicators and the duplicate had a plan. She didn´t want to be saved. She wanted to prove herself, even if it meant to sacrifice herself to save him, the team, and the day. In the end she was Elizabeth to perfection.
"I don´t want you doing this because you feel any less..." John noted, concerned about losing her again.
"Human?" She smiled bitterly. "But I have to do what I have to do. For Atlantis. For you. She wouldn´t want you to get hurt or killed." Now it was her who kissed him passionately on the lips. A flare - warm and memorized - raced through his body, making him feel complete again, if just for a second. He didn´t mind the others watching.
His heart flew with her in that Jumper and split into pieces when the she was shot down and killed.
Back home he was finally ready to approve the removal of her personal items – having everything shipped back to Earth - accepting her death after all.
Later he found a forgotten condom in one of his drawers and started crying. For the first time he regretted that they didn´t have a child, a little girl with her eyes and smile. He feared the lonely years to come. He feared the future without her. Yet he hoped for...something...anything. A miracle, if only to see her once more.
The third time he got her back she was not Elizabeth. She was somebody else. A Replicator called Fran. A name Rodney had given an artificial thing that pretended to be her. Someone who claimed to possess Elizabeth´s consciousness. Someone with a different face and voice. So why bother to share his feelings? It was the eyes. Those eyes which were looking right into his heart and soul. Just like Elizabeth´s.
"Um, look, we all wanna believe you are who you say you are ..."
"I understand. You have to be cautious. But it really is me, John. You just have to give me time. You'll see that ..." She paused and gave him time to reply. He didn´t. She sighed. "What really bothers me is just knowing that you will always consider me less than what I really am. We will never get back to what we had before, John."
"That's not true." Do you even know what we had before? Do you?
"Of course it is – and I don't blame you."
Maybe he didn´t trust her entirely but he didn´t want her to leave either. He wanted a chance to talk to her. The chance he had missed the last time. Soon he even considered asking her to stay. Not that he told anyone about his ambiguous feelings. Certainly not Fran.
The second he figured that Fran had betrayed him after all he was furious. "You may still think that you're Elizabeth, but you're not." He saw that she was hurt. He didn´t have the time to care. Koracen attacked him, and hurled him against a wall. He slumped to the ground, defenseless. Shit! I´m dead. That´s it.
But Fran raced over and grabbed Koracen, slamming him angrily back against the wall, pushing her fingers into his forehead, and Koracen disintegrated into tiny pieces.
John watched everything from the floor, feeling more confused than ever.
Later, after endless discussions and planning, they had left a few minutes alone together.
"I never gave up on finding you," John confessed, unashamed.
"And I never will."
She smiled the familiar but also strangely alien smile and pulled him in for a kiss.
He didn´t resist. Why should he? The kiss was bittersweet and desperate, a goodbye in every sense, the ultimate farewell.
"Take care of our home."
"There is no home without you."
"Yes, there is." Briefly she rested her hand above his heart. "Right here."
He shuddered. "Oh Elizabeth." It didn´t matter that he had finally realized that it was her beneath that alien face. His Elizabeth. Her spirit had been here with him giving him comfort one last time. But now he had to let her go even if his heart told him otherwise. For the safety of Atlantis. Because she had asked to do this.
That´s why he did nothing to hold her back when she was going through the gate and looked back at him. One last look of love before she went on to open space where she was doomed to cease to function. He imagined her body slowly drifting into eternity while he was standing frozen on the safe side. He caught himself hating her for leaving him alone. He didn´t even have a grave to mourn her properly. Her body had been taken from him like she had been taken from him. Nothing left to be buried. Nothing left to hold on to. Only faith. That moment when he did nothing to save her, he wished he could die, too.
"I guess that answers the question as to whether it was really Elizabeth," Rodney said gloomily.
John didn´t reply, but remained where he was, staring at the gate in consuming grief. It´s over. I fucked up again. Will I ever get over this and heal? Will losing her ever stop hurting? Will I ever be with her again? He turned and fled to the balcony, the one place where he´d shared so many happy moments with Elizabeth, the only place right now where he was able to keep on breathing.
In the years to come the memories of her gave him the strength to go on living, a quantum of solace, while the universe kept on spinning. Often haunted by nightmares of losing her again and again, he held on to those memories to save himself from drifting into utter darkness. When even the memories started fading away, John held on to the one dream he was having every now and then.
Elizabeth and him running through beautiful green and exhilarating nature. Laughing. Kissing. Falling. The scent of moist earth. The sensation of a mossy ground. The warmth of a bright light. Soothing cool air. Safe and sound forever. The dream gave him the illusion of not being alone in all the time he had to live without her. But then, one day, the dream changed to being horribly different.
He is running again. He is alone. He is looking for her. The sunlight burns. The greenery is blinding bright. The shadows of the mysterious trees are no comfort. He feels hot and fearful. Anxious, he climbs up a flowered hill. A sea of deep blue petals. The beautiful place where he once merged with his love. The mossy ground invites him to lie down but the scent grows painfully disturbing and the flowers turn black and crush to clouds of dust. He notices a shape in the distance waving to him. Come. I´m waiting. He stumbles across the burnt grass, screaming her name...
...to wake up in his bed feeling cold sweat covering his body. The dream faded quickly into nothingness, but the sensation of total loss stayed behind, making his heart hurt like hell. Agonized, he scrambled out of bed, groaning under the burden of his own body. Damn! He was getting old. No. Wrong. He was old. An old, lonely man in an ancient city, a man who was still looking to find the love of his life. It is time. You know what to do, don´t you?
Slowly, he got dressed and shuffled into the corridor to look for help to make this right in the end.
Unsurprisingly, he didn´t find the lab empty, even if it was past midnight.
A scrawny figure was leaning over his work. "Hello, General."
"Hello, Radek. I told you a thousand times to call me John."
"Sorry, John." The old Czech shrugged apologetically. "Old habits and such." The many wrinkles around his eyes deepened. "Are you looking for Rodney?"
"I was looking for you." A bit rusty, he parked his butt in a chair.
"Oh. What can I do for you?"
"It´s time, Radek. I´m going to die soon."
"Nonsense. You ... "
"Listen to me. I can feel it in my bones. I just know I need to go. I need to be there when it happens. The one place where I can remember her most vividly."
"Are you sure?" Radek didn´t have to ask who she was. Everybody who was friends with John had known for decades.
"Yes. Do you have the coordinates?"
"That is easy. Everything is saved to the harddrive. But Rodney.... "
"I can´t ask Rodney. He wouldn´t let me go."
"I see." Radek smiled sadly. "But I will?"
"Yes, because you understand my unsatisfied longing."
Bashful, Radek lowered his eyes. "Well, maybe I do, but that doesn´t mean...."
Rodney rushed in. Despite his age he was still a hurried and nervous man, controlled by his urges and ideas. "Zalenka, I ..." Seeing John, he stopped right in his tracks. "What are you doing here in the middle of the night?"
"Same as you," John replied, dead serious. "Looking for exquisite company."
"Funny." Rodney rolled his eyes.
"Okay. What´s going on?"
"Nothing." John wasn´t in the mood to play Rodney´s games. "I just..."
Rodney´s attention was drawn to the coordinates on the screen. He blinked once. "...want to leave me without even saying goodbye, right?" Rodney had always been too clever.
"Rodney...." He noticed that Radek was leaving in a hurry. Oh great!
"You can´t go, John. You can´t do this to me."
"Rodney." John stumbled to his feet and pulled him into a hug. "You are my best friend. We had many years together. But now I wish to die where I can feel closest to her. Can´t you understand that?"
"Of course I understand, but you can´t know... as a scientist I have to say this course of action is beyond any reason..."
"But I do know. You may call it my spidey-senses or the voice of the Wraith. Like Teyla knows certain things. Like her son." For a moment he thought with warmth about their absent friends. "I just know it´s my time."
"What shall I tell Teyla?" Rodney complained, concerned. "And Ronon?"
"The truth. I went away to die in peace."
"Comforting," Rodney wailed, shaking miserably.
"Rodney." Awkwardly, John patted his best friends shoulders, holding him tightly. "Jesus. Don´t make this harder for me than it already is."
The man who was infamous for being an annoying blabbermouth all his life just sobbed soundlessly into John´s uniform.
Two days later John had said his final good-bye to all his friends, including Clone-Carson, and was leaving the city he had called home for such a long time behind. Nobody knew that he had simply no other choice because the one dream had become unbearably horrible and he wasn´t able to sleep or rest or concentrate anymore. He had even decided to be only a passenger and let Colonel Lorne fly the jumper to his destination. Lorne, still a reliable and quiet man, didn´t talk much on their journey. John was more than grateful for that. The last moment with Rodney had been heartbreaking enough.
When the planet of the Larus finally came into sight, John´s heart skipped a beat. I made it. I´m here. This is it.
On the ground Lorne saluted properly and pulled a brave face. "It was an absolute honor to serve with you, sir."
"Thank you. Take care of them, okay?"
"I will, sir." Lorne turned and walked back into the jumper. He didn´t turn around but his shoulders slumped visibly.
John sighed unhappily. Oh Elizabeth. Letting go is harder than I have ever imagined. How did you do it? Curiously, he looked around. They had arrived at midday. The sunlight glittered beautifully in the crowns. A scent he clearly remembered led him up a flowery path, showing off the same blue petals he had seen in his dream so many times. Everything was just perfect and beautiful, like it had been back in the days. Nothing at all had changed. Just now he remembered that night was coming with light speed on this planet. Suddenly worried, he hurried along as fast as his old body was capable of. His worries were in vain because the first Larus came into sight shortly after, a man with a skin like a spruce, and hair like wood-wool.
"Hello, Treece, how are you those days?" John quipped lightly to calm his beating pulse. "How nice to meet an old acquaintance."
"Welcome back, Sheppard." Treece´s green lips curled naturally. "I always knew you´d visit our home again."
"I came here to remember how happy I´d been those days."
"With Doyen Weir, yes."
"The strong bond between you and her was obvious."
"I lost her." A sting pained his heart. For the first time ever he had said those words out loud.
"I know that, too."
"Well ... it was a long time ago. I came here to feel her presence for one final time ... before I´m ready to accept my death."
"That was the right thing to do because she is waiting for you."
"That can´t be," he startled. His heart ached with pain. "She´s dead."
"Only her body but not her spirit. The day you merged with nature your spirits were bound to this place forever."
Despite his age John blushed. "Eh...about that..."
"Do not worry." Treece´s ancient brown eyes sparkled affectionately. "It is natural, isn´t it?"
"How old are you exactly, Treece?"
His green face glowed. "I? Not very old compared to this tree."
"But compared to me?"
"Older than you think. I´m the newly elected overseer."
"Oh really? You still look like...."
"...a sapling." He bent forward and shoved the woolen hair away to show him the signs. "Not anymore."
John noticed reddish flecks behind the green ears, like leaves turning their color in the fall.
"But some people still think I´m far too young for this responsibility." Treece smiled wisely. "Come now." Together they turned down a path which led them deeper into the woods. The trees were glowing emerald-green. Everything was looking perfectly amazing on this wonderful day.
Not a day anyone wants to die, John considered gloomily. Yet this was why he had come to this special place.
"Are you serious about being with her?"
"This cave is a very sacred place. You will find her in there."
"No way." Nervously, he touched the necklace he´d been wearing since he had left Atlantis. "She died decades ago. Far, far away from here."
Softly Treece shook his head. "That doesn´t matter. Since that day her spirit stayed right here with us." He pointed into the darkness. "Only waiting for you."
"Okay." John gulped and stared into the cave. His heart was screaming. Elizabeth? Are you really in there? As if in a trance he took one step forward. "Never say never."
At first the cave was as dark and damp as it had appeared from outside but then its walls were illuminating brilliantly. His right arm was suddenly feeling like it was sparked in flames. He groaned and the light brightened, almost blinding him now, taking his breath away. "Elizabeth ... " he croaked in the stillness.
There was not a sound in return, only the air whispering softly. "Silly," he scolded himself. "This is insane. What are you thinking? Are you nuts?" Just then a strong metallic smell hit his nose, giving him goosebumps all over, and the air started cracking creepily, a strange supernatural sound. A soft humming was sneaking into his ears, tickling pleasantly.
"Jesus." The pain in his arm increased, making him kneel down, yet he grimaced with joy. "I came to be with you."
such a long time
"I know...sorry I´m late," he murmured, feeling younger, stronger, and much more alive than in years. Can humming sound like giggling? "I was never the same without you."
The humming turned higher, dazing his ears, making him taste her very essence. "Oh my God!"
The humming went off in a deafening blast and a glorious pain stabbed through his heart. "I do. I always have. I love you." His heart burst. He screamed her name, just once, and then dropped to the ground.
The light was floating his body, claiming the spirits, raising them higher and higher above, joining them forever and ever. The light turned into a fiery red ball of orange flames, exploding in a blinding flash, and was finally fading away into infinity.
John´s body remained on the ground, covered in purple leaves, while his hand was still clutching the necklace. The sapphire was glowing brightly.
Later, in the dead of night, Treece and the Larus came by and buried his body by the one tree at the cave. Treece only held back the necklace, which he hung over a twig in the tree. The sapphire remained glowing magically and the tree´s leaves went along whistling without the slightest wind blowing.
"Be at peace," Treece murmured, content, bowing his head in humble reverence to life itself.
As the moon was rising, a brilliant circle like a golden stargate, Treece and the Larus went away to leave all spirits to nature.