Never Did Run Smooth von Weirdgirl42

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Never Did Run Smooth

"How far in advance can we schedule days off?" John Sheppard asked.

Elizabeth Weir smiled and shook her head.

John placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm glad you're okay," he said. Then he turned and punched Rodney McKay in his good arm. "Nice job McKay."

Rodney rubbed the spot John had hit as he and Elizabeth watched the Major walk off.

"You know," Elizabeth said after a moment, "I never got to say thanks for what you did."

"Oh come on," Rodney scoffed, "you never really thought I wouldn't get the shield up did you?"

"That's not what I meant." Elizabeth turned and faced him. "Not everyone would have jumped in front of a gun for me."

Rodney shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah, well I realized that without you, Major Sheppard would be in charge and you know what that thought does to me." Elizabeth was about to respond but he quickly continued. "I've got to get back to the lab."

She watched his retreating form until it disappeared around a corner. She knew this was his way of saying that he didn't want to talk about what happened but her mind couldn't stop mulling over his actions during the past twenty-four hours. Elizabeth had always known there was more to the sullen scientist than the cynicism and arrogance that he showed to everyone. She had seen him act differently around Carson Beckett and once in a while around herself. The time they had spent together in Antarctica had given her a few glimpses of the real Rodney McKay.

Elizabeth recalled one night after a relatively useless day in which nothing of any value had been discovered or figured out. She had been sitting outside the main cavern staring up at the stars when Rodney had come out and sat down next to her, handing her a mug of coffee. He then proceeded to ask her questions about her life, her past, her childhood while occasionally offering his own stories. She knew at the time that he had been trying to take her mind off their lack of progress but she had been touched by his actions none the less.

Now, as she recalled her own terror in seeing Rodney step in front of Kolya's gun, Elizabeth realized that the depth of her feelings for this man were greater than she had thought before the storm.

As the last of the Atlantis residents emerged through the gate and the wormhole disengaged, Elizabeth turned and made her way down the corridors towards Rodney's lab. But as she was passing the infirmary she heard Rodney's voice and stopped.

"It's not a big deal Carson," she head him say. She knew she shouldn't eavesdrop but she stood by the door where she could listen out of sight.

"I don't understand what's wrong with you," she heard the doctor reply. "You saved the city, not to mention Dr. Weir's life apparently. Under normal circumstances we wouldn't be able to shut you up."

"You make it sound like I did something heroic."

"You did."

"No I didn't!" exclaimed Rodney. The outburst caught Elizabeth by surprise. She listened as Rodney continued his rant. "I'm not the hero. Sheppard's the hero. Sheppard did his whole mission impossible military thing, he got the power back on, he saved the day, he got the girl. All I did was hook up some wires and punch some computer keys."

Elizabeth's mouth dropped open slightly as she listened. Not only was she shocked by Rodney's downplaying of his contributions that day, but he sounded downright jealous of John. He got the girl? Everyone in Atlantis knew that Major Sheppard had it bad for Teyla, maybe he wasn't the only member of AR-1 to fall for the Athosian leader. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't hear Rodney exit the infirmary until he was standing before her.

The two of them looked at each other for a moment.

"You heard that?" Rodney asked.

"Rodney..." Elizabeth began.

But Rodney just blinked in frustration and turned on his heel.

XXXXXXXXXX

An hour later Elizabeth had looked all over Atlantis for Rodney. He hadn't been in his lab or any other lab, he hadn't been in his quarters, and he hadn't been in the commissary. She wandered a while longer through the base when she finally found him standing near the power station they had been working on during the storm. He was leaning against the rail and looking out over the ocean.

"You know," she said walking up to stand next to him, "when I watched Kolya push you against here, I can't remember the last time I was that scared."

"You and me both," replied Rodney. They were silent for several minutes before he spoke again. "I didn't mean for you to hear all that in there," he said.

"I shouldn't have been listening."

"I probably seem even more pathetic now than ever."

"You're not pathetic Rodney," said Elizabeth placing a hand on his arm. "But I don't understand why you said the things you did. You deserve as much praise as Major Sheppard for what you did. Possibly more. You figured it all out."

Rodney didn't respond right away. He watched the waves crash against the shore of the city. "I know what kind of person I am Elizabeth," he said at last. "I've never been the guy who other guys wanted to be or that women wanted at all."

"You told me once that Colonel Carter had been attracted to you."

"When did I tell you that?" asked Rodney.

"That night in Antarctica when you tried to distract me from our situation there."

Rodney stared at the water. "I never stood a chance against O'Neill. I guess there must be something about the military men."

When he said this, Elizabeth thought back to his previous comment about Sheppard getting the girl. "You're a better person than you give yourself credit for. Girls can surprise you sometimes Rodney. You never know who they'll go for."

"Give me a break. You think I don't know how people here see me?" He looked over at her, "How you see me? I know alright."

"Teyla may turn out differently," Elizabeth said quietly.

"Teyla? Why are we talking about Teyla?"

"I heard you in the infirmary. I know you and Major Sheppard both like Teyla."

"I wasn't talking about Tey...Major Sheppard likes Teyla?" Rodney's head cocked to one side.

"I think that's pretty common knowledge around..." Elizabeth trailed off as she realized what Rodney was saying. "You weren't talking about Teyla?"

"No! I mean don't get me wrong she's an attractive woman but no."

"Oh," replied Elizabeth.

There was another silence, this one much more awkward than the previous.

"What were you going to say?" asked Elizabeth.

"Me? I didn't say anything."

"Not now. When we were trying to get the lighting rods to disconnect."

"Nothing," said Rodney. "I wasn't going to say anything. I was just trying to stall cause I didn't know if it would work."

Elizabeth studied his face. "You were right," she told him.

"I usually am but what was I right about?"

"You're not a good liar." She watched as anxiety, pain, and doubt flashed in his eyes and across his face. "Tell me."

Rodney lowered his head. "Trust me, you don't want to know." With that he backed away from the rail and walked back inside the complex.

Elizabeth stood stunned for a moment then hurried after him. She caught him by the arm, "Rodney," she began.

"Look, trust me on this," he said as he continued to make his was to his quarters. "Just forget I ever said any of it."

"There's something bothering you I can see that." They reached the door to his quarters. "Why won't you talk to me?"

"You want to know?" asked Rodney his voice rising in frustration. Normally he wouldn't ever share something like this with anyone but the events of the past day had left him so emotionally and physically exhausted that he wasn't thinking quite straight.

"Yes."

"Well when you've been rejected your entire life by everyone you've ever cared about it's much easier to just forget things happen." He opened the door and moved into his room. He tried to close the door but Elizabeth caught it with her hand. Rodney moved back and Elizabeth followed him into his quarters, closing the door behind her.

"You haven't been rejected by everyone Rodney," she said.

"Oh yeah?" Rodney raised a hand and began counting off his fingers, "I was too smart for my parents to understand and they couldn't comprehend why I wanted to be a scientist instead of a something with a real future so they ignored me when I was a kid and lost contact with me when I grew up. My younger brother thought having the school geek as a brother was damaging to his reputation so he told people our last names were a coincidence. My first girlfriend went out with me on a dare from her soccer playing boyfriend. Every woman I've ever been with since then has snuck out sometime during the night once they were finished with me.

"Then I get here and I think maybe things will be different. Carson is the first real friend I've had since high school and on top of that I finally meet someone who might be the first person to actually understand and care about me in a long time but it turns out that once again I loose out to the good looking military man."

Elizabeth was shocked at his outburst. She had no idea that his personal life had been so trying. It helped a lot to explain why he was the way he was. She looked at him as he ran a hand through his hair. "I thought you said you weren't interested in Teyla," she said.

"Oh for the love of...are you really this dense?"

"Look," said Elizabeth, "just because Major Sheppard is interested doesn't mean..."

"I'm not talking about Teyla, I'm talking about you!

Elizabeth and Rodney stood staring at each other. Elizabeth's mouth opened and closed several times. Seconds passed and she could swear she could hear his heart beating in his chest. "I don't understand," she said. "Major Sheppard and I...there's nothing going on there."

"Oh come on," Rodney replied, staring at the floor. "It's not like it wouldn't make sense. The two leaders. When he thought Kolya had killed you he went nuts. And then when we met up with them I could see the relief in your face."

"Of course I was relieved. He's my friend. I care about him. But I would have been just as relieved to see Teyla, or Carson, or Ford. Trust me when I tell you that there isn't anything between me and John."

Rodney looked up at her face. "And me? Would you have been relieved to see me?"

Elizabeth felt her chest tighten at the raw emotion reflected in his eyes. If she didn't know better she would have said they even held unshed tears. "One of the only things I was grateful for during that whole time was that I was with you. So I wouldn't have to wonder where you were or if you were okay."

Rodney turned quickly away from her and rubbed at his eyes. He stood facing the opposite wall, not trusting himself to look at her.

"What were you going to say?" asked Elizabeth.

"I wasn't going to say anything."

"Rodney I know you were..." She was cut off by Rodney's lips on hers. At first she was too shocked to really respond but she quickly got her wits about her and kissed him back. All too soon however, she felt him pull back and hold her at arm's length.

"I was going to do that," he said quietly. "I didn't want to die without doing that. I mean, I didn't want to die period but I figured if we were going to die I wanted to at least have that memory. Then maybe when my life flashed before my eyes it wouldn't be all bad."

Elizabeth smiled at him, "Are you interested in another good memory?"

Before he could respond she reached up to circle her arms around his neck and this time she kissed his surprised expression. She had to admit that kissing Rodney was nothing like she had imagined it would be. For a man who had been rejected by women all his life he certainly knew what he was doing. In the back of her mind she briefly thought that if he was so good at this, what else was he good at?

This time when he pulled away he rested his forehead against hers. "Do you really think this is smart?" he asked quietly.

"You don't think it is?"

"I can think of many reasons why it isn't."

"List the main ones."

"You're the leader," Rodney began. He grinned. "Some people might say it's a conflict of interest."

"We can cross that bridge when we come to it," Elizabeth said in response.

Rodney's face became more serious, "You have someone back home."

Elizabeth moved away from him slightly.

"I would never make you choose between us," said Rodney. "I may be inconsiderate sometimes but I'd never put you in that position."

Elizabeth put a hand to his face, "I told Simon before we left that I didn't know when or if I was coming back. He said it would be better if we broke it off. He figured that if I came back we could talk."

Rodney released a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "I stand by my claim that I wouldn't have made you choose but I admit I'm glad you chose me. Technically."

"Simon is a good man, but even if we had stayed together, I would have picked you anyway. We may never get home Rodney. It would be wrong of me to expect him to cling to me. Are those the only reasons?"

Rodney reached up and took her hand that was cupping his face. Lowering their clasped hands to their sides he blinked and then stared at the floor. "No matter how often you tell me otherwise, I know what kind of person I am. There's a very good chance that tomorrow, or a week from now, or whenever, you'll wake up and wonder what the hell you're doing being with me. I can't promise you that I won't be an arrogant bastard or that I won't get on your nerves. I don't want you to end up like the other women who've gotten involved with me. I don't want you to end up hating me. Cause odds are, you probably will. Your friendship has meant a lot to me and I don't want to loose it."

Elizabeth leaned forward and captured his lips with hers. This kiss began as their others, gentle and slow, but when he felt her lips part he forgot his fears from a moment ago and grasped her face in his hands. It was minutes later when they finally pulled apart for air.

"Rodney listen to me cause I'm only going to say this once."

"With me, you're never going to say something just once."

Elizabeth smiled but continued, "I want this. You and me. I know who you are and I still want this. I'm sure there will be times when you'll feel all those things you just said, towards me. That's what happens. Nobody can escape that. But the only thing I don't want you to do is question what I feel for you. I don't want you to question your worth. At least, not around me."

"So what exactly are we doing here?" he asked.

She kissed him again briefly. "What do you think?"

Rodney pulled her against him and held her close to his chest. After a few minutes she felt him place a kiss to the top of her head. "As much as I'd like this to continue," he said softly, "I'm about to fall asleep."

Elizabeth laughed, "I know how you feel." She moved out of his arms and reached for the door handle.

He caught her hand. "Stay," he said.

At the surprised looked that crossed her features he quickly amended, "Nothing funny. I just don't want to be alone."

Elizabeth nodded. Rodney walked to his small dresser and pulled out a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. He handed them to her. "You can have the bathroom first."

Elizabeth disappeared into the bathroom. While she was gone Rodney stripped down to his boxers and white t-shirt. Elizabeth came out of the bathroom. Rodney was taken aback at how attractive she looked in his old Toronto Maple Leaf's t-shirt. Elizabeth looked at the clothing and raised an eyebrow at him.

"They're clean," he said, as if offended.

"I believe you," Elizabeth replied. "I thought I should warn you that my father was a Senator's fan. And so am I."

"I'm sorry. I really don't think this is going to work and I think it's best you leave," Rodney deadpanned.

Elizabeth nodded. "If you think that's best," she said, just as stoic. She reached the door when she felt Rodney's arms go around her.

"On second thought," he said. "It's not like we're gonna be able to watch hockey any time soon anyway."

She laughed and turned in his arms and grabbed his hand. Leading them back to his bed she crawled under the covers. He got in beside her, their noses almost touching. He reached out and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. She saw the same look in his eye that he had when Sheppard wanted to do something he thought unwise. The look he had when he was holding something back.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

Rodney paused, "Promise me you'll be here in the morning?" His voice barley above a whisper.

Elizabeth kissed his lips and then his forehead. "I promise," she said. "Now go to sleep."

The last thing Rodney thought before falling asleep was that warm milk and counting sheep couldn't hold a candle to listening to her breath.

XXXXXXX

At first they kept their new relationship a secret. Rodney's past had made him wary of allowing other people to judge his life. Elizabeth respected this and also thought that keeping it a secret would make it easier to separate their life from the work they did each day.

However, in a place like Atlantis, secrets never lasted long. After only a month of late night snacks together in the commissary and careful sneaking into each other's quarters, the city began to buzz with the rumor that Doctor McKay had hooked up with someone. John, Teyla, and Ford did their best to dispute the rumors but in the back of their minds they couldn't help but notice the subtle changes in Rodney's personality. McKay was still sarcastic, arrogant, and often a little cowardly, but there was an ease about him now that had been missing before. Altogether he was much more pleasant to be around. So while his team denied any knowledge of a relationship, they couldn't help but wonder.

Carson found himself constantly being questioned for any information he might have. But the doctor would shrug off the questions and answer, truthfully, that he knew nothing.

One night as they lay in her bed, Rodney pulled Elizabeth closer to him. "Maybe it's time we told people," he said softly.

Elizabeth turned in his arms so they faced each other. "Is that what you want?"

"Don't get me wrong, I'm still afraid that the reaction will be bad, but the rumors I've been hearing are crazy. Yesterday I overheard one of the Athosians tell Zelenka that she heard you were sleeping with Ford."

"Ford?" asked Elizabeth.

"Yes." He grinned a little. "Is it true? Have you been shacking up with the young Lieutenant?"

"Young?" said Elizabeth in anger. "Are you implying that I'm old?"

Rodney's eyes grew wide and he began to backtrack. "Of course not I was just saying that Ford's a pretty young guy. And by pretty I mean relatively and not attractively and..."

Elizabeth laughed and stopped his mouth with hers. Rodney smiled against her lips before deepening the kiss and moving to cover her body with his own.

Much later as they lay together he broached the subject again. "So what do you think?" he asked, tracing patterns on her bare arm. "Can you stand the idea of people knowing you're with me?"

"Rodney you know that was never the reason."

"I know," he said smiling. "But I also know that people may have a problem with it. We get into situations here that are less than great. You having favoritism towards me could cause trouble."

"Who says I have favoritism towards you?"

He grinned, "That wasn't the song you were singing a little while ago." He kissed the back of her neck.

Elizabeth laughed but then her face turned serious, "I want people to know. But I think the rules we have now should still apply."

"I agree."

"Well, on duty at least. Otherwise we can be a little looser with the rules. To an extent."

"No sex on the briefing table, got it."

She slapped his arm lightly, "Rodney."

"Sorry. So how are we gonna do this? Cause I don't think calling a city wide meeting would really work."

"Might be interesting though."

"Still," Rodney said, "I'd rather we come up with something else." They were silent for a moment, thinking. The Rodney smacked a hand to his forehead, "What am I thinking?" he said, "we've got like the best rumor mill ever in this city. All we'd have to do is slip up in front of one person and the whole place will know within the hour."

"Good point," said Elizabeth. "We just have to wait for the right moment."

The right moment came sooner than they expected. The next day Rodney was sitting in his lab when John walked in.

"Hey McKay, I'm supposed to tell you that one of the scientists was fooling around with a power generator and now we have no lights on level three."

Rodney sighed. "Okay I'll be right there." He began to shut down his computer when he felt John's eyes on him. "What?" he asked.

"That's it," said John. "I can't take it anymore! What the hell is wrong with you?"

"What'd I do now? I said I'd be right there."

"That's just it," continued John. "A month ago you would have ranted for five minutes about the incompetence of the junior scientists and how no one should touch anything but you."

"Well all that's true but I every time I did that you'd just roll your eyes and make some sort of sarcastic comment about me. So I figured I'd skip it this time."

"Oh no," said John pointing a finger at Rodney. "You've been like this for a while and I want to know why."

Rodney pushed passed him and began walking towards the control room. "I don't know what you're talking about."

John followed him down the hallways. "That's not going to work. I know something's up. Is it true what they're saying? Are you really getting some?"

Rodney turned towards the Major. "I wouldn't say that again if I were you."

But John didn't give up. "I think I've hit on something haven't I," he said, grinning impishly.

"Major I'm not kidding," Rodney said without looking back. "If you had any idea what you were talking about you'd stop before you made a bigger fool out of yourself."

"Wow, she must be good," said John.

Rodney stopped in his tracks and was about to let John have it when something occurred to him. He smiled slightly, "Oh this is too perfect." He walked into the control room and then across to the door of Elizabeth's office. Glancing over his shoulder he made sure John was following him. He knocked on the door and waited for Elizabeth to say `come in'. He walked into the room.

"Rodney," said Elizabeth, looking up from the file she was reading.

Rodney looked back at John who was standing in the doorway. "Major Sheppard wants to know why I've been acting strange for the past few weeks. And I thought I'd show him." He leaned down and kissed her.

John's eyes widened and his mouth dropped. He looked between Rodney's grin and Elizabeth's shocked but pleased expression then backed out of the room and went sprinting down the hall. Rodney looked at a stunned Elizabeth. "I think it's safe to say that people know now."

As they had expected, news traveled fast. By the next day everyone had heard about the budding romance of two of Atlantis's most prominent members. But unlike Rodney had feared, most of the response was positive. There seemed to be very few people with any kind of concerns. Elizabeth took this as a sign that it would be okay, while Rodney still expressed worry at the possibility of putting Elizabeth in a situation where she'd have to make a choice.

Whenever he brought this up, however, she would simply repeat that they'd cross that bridge when they came to it. Then she would run her hand through the hair on the back of his neck and he'd forget why he was worried in the first place

XXXXXXXXXX

It was just over three months later that the bridge Elizabeth feared to cross appeared before her. The day began like most others. She and Rodney joined the rest of AR-1 plus Carson in the commissary. AR-1 had a mission that day to investigate a possible Ancient outpost.

John Sheppard set down his tray and pulled out a chair next to Teyla. As he ate he observed his team's scientist walk in with the leader of the base. As John watched the two of them laugh together he shook his head and turned to Teyla.

"If I'd have known how much better he'd be, I'd have gotten him a woman a long time ago."

Teyla smiled and followed his gaze to Rodney and Elizabeth. She had to admit that John and Rodney had been getting on better in the last month. She looked back at John. "I do not believe it is a woman he needed. I think it was that woman he needed."

"Touch," said John.

At 0900 AR-1 was geared up and standing in front of the gate. John looked up at Elizabeth who was standing on the balcony of the control room.

"You have a go AR-1," she said. "Report back in 24 hours."

"Alright let's go," he said. Motioning with his arm he allowed Ford and Teyla to enter the wormhole first. Rodney looked up at Elizabeth and smiled. She smiled back and nodded her head. John put a hand on Rodney's shoulder. "Come on, the sooner we leave the sooner we come back." The two men stepped through the wormhole and the gate deactivated.

Elizabeth sat in her office just over sixteen hours later twirling a pencil in her hand. She had finished all her paperwork for the next two days but she hadn't yet gotten up and returned to her quarters.

The truth was that even before she and Rodney became involved she would have trouble sleeping when AR-1 went through the gate. Maybe it was because she had always felt the closest to the members of that team, maybe it was because they seemed to get into trouble the most. Whatever the reason, sleep had never come easily when AR-1 was off world and came even less easily when she had to go back to a bed she wasn't used to being empty.

She was about to close the file she was reading and attempt to get some sleep when the alarms began going off. She ran into the control room just in time for the on duty officer say, "It's AR-1 Ma'am."

Elizabeth's blood froze. They were eight hours early. "Lower the shield," she said. As soon as the shield was lowered Ford and Teyla same stumbling through the gate. Teyla was supporting Ford's weight and the young man was clutching his side where blood was showing. Elizabeth called for a medical team and then rushed down to meet them.

"Where's Dr. McKay and Major Sheppard?" she asked.

"They were right behind us," said Teyla. Just then an energy beam came through the gate and barley missed Teyla's shoulder.

"Get down!" cried Elizabeth. The three of them jumped out of the way.

The blasts kept coming. The control officer shouted down to Elizabeth, "We're taking hits Ma'am! We can't keep it open much longer."

"Just give them another minute!" replied Elizabeth.

"Dr. Weir," said Aidan, "if they aren't here yet they've been captured, you have to raise the shield."

Elizabeth looked at Teyla who simply looked at the floor. More blasts were coming through and one of the computers had been hit. "Raise the shield and shut down the gate!" she yelled.

As the gate deactivated Elizabeth felt her stomach turn. She switched into auto-pilot and helped Teyla lift Ford onto the waiting gurney. As he was being wheeled away she turned to the younger woman. "What happened?" she asked. "Was it the Wraith?"

Teyla shook her head. "It was no race I have ever encountered before. They came upon our camp and began firing. We made it to the gate but they had taken control of that as well. Major Sheppard held them off and ordered me to go through with Lieutenant Ford who had been hit by their weapons. They were not ten feet behind us. If they did not come through, they must have been captured or..." she trailed off.

Elizabeth nodded, not allowing herself to think of that possibility. "How many of them were there?"

"Many," replied Teyla.

"We'll send a probe and then decide what to do. You should get to the infirmary. I want Dr. Beckett to check you over."

Teyla nodded and silently left the gate room.

An hour later it was determined that whoever the unfriendly aliens were, they were either on the other side of the planet or, as Elizabeth suspected, they had gone through the gate. Either way there was no trace of Rodney or John. When it had been decided that no rescue mission was feasible, Elizabeth dismissed everyone and headed back into her office. Once the door was closed she leaned against it and slid down to the floor, silent sobs racking her body.

XXXXXXXXX

Rodney woke up and the first thing he noticed was that his head was killing him. He looked over and saw John lying next to him, still unconscious. The second thing he noticed was they weren't outside anymore. The aliens who had captured them had tied them up but Rodney could no longer feel the ropes digging into his wrists and ankles. He remembered John arguing and then some big alien hitting them both with the butt of his weapon.

He nudged John who awoke almost immediately. "Where are we?" he asked.

"I'm not sure," replied Rodney.

John put a hand to his head, "That's funny," he said, "I don't remember getting really drunk." He pulled his hand away and looked at it. "Hey, we're not tied up anymore."

"Well one point for you," said Rodney. "But that doesn't help us figure out where we are and how we get back."

Just then a door opened and a beam of light shone into the room.

"You will return to your home shortly," a voice said from the doorway.

Rodney and John squinted into the bright light and watched as a small figure moved towards them. When the figure stood directly before them Rodney spoke, "Oh my god," he said, "you're an Asgard." He looked around the now lit room and saw that they were in the control room of a ship.

"You are correct," said the Asgard. "My name is Odin."

"Wait a minute," said John. "Asgard as in the guys who saved Earth a few times?"

"Yes," replied Odin.

"Um, what are you doing in this galaxy?" asked Rodney.

"Several of your years ago while my race was fighting the replicators, my ship's hyperdrive malfunctioned and brought us to this galaxy instead of the one we had intended."

"Can't you fix it?" Rodney said.

"We have tried, and we continue to try, but so far we have been unsuccessful."

"How very Robinson family of you," muttered John. "How did you happen upon us?" he asked aloud.

"We have been observing the Neftio for some time now," answered Odin.

"The Neftio?" said Rodney.

John leaned over, "My guess in the ugly guys who tied us up."

Odin merely nodded once in confirmation. "When we saw you, we recognized you as members of the Tau'ri. We beamed you onto the ship and upon further inspection of your clothing we recognized the symbol you wear on your arm as the flag of the country of planet Earth whose people we have come to know. We had heard of the presence of Tau'ri on the planet where the ancient city now rests but you are the first confirmation we've had."

John looked at the American flag on his sleeve. "And you're taking us back to Atlantis?" he asked.

"Yes," replied Odin. "What we do wish to know however, is how it is you came to be in this galaxy."

"Well," said John, "that's an interesting story."

The rest of the trip back was spent explaining their arrival and subsequent stranding at Atlantis. Odin assured them that the Asgard remained allies of the Tau'ri and would do whatever they could to help. But he warned them that their resources were limited and therefore their help could only be minimal. The hours passed quickly and before they knew it they were flying over Atlantis.

XXXXXXXX

Carson was checking over a patient's chart when a bright light flashed. He turned and his heart almost stopped. Standing in the middle of the infirmary was Rodney and John.

"What? How?" he stumbled. "Where the hell have you been?"

John laughed, "It's a long story. But basically we hitched a ride with some old friends."

"And you're not hurt? Either of you?"

Rodney and John looked at each other. "I feel fine," said Rodney.

"Me too," said John. "How long have we been gone?"

"Nearly three days."

"We must have been unconscious a lot longer than we thought," said John.

"Well you gave us all a scare. Dr. Weir couldn't allow a rescue party, we thought you both were dead."

Rodney's face became worried, "Elizabeth," he said softly. He looked back at Carson, "Can I..."

"Yes," replied Carson, "go. I think she's in her office. But I want to check you over tomorrow."

Rodney nodded and bolted from the room towards Elizabeth's office. He raced down the hall of the base, ignoring the shocked expressions of people he passed. When he got to her office he found it empty. He ran to her quarters but that was empty as well. He looked in his quarters but she wasn't there either.

Finally, he turned down the hallway where his lab was and noticed light coming out of the room. He opened the door quietly and found Elizabeth sitting in his chair, staring at the opposite wall. She was holding one of the small machines he had been working on before he left and she was turning it in her hands.

"You should be careful with that," he said. "It took me weeks to get it to work."

Elizabeth dropped the machine and turned around.

"See," said Rodney, "now you've gone and broken it."

Elizabeth stood up and slowly walked towards him.

"Do you realize how long it's going to take for me to fix that," Rodney continued. When she was standing right in front of him he said, "I mean come on, it's not like anyone else here could figure it out."

With that Elizabeth threw her arms around his neck and hugged him fiercely. He could feel her tears wetting his shirt as he rubbed gently up and down her back. "Hey," he said softly, "it's okay."

"I made them close the gate," she said through tears. "I told them not to send a rescue mission. I thought I was killing you."

"Shh," he said. He kissed the side of her head. "I'm fine, Major Sheppard's fine. It's okay now."

This did little to calm Elizabeth. The pain and mourning she had gone through the past three days all came forward and she continued to sob into his shoulder.

"Come on," Rodney said, pulling away a little and causing her to look up at him. "I'm supposed to be the overly emotional one. We can't go switching now, everyone will get confused."

Elizabeth laughed. Then she leaned forward and kissed him, hard. He could taste the salt of her tears as he held her to him. Her hands gently brushed the hair at the base of his neck. When they finally pulled apart she laid her head against his chest. He held her close and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I love you," he whispered. So softly she wasn't sure he actually said it. She pulled back and searched his eyes. The fearfully expectant look they held told her that she hadn't imagined it.

"I love you too," she replied.

"I've never said that to a woman before," he told her, his voice shaking slightly. "I've never wanted to." He leaned down and kissed her again, this time softly and with promise. Then he cupped her face with his hands and brushed the last of her tears away. She covered his hands with her own.

"Come on," she said. "I need to see Major Sheppard and then we need to debrief. Speaking of which, how the hell did you get here?"

"Well it turns out," he replied taking her hand and leading her out of his lab, "we still have some friends in high places."

XXXXXXXXXX

Though life in Atlantis could never be what one called easy, there were no more serious incidents until the night of the one year anniversary. Elizabeth decided that the one year anniversary of their arrival at Atlantis should be a cause to celebrate, not worry about whether or not they would ever get home. With that in mind a party was planned and nearly all of Atlantis' residents, plus many from the mainland, attended.

The gate room had been decorated for the occasion and everyone had brought food. Carson had even brought out some chocolate from his secret stash. Everyone was relaxed for the first time they could remember and for just that night all thoughts of the Wraith were gone.

Rodney, Elizabeth, John, Carson, and Teyla stood overlooking the gateroom. They laughed as they watched a young Athosian woman try to teach Ford an Athosian dance step. The usually suave man was stumbling over his own feet.

"You know," said Rodney, "I always thought Ford was a coordinated guy. But now I'm not so sure."

"Oh I don't know," said John, "I think it has less to do with the dance step than it does with the person teaching him the dance step." They all looked at him. "Hey," John continued raising his hands in defense, "I'm not saying I know anything."

"No I think you're right," said Carson. "That kind of horrible dancing only happens when you're trying too hard to impress." They all cringed as Ford nearly tripped over his own feet.

Rodney looked over at Elizabeth. Though she was smiling, her face was slightly pale and there was a thin layer of sweat forming at her hair line. "Are you okay?" he asked quietly.

She turned to him. "I'm fine," she said. "I'm just still getting over that cold."

Rodney nodded. For the past few days she had been stuffed up and coughing. Though she was beginning to feel better he did not like the way she was looking right now. He pressed a hand to her forehead, "You're burning up," he said.

"Really Rodney I'm..." but as she said this she began to see spots and then everything went black.

Rodney caught her before she fell. "Carson!" he called.

The other three looked over and saw him holding Elizabeth who had passed out. "Infirmary," Carson said.

Rodney picked up Elizabeth and followed Carson towards the infirmary. John turned to Teyla, "I'm going with them. Don't let anyone worry yet," he told her.

Teyla nodded and watched as John ran off. She looked back over the party and calmed her worried face. Panic would not help anyone.

Once in the infirmary Rodney lay Elizabeth down on one of the beds. Carson immediately began to check her over. John came to stand next to Rodney, placing a hand on the other man's shoulder for support. "I'm sure she's just tired or dehydrated," he said after a few minutes.

"You're right about that," said Carson. "I'm going to hook her up to an IV. And her blood pressure is very low. But I don't think it's anything more serious than the flu." He took some blood from her arm. "I'm going to run a few tests to be sure."

Just then Elizabeth's eyes fluttered open. "What happened?" she said.

Rodney went to the side of the bed and took her hand, "You fainted," he said. "Carson thinks you might have the flu."

"Does everyone know?" she asked.

Rodney looked at John who shook his head, "I told Teyla not to let on. There's nothing seriously wrong and we didn't want anyone to panic."

"That was good," said Elizabeth, her voice still weak.

"Get some sleep lass," said Carson. "My guess is you just pushed yourself too hard getting everything ready for today. I have to go find someone to help me with the blood analysis."

Elizabeth nodded and closed her eyes. Rodney looked over at Carson, "Is it okay if I stay for a while?"

"It's alright with me."

"I think I should go tell Teyla that everything's okay," said John. "You know..." but his next words were cut off when a bright light surrounded him and he disappeared.

XXXXXXXXX

"...how she tends to worry," John finished. Then he realized that he wasn't in the infirmary anymore. He was standing before what appeared to be a window and he was looking down on the planet. "What the?" He looked around and noticed that there was something familiar about the room.

"Odin!" he called. "What the hell is going on?"

"Major Sheppard," came a voice from behind him. "I am sorry to bring you here with no warning but I'm afraid the need was great."

John looked at Odin who was sitting at a long table in the middle of the room. "You can't just go around beaming people up like that."

"When you hear the reason I believe you will be less angry."

"Fine. What was so important?"

"We believe that we have found a way to repair our hyperdrive."

"Really?" asked John. "Just like that?"

"We would require your help," Odin told him.

"Thought so," said John. "What do you need?"

"I hoped to be able to speak with Dr. McKay about the specific requirements."

"Well Dr. McKay is a little pre-occupied. And come to mention it, the leader of our base who will have to approve all of this is sick."

"I understand," said Odin. "However, in order for our plan to succeed. We would need for these negotiations to proceed with some speed. With each day that passes our ship's power decreases. I will allow you to speak with Dr. McKay and see if he is willing to come here as well."

XXXXXXXX

Back in the infirmary Rodney and Carson were staring at the spot where John had just been.

"What just happened?" asked Carson.

"I'm not sure," replied Rodney. "But I think it may have been the Asgard. Colonel Carter once told me about General O'Neill disappearing into white light by Thor."

"Well what should we do?"

"If it was the Asgard we should wait and if it wasn't them...well then I think we should panic."

"Waiting seems like the better of the two options."

They stood silently for a minute or so.

"How long do you think we'll have to wait?" asked Carson.

As if on cue another beam of light appeared and John was standing in front of them. He was glowing a light blue. "Hey guys. Can you hear me?"

"Yes," said Carson.

"Um, where are you?" asked Rodney.

"I'm a few miles above you. Odin's ship. He wants to talk to you. He thinks they may have found a way to get the hyperdrive working."

Rodney turned to Carson who just looked confused. "It's a hologram," he explained. He looked between John's form and Elizabeth who had just woken up.

"You have to go," she told him.

"Are you gonna be alright?"

Elizabeth nodded. "Go, help them. I'll be here when you get back."

"Okay, tell Odin he can beam me up or whatever," said Rodney.

"But don't give them anything without clearing it first," Elizabeth said. Rodney was going to respond when he too disappeared.

XXXXXXXXXX

Two hours later Rodney and John were beamed back to the infirmary. By this time, all of Atlantis was aware that something important was happening, but no one knew exactly what.

Much to her protest, Elizabeth was still lying in an infirmary bed. Carson insisted on keeping her there until her blood results came back. She had been joined by Ford and Teyla and the four of them were sitting in silence when Rodney and John appeared. The grin on Rodney's face leaving little doubt of the outcome.

"It could work," he said. "All they need are a few parts that we have plenty of."

Elizabeth looked to John who raised his eyebrows. "I'm not going to pretend that I understood anything that was said in the last two hours but if McKay is right, then I don't think we have a lot to lose."

"But do we have anything to gain?" asked Carson.

"In return for helping them," said Rodney, "they're willing to use what could be the only chance at getting their hyperdrive to work to take them to our galaxy. I mean, Earth's galaxy. They said they'll take a message of our existence and situation,"

"Why would they do that?" asked Elizabeth. "If it could be their only chance at using the hyperdrive."

"They seem to think that if they can get in contact with the SGC, they in turn will contact the rest of the Asgard."

"Why can't they just take us with them?" asked Ford.

"Because we don't know for sure that it will work," Rodney replied. "I looked at the hyperdrive and while I'm convinced with the help of our supplies they could get it to work once, it's still pretty well damaged."

"I had a look at it," said John, "very sketchy."

"As I was saying," Rodney continued, "hundreds of things could go wrong. It could not work at all, they could end up somewhere else entirely, they could burn up and die. It isn't safe for them to take us."

Ford turned to Elizabeth. "Let me go Dr. Weir," he said. "I'll go with them. Somebody has to go. If they make it back to Earth someone has to be able to tell the SGC what's going on here."

"I'm sorry," said John, "did you miss the burn up and die part?"

"Sir, someone has to go. The five of you are all needed here. I'm not. If I can get the SGC information about the city then maybe they can figure out how to get us home. Please, I want to feel like I've done something important here."

Everyone was silent as they waited for Elizabeth to speak. She looked at John whose solemn eyes gave away no feelings either way. She knew that John would support her decision whatever it was. Rodney was staring up at the ceiling which usually meant he didn't like the idea. Although she was aware of the constant bickering between Rodney and Ford she also knew that deep down, Rodney was fond of the young man. Teyla was easier to read, her eyes held both fear and pride. Knowing that what Ford had offered was a brave thing to do.

Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly. "You can go," she said when she opened them again. "Get your things ready."

Ford nodded, "Thank you Ma'am," he said before leaving the infirmary.

John sighed and looked down at the floor. Teyla put a hand on his shoulder. "He is only doing what he feels is right," she said.

"Yeah," replied John.

Rodney reached over and squeezed Elizabeth's hand, knowing that the decision had not been easy to make. "I have to go get the supplies the Asgard need." He leaned over and kissed her forehead in an unusual public display of affection. Then he went off to his lab.

Fifteen minutes later Ford walked back into the infirmary with a duffel bag over his shoulder. He walked over to John and Teyla. Teyla hugged him for a long moment. "Be safe," she whispered in his ear.

Ford nodded and then held out his hand to John. John took it and pulled him into a hug as well. "You better figure out a way to get us out of here," he said. They pulled apart. Then Rodney came in. He held a bag that was half full of different gadgets.

"So how does this work?" Ford asked.

John held up a small object that looked a little like a pager. "Just push this button and they'll beam up everyone touching it." He handed it to Ford. Rodney reached over and grabbed one side.

Ford looked back at Elizabeth and smiled. "Well," he said to everyone, "if we don't see each other again, it's been an honor." Then he pushed the button and he and Rodney disappeared.

XXXXXXXXX

Once everything had been hooked up and both Rodney and the Asgard engineers were convinced that it was now or never, Rodney found Ford on the bridge of the ship.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked.

"I have to," replied Ford. "It's the best chance we have of getting everyone home."

"Yes I realize why your gung-ho military personality is telling you you should do this but I want to make sure you want to do this."

"I want to do this," Ford said.

"Okay," said Rodney. He pulled a disk out of his pocket. "This disk has all the information about Atlantis and our power situation and what we would need to gate back home. If...when you get to the SGC give it to Colonel Carter. She's the only one smart enough to figure it out. If you get captured or something then...well...destroy it cause it has a lot of information we don't want our enemies to have." He pulled a GDO from his other pocket. "Use this when you figure out a way to get back. Its code is 14110742 got it?"

"14110742," repeated Ford. He took the disk and the GDO and zipped it into his vest pocket. Then he reached out and grasped Rodney's hand.

Rodney shook it. "I'll see you again soon," he said. "Cause you sure as hell better come back for us."

Ford laughed.

"Dr. McKay," came Odin's voice. Rodney and Ford both turned to see the Asgard commander walk onto the bridge. "It is time for you to return. We must attempt use the hyperdrive while there is still sufficient power."

"Yeah," said Rodney. "I'm ready." He nodded one last time at Ford and then found himself back in the infirmary. As soon as his feet touched the floor he took off to the nearest balcony and searched the sky for the ship. Then he saw a bright light appear, race across the sky, and then vanish.

"Yes!" he shouted. "It worked!"

Teyla and John came running and the three remaining members of AR-1 stood side by side, each silently praying for Aidan Ford's safety.

"Well," said John, "here's to the biggest SOS we could have possibly sent."

They stared at the sky for a while longer before returning to the infirmary.

"I think the hyperdrive worked," Rodney told Elizabeth who was now sitting up on the bed putting her shoes on.

Elizabeth looked up at him and smiled somewhat sadly, "Let's hope they get to the right place."

Rodney sat down next to her and took her hand in his. "I know how hard a decision that was for you to make," he said. "But for what it's worth, I think you did the right thing. The Asgard will take care of him." He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Did Carson say you could go?"

"Yeah," she replied.

"But," said John as he walked into the infirmary just behind Teyla, "he also said she has to rest."

"Aye that you do," said Carson walking into the room carrying her medical file. "You need to start taking better care of yourself. Especially now."

"Why especially now?" asked Elizabeth.

"Well because in about eight months you're going to have a baby."

Four mouths simultaneously hit the floor.

XXXXXXXXXX

Elizabeth woke up and blinked her eyes against the darkness. Rodney was sitting up on the edge of the bed. She could hear his ragged breathing. Instantly awake she sat up as quickly as she could, but being over seven months pregnant had a way of slowing her movements. "Hey, what is it?" she asked. Rodney turned and she saw that his face was covered in sweat and his whole body was shaking. "Are you sick?"

Rodney shook his head. "I don't know if I can do this," he said. He got up and walked over to the other side of the room.

"Do what?"

"This," he exclaimed. "The baby, everything. I just...I don't know if...I don't think I can do it."

Elizabeth was speechless. From the moment Carson had told them she was going to have a baby, Rodney had been nothing but happy. More than happy, he had been ecstatic. For weeks he went around with a smile on his face. Whenever she expressed her own doubts about parenthood he would assure her over and over again what a wonderful mother she would be. He had even been talking about turning over the position of AR-1 scientist to Zelenka so he wouldn't be going off world on a regular basis.

She stood up and walked to where he was standing. "What happened?" she asked. "Where is this coming from?" She put a hand on his shoulder put he just pulled away.

"I lied okay?" he said. "When I told you about my parents. They didn't ignore me. Actually that's not really true, my mother ignored me and everything to do with me and my father ignored me most of the time. But there were times when he didn't. I was too smart for him. My brother got his Bs and Cs and went about his way, joining the swim team and having lots of girlfriend. Such the model son. Never argued with his father about anything. Me, I was in the science club, I read a lot, and I talked too much."

"Rodney I don't..."

"He hit me Elizabeth," he voice barley audible. "From when I was ten to when I got out of high school. Not too often. Not often enough to make people wonder, but..." he trailed off and turned away from her again. "I've spent the last seven months telling myself I wouldn't be like him. But what if I can't help it? What if I turn into him?"

This time she took his arm and made him look at her. She put her hands to his face. "You're not him," she said. "There is no way you would ever do what he did."

Rodney closed his eyes and a few tears ran down his cheeks. "I would never forgive myself."

"You won't have to. Hey," she said, "look at me." Rodney opened his eyes. "You're going to be a great dad. And this little one is gonna love you so much."

Rodney placed a hand on her stomach which stuck out slightly from under the t-shirt she wore. He felt the baby move a little and his eyes lit up. Elizabeth remembered the first time she had felt the baby kick. She woke him up and told him and he insisted on staying awake until it happened again. He lay with his head resting on her stomach until he felt it. She had been afraid his face would stick in the huge open smile he wore for several minutes.

"Come on," she said. "Let's get some sleep.

XXXXXXXXX

Elizabeth stood above the gateroom. AR-3 was scheduled to return any moment. She checked her watch and as she looked back up the gate activated. "It's AR-3 Ma'am," said the sergeant at the computer.

"Lower the shield," Elizabeth said. There was always some relief when teams came back on time. The shield was lowered and two men emerged from the event horizon. One was Captain Hadley who was being held at gunpoint by another man Elizabeth didn't recognize.

Then man was instantly surrounded by soldiers but he held his weapon to Hadley's head. "I swear I'll kill him like the other three!"

Elizabeth tasted bile. The rest of AR-3 was dead. "Let him go or we'll open fire," one of the soldiers said.

"Not if you want him alive!" cried the man. "You killed fifty of my people! People I knew. Now you will watch those you know die as well."

Elizabeth now recognized the clothes the man wore. He was Genii. "There's no way out," Elizabeth said. "You can't hope to escape."

The Genii looked up and saw Elizabeth standing there. "You!" he cried. "You did this." He moved the gun away from Hadley's head and fired it at Elizabeth. At the same moment Hadley ducked out of his grasp and hit the ground as the soldiers took down the Genii.

Elizabeth felt a sharp pain in her chest and then a burning. She could hear voices but the world was going black. The last thing she remembered was the taste of blood in her mouth.

XXXXXXXXX

John Sheppard took a deep breath before turning into Rodney's lab. Rodney looked up as he entered, "What's broken now?" he asked.

John held back tears, this wasn't the time or place. "Something happened in the gateroom," he said. "Apparently AR-3 ran into a Genii who killed threes of them and then took Hadley hostage and brought him back through the gate. He..."

Rodney put down the machine he was working on and looked up at John, "What is it Major?"

"He shot Elizabeth," John finished.

"What?"

"Elizabeth was shot, in the chest."

Rodney bolted from his chair and ran down the hall towards the infirmary. Halfway there John caught him by the arm. "You can't go in there," he said.

"The hell I can't!" exclaimed Rodney. "That's Elizabeth and my kid in there."

"She went into labor. Carson and the other doctors are doing everything they can."

"It's too early," said Rodney. "She's not due for another three weeks."

"I know," said John, at a loss for words of comfort.

Rodney looked at the floor for a moment and then looked up. His eyes bright with anger. "Where is he?" he said.

"Who?"

"The Genii. Where is he?"

"Rodney..."

"John," Rodney interrupted, "tell me where he is." His voice was so altered that John realized if he didn't tell him, Rodney would lose it.

"They brought him to the holding cells," he said. Rodney nodded and turned around, heading for a transport. Not knowing what else to do John followed him.

When they got to the holding cell Rodney stopped in front of the guards. "Unlock it," he said.

One of the guards responded, "Dr. McKay, we're under orders to..."

"Just unlock the door!" Rodney yelled.

The guards looked at John who just nodded his head. They unlocked the door and Rodney entered the cell.

"Ah," said the Genii, "Dr. McKay. I had wondered..."

He was cut off by Rodney punching him in the face. "You bastard!" He hit the man again, and again, this time drawing blood from his lip and nose. The Genii fell to the floor but Rodney hauled him up by his collar and shoved him against the wall.

John came up behind Rodney and put his hands on the other man's shoulders. "That's enough Rodney," he said. "This isn't going to help them. And we need him alive."

Rodney stared at the Genii, "If they die," he said, his voice dangerously soft, "you die." With that he dropped the man and left the holding cell.

XXXXXXXXX

"What happened?" John demanded as he walked into the briefing room.

Captain Hadley was sitting at the table surrounded by various others. "He must have been watching us the entire time we were there," Hadley said. "But he didn't attack until we were at the Stargate."

"Why weren't you in a puddle jumper?" asked John.

"Sir, it was a routine mission to scope out a possible energy source only one mile from the gate's location. The planet had no signs of life before today. Because none of the members of my team possess the gene, we proceeded without a ship instead of taking an additional pilot. Once the Genii had killed the three members of my team he brought me through the gate."

"Sir," said one of the other soldiers, "the Genii has told us that he was left behind for dead on that planet approximately two days ago."

John nodded. "I want him kept on close guard at all times."

"Yes Sir."

John turned to leave but paused, "I should warn you, if anything happens to Dr. Weir or the baby, I don't think anyone will be able to stop Dr. McKay from killing the prisoner. Understood?"

"Yes Sir."

XXXXXXXXX

Carson came out of the infirmary almost two hours later. Rodney was sitting in a chair outside the room with his head in his hands. Teyla was sitting next to him with her arm wrapped around his shoulders. John sat on the floor across from them staring off into nothing. When they saw him come out, all three stood.

"Carson?" asked Rodney.

"They're fine Rodney. Both of them."

Rodney covered his face with his hands, Teyla wiped away tears, and John released a sigh of relief.

"Both of them?" Rodney said.

"Aye," replied Carson smiling, "you've got a beautiful baby girl."

"A girl?" Rodney repeated. John clapped him on the back. "I've got a daughter?"

"Yes," said Carson.

"And she's okay?"

"She's a little small but those are very strong girls you have there Rodney."

"I've got a daughter," Rodney said again. His face broke into a grin. He turned to Teyla and pulled her into a hug, spinning her around. "A daughter!" He put her down and hugged John as well. Then he looked back at Carson. "Can I see her? Both of them?"

Carson nodded. "Dr. Weir will be asleep for a while yet. But you can come meet your daughter."

"My daughter," Rodney whispered. No matter how many times he said it, it was still the best thing he had ever heard. He followed Carson into the infirmary and walked over to Elizabeth's bed while the doctor went over to the other side of the room. Leaning down Rodney kissed the sleeping woman's forehead, "Don't ever scare me like that again," he said.

Just then he heard Carson walking back over. He turned and saw his friend holding a small bundle that was moving ever so slightly. Carson placed the baby into his arms and Rodney felt all the fear and anxiety he'd ever had at the prospect of being a father melt away. John and Teyla came to stand beside him.

"She is beautiful Dr. McKay," said Teyla.

"She's perfect," Rodney said. He held his daughter and stared into her blue eyes that were looking right back at him.

John reached out and lightly touched the soft dark hair that was beginning to appear on her head. "Hi there," he said.

Rodney turned to him, "Do you want to hold her?" he asked.

"Can I?" Rodney nodded and gently passed the baby to John. "She's so tiny. Do you have a name yet?"

"Yeah," said Rodney, "if it was girl we had decided on Olivia."

John looked down at the baby, "Hi Olivia. I'm your Uncle John. Anytime your dad starts to get on your nerves with his science talk you can come talk to me." He looked over at Teyla and raised an eyebrow. She nodded and he passed Olivia to her.

"Welcome to Atlantis," Teyla said. "You are the first true Atlantian in ten thousand years."

XXXXXXXXXX

Rodney sat at his lab table staring at the machine in his hands. It was about the size of a shoebox and looked a little like a giant remote control. He had been working on it for three days and he still couldn't figure out what it did. He set the object down on the table and rubbed his eyes.

"Daddy!"

Rodney turned towards the door just in time to catch the small child as she flung herself onto his lap. "Hey Livi," he said.

"Are you busy?" she asked.

Rodney smiled, she always asked him this when she came into his lab. He knew that Elizabeth had told her to. But it had become almost a game with them, she'd ask if he was busy and he'd always reply the same way, "Not too busy for you," he said. "Where's Uncle Carson? Weren't you supposed to be with him?"

Just then Carson appeared in the doorway. "There you are," he said to Livi. He turned to Rodney, "She gave me the slip. She's fast this one."

Rodney gave his daughter a stern look, "You know you're not supposed to run away from Carson."

"I know," replied Olivia, "but I had to tell you something."

His face softened. "Really? And what was so important?"

"Uncle John and Aunt Teyla are back," she told him.

Rodney looked up at Carson. "They just gated back a few minutes ago," Carson said.

"And the power source?" asked Rodney.

"Another dead one."

"Damnit."

"Daddy!"

Rodney looked down at his daughter, "Sorry Livi. Don't tell Mom."

Olivia giggled, "Okay, can we go see them?"

Rodney stood and picked her up with him. "Yes we can. But I'm gonna have to carry you so you don't run away again."

"Okay Daddy."

As the three of them made their way to the gateroom, Rodney did his best to hide his worry. In the three years since Olivia's birth the Wraith had grown in numbers and strength. Everyone knew it would not be long before they descended on Atlantis. And after almost five years of being stranded their power and supplies were running dangerously low.

Part of Rodney wished he was still going through the gate with John, Teyla, and Brian Levine (Ford's replacement). But then he'd look at the little girl whose head was resting on his shoulder, thumb in her mouth, and he'd remember why he chose to give it up.

Olivia remained the first born Atlantian, but she did not remain the only. In the city and on the mainland, children had been born to Tau'ri, Athosians, and a few to both. Carson's wife Kaitin, who was an Athosian, was five months pregnant with their first child.

But though the children had brought joy and celebration to Atlantis, it also heightened the fear of the impending Wraith attack. People were beginning to panic and with no word from Earth, Rodney feared that only a miracle would save them.

They got to the gateroom and Rodney put Olivia down. The little girl immediately took off towards where her mother, Teyla, and John were talking. Without hesitation she jumped up into John's waiting arms.

"Well hi there Livi," said John. "Did you miss us?"

Olivia nodded, "You were gone a long time."

"Yes we were," said Teyla. "And we were on a planet with two suns and three moons."

Olivia's eyes widened. "What colors?" she asked.

"Well," said John, "one sun was yellow and one was red."

"And all three moons were blue and green," finished Teyla.

Elizabeth watched the interchange with a small smile. This was a ritual Olivia had with the two of them. Whenever they got back from a mission they would describe an interesting thing about the planet they visited. From the moment she was born, Olivia had had these two wrapped around her finger. Carson as well. Not to mention her parents. Speaking of which, she turned and saw Rodney walk up with Carson.

"So it was a dud?" Rodney asked.

"Yeah, looks like it," said John. "Zelenka said it didn't have enough juice to power a light bulb."

"Where is Zelenka?" asked Carson.

"He and Levine went back to his lab," John replied.

"I told them we'd debrief in an hour," said Elizabeth.

"We need to start thinking now," said Rodney. "This is the fifth dead power source we've had in as many months and if we don't figure something out soon we..."

"Rodney," Elizabeth cut him off and nodded her head towards Olivia, who was staring at them from John's arms.

Rodney nodded and kicked himself for saying those things in front of their daughter.

Elizabeth took control of the situation, reaching her arms out for Olivia. "Come on sweetie," she said as John passed the child to her, "it's time for bed."

"Story?" asked Olivia.

"Sure," replied Elizabeth.

Rodney leaned over and kissed Olivia's cheek, "Night kiddo," he said.

"Night Daddy."

Olivia laid her head on her mother's shoulder and stuck her thumb in her mouth. They walked back to their quarters and Elizabeth sat her down on her bed. After Olivia was born, Elizabeth and Rodney had knocked down part of the wall between her quarters and the empty one next door. This gave them two rooms and it had worked out fine so far. She changed Olivia into a pair of pajamas and then sat down on the bed next to her. "What story do you want?" she asked.

Olivia thought for a minute and then smiled, "Daddy's shield story," she said.

Elizabeth laughed, this was one of Olivia's favorite stories. "Well," she began, "it started when your daddy put an ancient device on his chest. This made him like a superhero, nothing could hurt him. Uncle John pushed him off the gateroom balcony, Aidan tried to punch him, but it didn't do anything. But the problem was, the shield won't let Daddy eat or drink, and he couldn't take it off."

"Daddy's not happy when he's hungry," said Olivia sleepily.

"No he's not," said Elizabeth. "They tried and tried to get the shield off but nothing was working."

"Were you scared?" Olivia always asked the same questions during this story, never tiring of the answers.

"I was scared. But do you remember what happened?"

"He just had to not be scared," replied Olivia.

Elizabeth smiled, "That's right. Once he wasn't scared the shield came off and he was alright again."

"And that's why it's good to be brave," finished Olivia. She began to play with the woven bracelet around Elizabeth's wrist. The bracelet was an Athosian symbol of marriage. Rodney wore one identical to it.

Soon after Olivia was born, Rodney and Elizabeth had gone to Teyla and expressed an interest in going through the Athosian marriage ritual. They felt it would mean more than simply going through the motions of an earth marriage in the far away galaxy.

"Daddy says I have to be brave," Olivia said, pulling Elizabeth out of her memories.

"What else does Daddy say?"

"He says he used to be a wuss but you made him brave." She paused, "I'm brave Mommy."

"I know you are baby. That's a very good thing. Now go to sleep. Use the radio if you need us."

"Okay," said Olivia.

Elizabeth kissed her forehead and turned out the light. When she arrived at the briefing room everyone else was already there. Rodney sat at one end next to Carson and John. Teyla was sitting across from them between Zelenka and Levine.

"She go down okay?" asked Rodney.

"Yeah," replied Elizabeth. She sat at the head of the table and looked at the dejected faces around her. "What are we looking at as far as a timeline?" she asked.

John looked at Zelenka. "Best case scenario," Zelenka said, "I'd say we have enough power for another three weeks."

"Worst case scenario?" asked Levine.

"The Wraith show up before that," answered John.

"Best estimate, how close are they?" said Elizabeth.

"Anywhere from five to eight days," Zelenka replied.

"Elizabeth," said Carson, "we have to start evacuating. We need to get as many people as possible through the gate as soon as possible."

Elizabeth rubbed the bridge of her nose. "If we leave and earth comes for us, they'll never know where to find us."

"Ford went with the Asgard almost four years ago," said John. "If they were coming, they'd be here by now."

"My people can be ready by tomorrow," Teyla told her. "But we have to tell them now."

Elizabeth looked over at Rodney who had been uncharacteristically quiet the whole time. She caught his eyes and studied them for a moment. "Can you give us more time?" she asked.

Rodney sighed. "No," he said. "At this point there isn't any way to power the shields unless another storm hits. When the Wraith come they'll wipe us out. We have to get out of here and buy ourselves some time."

"Couldn't we leave a message behind, in case Earth does come looking?"

"It would have to be a message that the Wraith couldn't figure out," said John.

"I'll think of something," said Rodney.

Elizabeth nodded and stood up. "It's getting late," she said. "Teyla I want you to go to the mainland and get your people ready. Carson, start packing up anything you need. John, Brian and I will start packing up other supplies. Wake up anyone you need. Rodney, start working on a message."

"I'm going to need the address of the alpha world," Rodney told her. Elizabeth pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote down the symbols. "Thanks," said Rodney. "You left a radio with Livi?" he asked.

"Yes," she said. "I'll check in on her in a little while. Okay," she said to everyone, "let's go."

They broke up and each went separate directions. None of them slept that night. And when the sun rose over Atlantis ships began the trips back and forth from the mainland, bringing the Athosians. Every hour another group went through the gate to the alpha world. A planet they had found the year before and had set up some basic structures in case an evacuation was ever necessary.

Elizabeth was watching a group disappear through the event horizon when Rodney came running up. "I've got it," he said. There were bags under his eyes and Elizabeth was pretty sure he hadn't eaten since the day before. He handed her a piece of paper and she read the words he had written down.

We left Earth for another galaxy.

Earth's gate was our point of origin, that we referenced all our knowledge

Now we leave again.

On Atlantis's gate...

Underneath he had written 7 chevrons that Elizabeth didn't recognize.

She looked back up at Rodney, "I don't get it," she said.

"Yes you do," he replied.

She read the words again and after a moment she realized where the chevrons were from. She smiled. "This is brilliant," she said. "Only people from earth will understand."

"And only people from the SGC will have the ability figure it out. I've made a few copies to leave around. Hopefully they won't be destroyed." He watched as the last of the group stepped through the gate. "Where's Livi?" he asked.

"Right here," came the answer from behind him. He turned and saw John and Olivia walking towards them. Olivia dropped John's hand when she saw her parents and ran to them.

"Up," he said to Rodney. Rodney picked her up. "Where we going Daddy?" she asked.

"We are going to another planet," Rodney said.

"How long?"

"I'm not sure baby. Maybe a long time."

Olivia took all this in and then looked over at John, "You come too?"

John nodded, "Oh yeah," he said, "we're all going."

"Okay," said Olivia.

"Teyla says that all the Athosians are through," John told Elizabeth.

"How many of our people are left?" she asked.

"The three of you, Zelenka, Carson, Kaitin, Levine, Dr. Howe, Franks, Lowell, Teyla, and me."

"Alright, make sure the rest of the supplies are down here. We leave in twenty minutes."

"Yes Ma'am," said John.

Twenty minutes later Rodney and Elizabeth stood on either side of Olivia, holding her hands, before the event horizon. "There's nothing to it Livi," said Rodney.

Olivia bit her lip and squeezed his hand.

"Hey," he said, squatting down to her level, "what do we always say?"

"It's okay to be scared as long as you're also brave," recited Olivia.

"That's my girl," he said, kissing her cheek.

"Okay Olivia," said Elizabeth, "Watch Carson and Kaitin."

Olivia watched Carson take Kaitin's hand and the two of them stepped through the gate. They were followed by Levine, Dr. Howe, Franks, Lowell, and Zelenka. John and Teyla came and stood next to Rodney.

"How many minutes are we at?" asked John.

Rodney looked at his watch, "35 minutes," he said. "We gotta go."

"Alright," said Elizabeth, "say goodbye to Atlantis Livi."

"Bye `lantis," said Olivia. And with that they stepped through the gate.

XXXXXXXXX

The place they had decided to stay was about a quarter mile from the Stargate. There were mountains on one side and a valley on the other. John said it would be a good place because it would be difficult for anyone to sneak up on them.

The days on the alpha world passed slowly. Once camp was set up people mostly stayed close. The children would explore some but they too never ventured far. People were scared, and there was little anyone could do to make it better.

Rodney knew that Elizabeth was becoming more frustrated with each day that passed. She spent most of her time either making sure the people had what they needed, or off by herself thinking. When around people, especially Olivia, she was upbeat and optimistic. But when he would watch her sitting alone, Rodney knew she was beginning to lose hope.

The seventh night after the evacuation Rodney walked out of their tent after putting Olivia to bed. He met up with John, Teyla, and Carson who were sitting around a fire. "How's Kaitin doing?" Rodney asked.

"She's a little worn out but she's fine," replied Carson.

John studied the face of his former team scientist. "What are you thinking?"

Rodney looked up at him, "I'm thinking that unless we figure out a food source on this planet, we're going to be in a lot of trouble. Even if we ration our supplies to the bare minimum, I'd say we have about three weeks of food left."

"My people can begin searching the forest in the morning," said Teyla.

"I'll set up some teams of our people as well," added John.

"How're things looking from your end?" Rodney asked Carson.

"Well, barring some sort of epidemic I think we should be alright for a while."

"Good. Has anyone seen Elizabeth?"

"I believe she walked in that direction," Teyla replied, pointing to the edge of the camp.

"Thanks," said Rodney. He left the fire and wandered over to where Teyla had pointed. In the dim light of dusk he was able to make out a lone figure sitting on a fallen tree, staring out over the valley that lay just beyond the camp. He walked up and sat down next to her. "Teyla and John are going to organize some teams to go look for food tomorrow. We should be able to get some idea of what's available to us."

Elizabeth nodded. "That's good."

Rodney closed his hand around hers. "You sitting alone and worrying aren't going to do us any good," he said gently.

"They're all looking to me Rodney," she replied. "I can see it in their eyes. They want answers I don't have." She paused and Rodney saw there were tears in her eyes. "I'm failing them," she whispered.

Rodney raised his free hand to her face, "You're not failing anyone. If anything it was me and the other scientists who failed them. We couldn't figure out another power source. We couldn't figure out how to stop the Wraith. You've kept everyone together. If nothing else, you've kept the people calm."

They were silent for a minute or two. "Do you know what I thought after the first day I met you?" Rodney said at last. "I thought `man, am I in trouble.' I knew that you weren't going to take my crap like most people. I knew I was in danger of letting you know me."

"You knew that after one day?"

Rodney kissed her. "Yes, but if you let that get around I'll deny it," he said with a smile.

"Well when it comes to he said, she said with us, I'm pretty sure I have the upper hand." She laid her head on his shoulder. "Have I mentioned recently that I love you?"

Rodney laughed, "No, but then again your mind's been on other things."

"You don't doubt it do you."

"No," he replied seriously. "And I'm not saying you should pretend that everything's okay. Cause I know it isn't. And I'm scared too. God knows I'm probably panicking more than anyone here, it's just in my nature. But you're right about one thing, the people are looking to you. And if you look like you have no hope, than they won't either."

"I know that. But be realistic, how long do you think it'll take before the Wraith figure out where we are? Even just by searching all the inhabitable planets they're bound to find us. We can't hide forever. I don't know how much longer I can pretend to have hope."

"Well if it means anything, I have faith in you. And that's saying something cause I don't have faith in a whole lot. What with being surrounded by incompetence my whole life."

Elizabeth smiled.

"I have faith in us. In all of us, John, Teyla, Carson, Zelenka, Livi, you."

"I know you do and that means more than you realize. But I can't shake the thought that they'll find us. And Livi, it makes me sick to think about it."

"Elizabeth, I can't promise you that the Wraith won't find us. And if they do, I can't promise that they won't get you and Livi. But I promise that if they get either of you, they'll have already had to kill me."

Elizabeth blinked back tears. "Come on," she said, standing up and reaching for his hand. "We should get some sleep before tomorrow."

Rodney allowed her to pull him up and they walked hand in hand back to the camp. After saying goodnight to John and Teyla who were still talking by the fire, they crawled into their tiny tent. Olivia was lying in the middle sleeping, so Rodney and Elizabeth lay down on either side of her. Rodney watched as Elizabeth brushed the dark hair back from the girl's face and then kissed her forehead. He reached down and pulled a blanket over all three of them.

XXXXXXXXX

The next morning Rodney woke and looked over at the sleeping faces next to him. He sat up slowly so as not to wake either one of them. He was pretty sure Elizabeth hadn't been getting a lot of sleep recently. Once outside the tent he made his way to where the supplies were being kept and grabbed an energy bar. He ate slowly, knowing it would have to last until much later in the day.

Looking around he saw that people were beginning to stir. Teyla walked over to the supply tent.

"Hey you seen John this morning?" he asked her.

"No," replied Teyla. "He said last night he was planning to get up early and walk up to the Stargate."

"He say why?"

"He thought he'd seen some wildlife in that direction several days ago. He thought it might be a possible source of food."

Rodney nodded and tore off half his energy bar. He held it out to her and she gladly accepted. They ate in silence as other people began to wander over to get their meal ration for the morning.

All of a sudden there was shouting. Teyla looked up at Rodney, "That's Major Sheppard," she said, her face going white.

Rodney shoved the rest of his food in his pocket and he and Teyla ran down the path that led to the Stargate. They got to the gate in record time and when Rodney saw what had made John yell out he didn't know whether to cry, or laugh, or just fall to the ground.

John was hugging Aidan Ford.

Next to them stood Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, Teal'c and about three other SG teams.

"Yes!" cried Rodney. He ran over to them and pulled Ford into a hug. "You son of a bitch you did it!" He moved out of the way so Teyla could hug the smiling young man.

"I take it you left this," Daniel said as she held out the piece of paper he'd left instructions on.

"Using the earth gate symbols as the number to count from on the Atlantis gate. That's pretty clever," Sam added.

Rodney grinned and pulled her into a hug as well. "What took you guys so long?" he asked when he pulled away.

"Lieutenant Ford showed up about four years ago," said Sam. "Unfortunately his timing wasn't so good. We've spent the next two and a half years at war with the replicators and then the Goa'uld. It wasn't until about fifteen months ago that we were able to really start to analyze the data you sent."

"Wait a minute," said John, "does that mean that the Goa'uld..."

"The last of the system lords have been defeated," Teal'c confirmed.

"And the replicators?" asked Rodney.

"They're still out there," said Sam. "But with the help of the Asgard we were able to effectively create a weapon that protects us. No matter what kind of modifications they make."

"So you think you could maybe get us out of here?" asked John.

"We have to set up the external power source but that should only take a half hour," replied Sam.

"We had better go prepare the people," said Teyla. John nodded and he, Aidan, and Daniel followed her back to the camp, Daniel already asking questions about the Athosians.

Rodney turned to Sam, "Do you want me to help set up the generator?" he asked.

"Actually I was hoping you'd take me to speak with Dr. Weir," said Sam. "I need to get some information from her. These guys will start getting the generator hooked up."

Rodney looked at her skeptically. Sam laughed, "Still the same McKay. Don't worry, they know what they're doing. And they can radio me if there're any problems."

Rodney nodded and they began the walk back to the camp. "So with the Goa'uld gone and the replicators not a threat, what do you do at the SGC."

"The program became public knowledge almost a year ago. While Earth has almost no idea about the war, they know that it exists. Most of the time we don't go off world except to see our allies. General O'Neill retired as soon as the Goa'uld war ended. Most of the rest of us have been decommissioned. This is my last official mission before I'm grounded. Obviously should an emergency arise we would be called back but...none of the governments are willing to risk creating a new enemy."

"You're not going through the gate anymore?" Rodney asked.

"It's been five years since you left McKay. Things change, I've changed. I got married, I have a family now."

Rodney smiled, "Yeah I know what you..."

"Daddy!"

He and Sam turned to see Olivia and Elizabeth walking towards them. Olivia ran to him and he leaned down and scooped her up into his arms. "Samantha Carter," he said, "I'd like you to meet my daughter, Olivia. Livi, this is Samantha Carter."

"From when Teal'c got stuck in the gate?" Olivia asked.

"That's right," said Rodney. He looked at Sam whose mouth was slightly open.

"You have a daughter?" Sam asked. Her face halfway between a smile and aghast. Rodney grinned, "You aren't the only one who's changed. You remember my wife?"

Elizabeth held out her hand, "Good to see you again Colonel Carter," she said.

"You too Doctor Weir. Actually it's technically Colonel O'Neill now, but call me Sam."

"Elizabeth then."

The two women smiled at each other.

"Mommy?" said Olivia. "Are we going now?"

"Soon," Elizabeth replied. She looked back at Sam, "we should be packed up in under an hour. Do you mind if I ask where you're planning to take all of us?"

"First we're going to the beta site. From there, the...I'm sorry...the Athosians?"

"Yes."

"The Athosians will be taken to another planet that we found several years ago. It is uninhabited but extremely safe and has an abundance of natural resources. As for the rest of you, well, we'll go back to Earth."

XXXXXXXXX

The next few hours flew past as the whole population of Atlantis was taken to the beta site. There they were given supplies and the Athosians were gated to their new home world.

Carson, Kaitin, and Teyla were the last to leave. Carson, like several other Tau'ri who were married to and had children with Athosians, had chosen to go with their spouses and children to the new world. Carson said goodbye to everyone then came at last to Elizabeth, Rodney, and Olivia. He kneeled down to where Olivia was standing, holding her mother's hand.

"Well Miss Olivia. I'll miss you. You be sure to keep your mum and dad in line okay?"

"Okay," replied Olivia. Then she walked forward and hugged him, tears running down her small cheeks.

"Hey now," said Carson, "don't go crying. We'll see each other again." He stood and kissed Elizabeth on the cheek. "It's been an honor."

"Likewise," said Elizabeth, her own eyes holding tears.

Carson pulled Rodney into a hug. "Now don't go getting into too much trouble," he said. "Cause I'm not gonna be there to bail you out anymore."

"I'll do my best," Rodney replied. And with that he watched as his friend helped his wife through the gate.

Teyla stood before her friends and hugged them all. She picked up Olivia and held the now fully crying girl for a moment. "Remember that if you ever need me, just tell the ancestors and they'll give me the message."

Olivia nodded and Teyla put the girl down. She immediately ran to her mother and jumped into her arms, crying into her shoulder.

When Teyla got to John they just looked at each other. "Come with us," he begged.

Teyla put a hand to his face, "I belong with my people, as you belong with yours. But I will see you again." She kissed his cheek and hugged him briefly again.

"Yeah," said John as she walked away from him. "I'm sure you will."

The rest of their hearts went out to the pair as they watched Teyla step through the event horizon.

"Come on," John said after a minute. "Let's go home."

XXXXXXXXX

Six month had passed since their return to Earth. After the press conferences, the meetings with the president and joint chiefs to assure them they had no reason to believe that the Wraith would come after them, Rodney, Elizabeth, John, Aidan, Olivia, and the rest of the former Atlantians settled into something resembling a normal life.

John and Aidan had kept their military commissions and were now training new recruits with the help of Teal'c. Rodney had decided against taking the position of head researcher at Area 51 because it would have meant moving to Nevada. Instead he took a research position at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Elizabeth had taken the job as one of the American ambassadors to the International Stargate Committee which had been set up after the declassification. She handled most of the formal write ups which meant she didn't have to be away from Colorado Springs more than once every other month.

In the end they all had stayed near where the Stargate program had begun. Aidan married one of the members of the SGC during the time after the Asgard had brought him back. Her name was Natalie Granger and she had been a doctor during the Goa'uld War. They had a two and a half year old daughter named Annie. Jack and Sam O'Neill lived there most of the year as well, when they weren't in Minnesota, with their year old son George and Cassandra Frasier who was finishing medical school. Daniel was teaching cultural anthropology to graduate students but had never married.

They would often all get together, Jack would Barbeque while the kids ran around the backyard and the adults sat on the porch, watching and talking. John was always quiet during these gatherings. Preferring to listen and observe the conversation. Olivia was still very attached to him and would often do silly things to make him laugh, which he always did. Then he'd hug her for a moment before tickling her mercilessly.

John wasn't the only one acting strange. If asked, all of them would reply that they felt content, but none could say they were really happy. In fact, Elizabeth was noticing more and more how withdrawn they were all becoming. Even, to Elizabeth's worry, Olivia.

One night after putting Olivia to bed, Elizabeth walked out into the living room and found Rodney sitting on the couch playing chess against himself. She recalled watching him and Carson playing numerous times late at night in Atlantis. Sitting down beside him she rested her head on his shoulder.

"Not as much fun by yourself is it?"

"No," replied Rodney. "But then again I am the smartest opponent I've ever faced."

"It's okay to miss him," she said. "I'm sure he misses you."

"Kaitin will have had the baby by now."

"Yeah." Rodney put a hand to his face and rubbed his eye sockets. "Why does it feel like this?" he asked softly. "I've moved before. But it's never felt this...off...wrong. Not even when they shipped me off to Russia. And I didn't even speak Russian. I spent the first year in Atlantis wishing I was home. I spent the next three resigned to never coming home. And I spent the last year trying to figure out how to get us the hell out of there. We're home now."

"We're home now," Elizabeth repeated.

"So why do I feel like this?"

Elizabeth sighed, "Because this time, we left part of our family behind."

They were silent for a few minutes, Rodney absently stroking her hair. "Elizabeth, what would you think..."

"You're the one who has to be sure," she said, cutting him off. She sat up and looked at him.

"How did you know what I was going to say?"

She reached out and traced the lines that ran across his forehead, "I've seen it in your face for a while now. But you have to be sure. I can do what I'm doing anywhere. So can John, Aidan, and Teal'c, even Daniel will find things to do. Cassie's I don't think would stay here if they all left. And I know Teal'c wishes he could see Rya'c more often but with the gate closed it's difficult. Doctors will be needed so Natalie will have things to do. Jack will go wherever Sam goes, especially if he can fish. And while Sam wishes she saw her father more, you and she are the only ones who might be unhappy."

Rodney thought about this for a moment. "You know the other day when Livi and I got back from the store and we were unloading groceries she asked me `when are we going home?' I told her we were home and she said, `no, when are we going back home?' I didn't know what to say. I told her we could never go back to Atlantis and she asked when Carson and Teyla and Kaitin were coming here. I told they weren't and she just got real quiet."

"She's been acting strange for a while now," said Elizabeth, concern masking her features.

"I know. And if leaving a job I don't really like to go find the rest of our family means she'll be back to her old self then I don't really see the choice."

Elizabeth smiled.

"What?"

"Nothing," she said. "You're just not the man I met in Antarctica all those years ago."

The next day was Saturday so they were able to gather everyone together at Sam and Jack's house without much trouble. Once there they laid out their plan. To their surprise it took very little to convince everyone. John's eyes had lit up and he looked happier than since before they'd gotten back. And it turned out that everyone was feeling a little off. With no Stargate program, the lives they were leading seemed incomplete.

They planned out everything except for one major detail which John brought up about an hour into their planning.

"How are we going to get through the Stargate?" he asked.

Jack grinned, "Leave that to me. Just be ready to go in a week. I'm gonna take a little trip."

XXXXXXXXXX

Jack walked slowly into the oval office and came to stand in front of the desk.

"Jack," said President Hayes, standing to shake his hand. "I was surprised when they said you wanted to see me." He indicated for Jack to sit down on one of the couches. Hayes sat down across from him. "I have a DOD briefing in twenty minutes so this will have to be quick but, what can I do for you?"

"Well Sir," said Jack, "remember after the war, and then after the teams from Atlantis came back when you said that earth owed us a debt of gratitude?"

"Yes..." said Hayes, wondering where this was heading.

"Well, we wanted to call in a favor."

"Who's we?"

"Myself, Sam, Daniel, Teal'c, Elizabeth Weir, Rodney McKay, John Sheppard, and Aidan Ford."

"That's quite a group. What is it exactly you want?"

"We want you to open the gate one more time."

XXXXXXX

Stepping out of the white house Jack shielded his eyes from the bright sunlight. He fumbled around in his jacket pockets before finding his sunglasses and slipping them on. He walked to the government car that had driven him here and climbed into the back seat.

"Back to the airport Sir?" asked the driver.

"No," said Jack. "Plane doesn't leave for eight hours. Can you take me to Arlington Cemetery?"

"Yes Sir."

The ride there was quiet and gave Jack time to reflect on the conversation he'd had with the president. Hayes had been willing to help. Willing to grant the request of the heroes of earth. Everything would be ready. But Jack had to say goodbye to some people first.

When they got to the cemetery Jack gave the driver directions and they made their way along a narrow road. When they stopped, Jack got out of the car and walked up a small hill. He came to stand in front of a large white headstone.

"Hey General," he said. "I wanted to tell you that we're leaving. All of us. SG1, and the guys from Atlantis. I think you of all people would understand why. You know what it's like to feel useless, to feel like your life doesn't mean anything real anymore. I thought I should tell you that your namesake is doing well. He's starting to walk and talk. You'd be real proud. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know." Jack ran his fingers over the words carved into the stone.

General George Hammond

June 19, 1945--March 3, 2006

Husband, father, grandfather, friend

He lived and died to save us all

Jack stood up strait, saluted, and then walked back down the hill towards the car. After he got back to Colorado he drove out to where Charlie was buried and said goodbye to him as well. He knew the rest of them were doing the same. Sam had flown to California to say goodbye to her brother and visit her mother one more time. Daniel was doing the same with his parents. He knew the Atlantis team had family they had to leave as well. They were leaving people behind, but he knew it was the right thing to do.

XXXXXXXXX

One week later they all stood in front of the Stargate as it powered up. They had bags full of clothes, food, and other belongings but they had left a lot behind. Sam held George in her arms, Annie Ford stood clinging to her mother's leg and Cassie was holding Olivia. Once the seventh chevron was locked they heard a voice call out from the side.

"General!"

Jack turned to see Walter Davis running up, a duffel bag over his shoulder. "Davis?" he said.

"You guys have room for one more?" he asked. "I'm not sure I want to spend the rest of my life giving tours."

Jack smiled and put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Let's go then," he said.

With that they walked up the ramp and stepped through the event horizon.

When they emerged on the other side they followed Jack down a path leading away from the Stargate. Ten minutes later they came in site of the settlement. Lodges had been built though there were still some tents here and there. Smoke was rising from fires and just beyond the camp they saw a wide lake that you couldn't see across of.

People had noticed their presence and were beginning to call out to each other. Carson came out of one lodge followed by Kaitin who held a small baby in her arms. The doctor yelled in happiness and ran to embrace his friends. He picked up Olivia hugged her as well. He shook John's hand but he could tell the major's mind was elsewhere. His eyes were scanning the camp. Searching for something.

That something walked out of a nearby lodge and froze.

"Aunt Teyla!" Olivia exclaimed.

John's face broke into a grin and he ran to her. Picking her up and spinning her around. Then to the surprise and delight of everyone watching he kissed her passionately. When they pulled apart Teyla smiled up at him.

"I take it you missed me," she said.

John laughed for the first real time since she'd left him on the beta site.

Jack leaned over to Rodney, "Who's the girl?" he asked.

"Teyla," Rodney responded.

"Ah," said Jack.

Rodney turned to Carson who had his arm around Kaitin and the baby, a look of pride on his face. "Just tell me it has her looks," Rodney said.

Kaitin laughed and held out the child, "This is Matthias," she said.

Rodney took the baby in his arms, "Hey there Matthias. I'm your uncle Rodney and I guess I get to let you get away with everything like your father did with my kid." He passed the little Matthias back to his mother.

Then there was much talking and catching up and plans were made for sleeping arrangements although from the look of things with John and Teyla, they had brought one too many tents. Walter Davis was talking with Sam about how he found out about their plan and decided to take a chance. Daniel began talking to Kaitin about the Athosian culture. Natalie, Cassie and Carson began planning their medical lodge. Olivia was running over to get a hug from her Aunt Teyla and to introduce her to Annie. And Jack, Teal'c, and Aidan were plotting out which looked like the best fishing spots on the lake.

Rodney stepped up beside Elizabeth and put his arm around her shoulders. "Now this feels right," she said.

"Yeah," he replied. "Who'd have thought we'd have to go halfway across the galaxy, to a place we'd never been, in order to finally get home."

The End

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Having left Atlantis to go to college in no way meant Alisa McKay's life would...

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Apologies by FumblesMcStupid 13+
Shock horror! McKay apologises! Rodney and Radek have a chat about fears.