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12 May 2012 @ 11:16 am
Come Away to the Slaughter (Come Away to the Water) - Part IV  
Title: Come Away to the Slaughter (Come Away to the Water)
Fandoms: Stargate: Atlantis/Hawaii Five-0
Pairings: John/Elizabeth, Danny/OC, Ronon/Teyla, Steve/Kono, minor Cadman/Lorne
Rating: R for violence, scary situations, and language
Summary: When a zombie plague spreads through Hawaii (and the rest of the world), the 5-0 team has to make difficult decisions and flee their homes. Coming across a Stargate, but not understanding what it is, they have to choose between facing the horrors on their planet or escaping to somewhere unknown. When they end up in the Pegasus Galaxy, they think they're somewhat safe... until Atlantis falls and they're on the run again, this time with new friends and no idea where to go.
A/N: The biggest of thanks to [info]citymusings for a) putting up with my insanity, b) dealing with a story that involved zombies, c) cheerleading of the highest order, and d) beta-ing this beast. This would not have gotten done without you, my dear.
A/N 2: Song referenced somewhere near the end is "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri.
Disclaimer: Gabby is the only main character that belongs to me.
A/N 3: Anybody reading my story "For This Dance We'll Move with Each Other" will recognize Gabby. She is, in fact, the same character. This is just an alternate way for her and Danny to meet.
Disclaimer: Gabby is the only character that belongs to me. Everyone else belongs to their respective creators and I'm just playing with them.


Gabby floated back up to consciousness slowly, and as her mind began to grab on to more coherent thoughts, she realized that the way she was feeling wasn’t completely unfamiliar. It had been a long time indeed, but she remembered that this was how she felt whenever she had been injured and managed to survive a mission. Rescuing Danny and Elizabeth came back to her in bits and pieces, and by the time her eyes started to flutter open, she could recall the entire trip. It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the low lighting, but then she found herself staring up at the ceiling of the infirmary, the hums and beeps around her oddly comforting.

“How are you feeling?”

She turned her head to the side to see Elizabeth sitting in a chair next to her bed. Gabby studied her friend for a moment, letting her eyes trace the lines in her face. She looked older, but Gabby couldn’t imagine that her two years away from Atlantis had been easy. Her hair was longer as well. She had changed her clothes, though, and it was reassuring to see Elizabeth back in the red shirt and black pants she had always worn on Atlantis. It made things seem right again.

“A little drowsy,” she answered honestly. “I hear Carson and his drugs can have that effect, though. Enough about me. How are you?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “I’m...I’m here. Which is much better than where I was before.” She paused. “I really didn’t think I’d see any of you ever again.”

“The Replicators told us you were dead.”

The former leader of Atlantis let out a long sigh. “I figured it was something like that. I knew there had to be a reason for John to stop looking.”

Both of Gabby’s eyebrows shot. “Stop looking? You’re joking, right? Elizabeth, I realize that it took us far too long to find you, but don’t you think for one damn minute that John Sheppard stopped looking for you.”

A strange mix of emotion flashed across her friend’s face. “What do you mean?”

“Ah, you’re awake!”

They both looked up to see Carson pushing the curtain aside. Gabby gave the doctor a tired smile. “I am now. Thank you for patching me up.”

“I have to say, dearie, you gave us quite a scare.” He glanced over at Elizabeth. “Did she tell you the good news?”

“Aside from the fact that we all made it back alive?” She shot a sharp look at Elizabeth. “We did all make it back alive, right? I know I blacked out in the jumper -”

She reached out and squeezed her arm. “Everybody’s fine. You were the only major injury.”

“As I was saying,” Carson interrupted. “The good news - Elizabeth here is completely free of nanites!”

“How...how is that even possible?” Gabby asked, shaking her head. “I thought you could only deactivate them...”

Elizabeth shrugged. “It must have been something the Wraith did. They made me one hundred percent human again. According to Carson, there’s absolutely nothing abnormal about me.”

“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Gabby quipped without thinking. Elizabeth’s answering smile was immediate and warm, and for a moment it felt like no time had passed at all. “Nanite-free and home on Atlantis. Can’t complain about that.”

“A lot to take in, though.”

Carson rested a hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder. “It’ll be alright. You’ll see. It’s just good to have you home.” He squeezed her shoulder and then turned back to Gabby. “You have some visitors, love. Is it alright if I send them in?”

“Of course.”

He disappeared, and a moment later John, Steve, Danny and Kono were crowding around the bed. Gabby noticed how John tried to hover somewhere between right next to Elizabeth and a small distance away from her. It pained her to see the two of them out of sync, but there was nothing she could about it at the moment. They needed time, and they needed to talk. She wondered if either of them was really willing to do the latter.

“It’s so nice of you all to come and see me,” she said instead. “I didn’t realize you cared so much.”

“I only came because I was promised story time,” Danny said, a teasing smile on his face as he stuck his hands in his pockets.

Gabby’s mind flashed back to her conversation with Steve and John. “I did promise, didn’t I?”

“Those were some pretty impressive moves back there,” John observed.

“Not to mention the explosives,” Steve added.

“Explosives?” Danny asked. “No wonder you’re so interested. Sounds like your kind of woman.”

Gabby rolled her eyes and Elizabeth gave her an inquisitive look.

“Am I still the only one who knows what you did before Atlantis?”

“Not for much longer.” She took a deep breath. “It’s really not that interesting of a story, you know. I just...had a very different job before I came to this galaxy.”

“And that job was...?” Danny prompted.

“I simply worked for Her Majesty’s government.”

“Her Majesty’s government...as in the Queen of England?”

“Yes.”

“I’m pretty sure even British paper pushers don’t work with explosives.”

Steve chuckled, shaking his head. “You were a spy.”

Gabby frowned. “Spy is such a dirty word.”

“Yes, but is it an accurate one?” Danny asked.

“I suppose so.”

“You...you suppose so? How do you just leave something like that out? It seems fairly important.”

“And yet it just never came up,” she said with a smirk. “I met Elizabeth just after I left MI-6. She was negotiating a deal between a couple of Eastern European countries. One of the leaders didn’t trust his neighbor - naturally - and knew me from a previous mission. He hired me as added security for Elizabeth. Turned out he wasn’t just being paranoid.”

“After she saved my life,” Elizabeth said, picking up the story, “we got to talking. I’d had a few death threats here and there and she seemed like a very useful person to have along. So I hired her as my personal aide and she traveled with me under that guise. Once I started working with the SGC, she became a part of the package.”

“And they let her into the program with her past?” John asked skeptically.

“Oh, they don’t know,” Gabby replied.

“Excuse me?”

“I am very good at cover stories. All of my paperwork looks completely legitimate. I’ve always had a ‘normal’ job to hide behind. MI-6 was very particular about things like that.”

“So you managed to trick the U.S. government and the IOA?”

“Not to mention the British government. I dropped off the grid. Before we arrived in Atlantis, I heard that they were looking for me in Croatia, of all places.”

“Damn,” Danny said. “I don’t know whether to be more disturbed or impressed.”

Steve shot him a look. “You’re impressed.”

“I might be,” he conceded. “Either way, I wanted to thank you. Not only did you help save me, but you managed to keep Rambo and his sidekick from becoming Wraith food.”

John frowned. “Which of us is Rambo in this equation?”

“I would think that’s pretty obvious,” Steve said.

“Not really -”

“Boys.”

They all stopped talking at the tone in Elizabeth’s voice and for a moment it felt so much like old times that Gabby actually felt a pain in the middle of her chest. She could see it all over John’s face as well and she had the sudden urge to hug him as tight as she could.

“We should let you get some rest,” he said quietly.

Everyone nodded except for Danny. “Actually, I was hoping you’d be up for seeing Grace? She was pretty worried when she found out you got hurt.”

“I would love to see her,” she said.

“Good. I’ll, uh...I’ll go get her.”

Danny slipped out of the room and then one by one, the rest followed. Kono and Steve gave her a smile and a nod before they left, both of them telling her how glad they were that she was okay. John lingered, obviously torn between waiting for Elizabeth and disappearing. Gabby wished there was something she could say to make it easier for him, but to her surprise, Elizabeth beat her to it.

“We’ll come back and see you later,” she said, leaning down to press a kiss to Gabby’s forehead. “You and I have a lot of catching up to do.” She glanced over at John. “A lot of us do.”

He stared at Elizabeth for a moment before swallowing roughly and nodding. “Maybe we can sneak you some breakfast in the morning.”

Gabby liked all of the ‘we’s’ being thrown around. “Sounds lovely. Get some rest, please. I think you both deserve it.”

A few more murmured goodbyes and then they were gone as well. Gabby let out a long breath and closed her eyes. She wasn’t really tired, but her mind had quite a few things to process. It was only a few minutes until Danny came back though, this time with Grace in his arms, and Gabby happily pushed her thoughts away to smile at them both.

“Well hello there.”

Grace’s eyes were big and worried. “Danno said you got hurt.”

“Oh, it’s just a scratch, darling. I’ll be alright in a couple of days.”

“Can I sit with you?”

“Of course you can.”

Danny lowered his daughter gently to the bed on Gabby’s uninjured side, and the little girl tucked herself right in, laying an arm across her torso. Gabby let out a long breath as she cuddled with her. Glancing up, she was just in time to see the warm look in Danny’s eyes. He blushed slightly when he caught her eye, but he didn’t look away.

“You said you were going to work,” Grace said, “not going to save Danno.”

“Well, I didn’t want you to worry about us. So I thought I would go and help rescue your father and then bring him back to you.”

“But what if something had happened to both of you? Uncle Steve and Kono were gone, too.”

Both Danny and Gabby heard the fear in her voice. Grace was still coping with the loss of her mother, and in one day, almost everyone else she loved and counted on had been in danger as well. That would be difficult for anyone to handle, but even worse for an eight-year-old girl who was in a galaxy she didn’t understand, far away from the life she had known. She hugged Grace a little tighter.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I know that it’s scary, Grace. But I had to do whatever I could to make sure that your father came back to you. Does that make sense?”

Grace nodded, but didn’t say anything. Gabby looked up again to see Danny watching them, a mixture of sadness and something else that she couldn’t quite put her finger on in his eyes. He stepped closer, running his hands through Grace’s hair.

“We’ll do our best to be careful, okay, Monkey? And you’ll never be alone. I promise.” He took in the way his daughter was holding on to Gabby. “Is it okay if we stay for a little while longer?” he asked quietly.

Gabby nodded. “I’d like that.”

Danny pulled up the chair Elizabeth had been using and settled down, his eyes never leaving them.

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Elizabeth argued with herself the entire way, nearly turning back three times. It had been almost a week since she'd been rescued and brought back to Atlantis, and yet she still hadn't managed to share more than a few sentences with John. She just didn't know where to start.

She still remembered how it felt to give him the order to leave her behind. She hadn't wanted to do it, but there had been no other way for the rest of the team to get back to the jumper safely. Even knowing that, though, a small part of her had been hurt when he followed that order. John was someone who was almost completely incapable of leaving people behind, even if it put his own life at risk, and the fact that he had been willing to leave her had cut more deeply than she had expected.

She'd be lying if she said she hadn't expected him to come back. John was hardwired to sacrifice himself for others. He always went back for people. Always.

He never came back for her.

Elizabeth told herself a lot of things over the next few months. That John was in charge of Atlantis' safety and he had to do what was best for the city. That he couldn't drop everything and come searching for her when other people depended on him. After the Replicators moved her around a few times, she told herself that the chances of him ever finding her were so remote that she just needed to let it go. John was a miracle worker, but some things were out of reach, even for him.

At one point, she just became angry. Bitterness built up inside of her and her captors had broken her down so badly that she had no defense against it. It ate at her, and with each new brand of torture they thought up, it grew. She started to hate John and resent the rest of his team. She knew in her heart of hearts that if Ronon or Teyla or Rodney had been taken, he never would have rested. He would have gotten them back.

It wasn't until the Wraith had stolen her away that the bitterness began to ebb away. Whether he thought she was dead, or didn't know where she was, or just didn't think that saving her was a viable option, John hadn't come to her rescue this time. Being angry about it wouldn't change things. She only had herself to hold onto, and she couldn't let that be destroyed by her feelings of abandonment. She had to be stronger than that. She was stronger than that.

And then he had shown up on the other side of her cell, heart in his eyes. He had shown up and he had taken her away from that hell and now she was back on Atlantis with the people she thought she would never see again.

Elizabeth knew John. Even with her two years away, she still knew him. The guilt and shame in his eyes had been there when he first laid eyes on her in that cell and it had been there every day since. He blamed himself for everything she'd had to endure; it was just the way he was. And no matter his reason for not coming for her, Elizabeth couldn't bear the thought of him berating and second-guessing himself.

All of which brought her to his quarters. She waved her shaking hand in front of the sensor and waited nervously for him to answer the door. A part of her was afraid that he wasn't there; a larger part was afraid that he was and that he would refuse to come to the door. A few seconds later, though, the door slid open with a whoosh and there was John, toothbrush dangling out of his mouth.

"'Lizabeth," he said, her name mangled as he tried to keep from spitting toothpaste at her.

She took a deep breath and forced a tight smile onto her face. "Hi. I, uh...I was wondering if we could talk. If you're not too busy, of course."

Elizabeth got the feeling that he wanted to say no, but instead he just nodded and waved her through the door. Once she was inside, he gestured to the bathroom as he started walking towards it.

"Gimme a minute?"

She nodded and he disappeared. While he was gone, Elizabeth looked around the room that she hadn't seen in two years. It hadn't changed, really. The Johnny Cash poster had moved to a different wall, but the guitar was still leaning up against the far corner. She'd only heard him play once, and that was by accident; she could still see the blush on his face when he realized that he wasn't alone. Not for the first time - and she imagined not for the last - she wished that they could go back. Things had been simpler then, even if it hadn't seemed like it at the time.

Her eyes made their way back to the Johnny Cash poster, focusing on one of the corners. It wasn't sticking down as well as the other three, and it looked like there was something else underneath it. She wondered what John could possibly need to cover up; curiosity getting the better of her, she crossed the room and pulled the poster away gently.

At first, she didn't understand. It was obviously a map, and she quickly gathered that it was the Pegasus Galaxy, but she couldn't figure out why John would have it in his room and covered up. Then her gaze fixated on one planet and she realized that it was the Replicator home world. The map looked like it had been added to from there, and there were little notations written in John's hand across the entire thing. Elizabeth stepped closer so that she could read it all, and one by one, things began to fall into place. A small gasp escaped on a breath, and when she heard movement behind her, she turned to see John standing there, eyes pained. She stared at him in disbelief for a moment, the map behind her already etched into memory.

"You never stopped looking," she whispered, now realizing the truth of Gabby's words to her in the infirmary.

John's eyes bolted away from hers, now staring at a spot somewhere over her right shoulder. He shook his head, emotion choking him.

"Why didn't you say anything?"

His head whipped back to face her, his eyes wet and angry. "Because it doesn't matter!" he hissed. "If it hadn't been for Danny getting kidnapped, or Ladon coming to us with the information -"

John shook his head again, cutting himself off. Elizabeth didn't even try to stop the tears from sliding down her cheeks as she stepped forward. Everything that she had told herself while in captivity, all of the anger and the bitterness...none of it mattered now. She moved until there were only a couple of inches between them, gently taking his face in her hands and bringing his eyes level with hers. She needed to make sure that he heard this.

"It matters to me," she said, her voice breaking. "You never stopped looking."

He looked at her like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I would have looked for the rest of my life," he said fiercely.

And suddenly she knew that it was true. A strangled sob broke free from her chest and she wrapped her arms around him, holding him against her tightly. He clung to her with a desperate strength, but it didn't hurt. Elizabeth just closed her eyes and breathed him in, letting herself, for the first time in two years, to feel as though she wasn't forgotten. And really, she should have known. John wasn't one to let things go - especially when those things were people that he cared about. She had come to the eventual conclusion that she hadn't mattered to him as much as she thought she did. But the way he had just looked at her, the way he was holding on to her now, shattered all of the distorted illusions she'd wrapped around her heart.

She was home.

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Danny sighed as he stepped out of Grace’s room. Tonight seemed like it was going to be one of the easier nights. His daughter had never been ill-behaved in her life, but sometimes at bedtime, when she was feeling especially sad or scared, she would become peevish. Danny could always sense the shift in her mood, and he knew that he was going to have a hard time getting her into bed and asleep. The chances of her having nightmares were usually higher, too. He mentally crossed his fingers that tonight she would sleep all the way through.

“Grace okay?” Steve asked, perched on the edge of the wardrobe. He had what passed for beer in the Pegasus Galaxy in his hand, and he passed Danny’s glass back to him.

Danny nodded. “Yeah. She’s doing better now that Gabby’s out of the infirmary.”

“She’s really gotten attached to her.”

He took a seat on the end of the bed. “Yeah.”

Steve hesitated slightly. “You think she reminds her of Rachel?”

Danny thought about it for a minute, running his thumb around the rim of his glass. “I think she makes her feel safe like Rachel did. Coming out to rescue me, I think...I think that really cemented her trust, you know? And really, the accent is the only thing they have in common. Gabby’s a completely different person from Rachel.”

“You seem to be getting pretty attached, too.”

Steve expected him to argue about it, but Danny just kind of shrugged. “Maybe I am. Would that be such a bad thing?”

Steve shook his head. “I think she’s great.”

“But?”

“But...make sure that you want her because she’s her, and not because she filled a gaping hole in your life when you needed it most.”

Danny looked up and gave him a bemused smile. “Look at you...giving advice on real adult relationships. It was even good advice. I think I might be proud of you, buddy.”

Steve rolled his eyes and took a drink. “Yeah, yeah.”

“Since we seem to be in the ‘giving advice’ kind of place tonight...”

“You think I need advice?”

“I think you need to talk to Kono.”

Steve frowned, dropping his eyes back to his drink, and Danny knew that he had hit on something.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean...you should go talk to her. You know...like friends are known to do from time to time. In fact, this right here is a shining example.” He took a deep breath. “I know Kono is tough, Steve. She always has been and it’s one of the eight hundred and ninety-three things that I love about that woman. But she is not okay, and you avoiding her -” He held up a hand to stop Steve’s interruption. “Your blatant avoidance is not helping matters. She lost the person closest to her -”

“Which is exactly why I can’t talk to her!” Steve yelled.

Eyes wide, Danny stared at him, not understanding. “You can’t talk to her because Chin is gone? That makes no sense.”

“I can’t talk to her because I’m the one that killed him, Danny!”

For a minute Danny just kept staring at him. "You did not kill him, Steven. He got bit. He was infected. He wasn't even Chin anymore by the time we got to him."

"I put a bullet in his head," Steve gritted out, his teeth clenched and his knuckles white as he gripped his glass. "It doesn't matter that he was infected. I'm the one that put him down. Right in front of Kono. Trust me - I am the last person she needs to talk to right now."

"You think she blames you? She told me about how it went down. She couldn't pull the trigger, so you did it for her. That's not something to blame yourself for, Steve. You did exactly what she needed you to do."

Steve just shook his head. "I killed her cousin."

Danny changed tactics. "So...what? Because you can't bring yourself to look her in the eye, you're just gonna let her suffer alone?"

"She's not alone. She's got you, Malia, Mary..."

"You're supposed to be her friend, too. Ohana, remember? Things might be a little fucked up right now, but we've still got that."

He sighed. "Danny..." Shaking his head, he dropped his gaze to the floor. "She doesn't need me."

"You're a damned fool, you know that, right?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I know."

"Well, as long as you know."

Danny stood up and joined him. Leaning over, he clinked their glasses together and they stayed there for awhile and just drank, letting the silence be loud enough for the both of them.

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Chuck was the only one in the control room when it happened.

He wasn’t supposed to be there. It wasn’t his shift, and really, he should have been down in his quarters, sleeping. He was restless, though, and eventually it had chased him out of his bed. Morgan hadn’t argued too much when he offered to take over for him. It wasn’t like there was a lot of work to be done on Atlantis at almost two in the morning; someone just needed to sit there in case something happened.

Chuck stared at the Gate, lost in thought. He was fairly certain that the reason he couldn’t sleep was one MaryAnn McGarrett. When the group from Hawaii had initially come to Atlantis, he hadn’t given them much thought. The idea that zombies had overrun Earth and they could probably never go home again was a much bigger deal at the time. After a few weeks, though, he started to get to know Mary. She was inquisitive and abrasive, and he loved hearing her laugh. He thought there was a good chance she liked him, too; Chuck made a deal with himself that he would ask her to dinner the next day.

He snapped back to attention as the Gate suddenly activated. There weren’t any teams off-world at the moment and he threw the shield up without even thinking; whoever was trying to come through sure as hell wasn’t invited. He tapped his radio.

“Colonel Sheppard to the Gateroom immediately. Unauthorized off-world activation.”

Chuck knew that a team of Marines would be there in less than a minute. He should have had to just wait for them, staring at the watery blue of the event horizon. The shield was up. They should have been safe.

A loud CRACK! shot through the room, and he stared at the Gate in disbelief. There was a fissure in the event horizon, an impossibility that rendered him silent and unable to move. The sound reverberated again and the fissure grew. It was like the event horizon had suddenly become a door that someone was breaking down.

The Marines were just coming into the room, weapons held at the ready, when a fist came through the gate. Chuck watched in horror as the wall of blue that he had so often admired was torn apart like a curtain, revealing an army of Wraith led by a man that everyone in Atlantis at least knew by name.

“Kill them all,” Kolya ordered.

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John was racing down the hallway when the emergency alarms started going off, the sound almost deafening as it ripped through the city. He quickened his pace, almost barreling straight into McGarrett as the other man shot out of his room.

“What the hell is going on?” he demanded.

“I don’t know,” John replied. “Got a gun?”

“Always do.”

“Then follow me.”

Gabby rounded a corner and came running towards them and Danny popped out of his own room, still wrestling his t-shirt over his head.

“Trouble?”

John nodded. “Gate room. You coming?”

Danny looked right at Gabby and she nodded. “I’ll stay with Grace,” she said. “Be careful. All of you.”

Danny tangled his fingers with hers on the way by and then he was gone, following the other two as they headed for the Gate room. The entire city had been woken up by the alarms, but John kept shouting for all of them to stay in their rooms. He had no idea what they were going to find, and he couldn’t raise Chuck on the radio. A heavy knot formed in the pit of his stomach and he found himself wishing he had Elizabeth by his side. He couldn’t check on her, though. Not yet. The city had to come first.

The sounds of a firefight reached them just as Ronon, Teyla, and Lorne met up with them. Another corner rounded and they came to the control room, everyone staring in horror as Wraith flooded the room, guns blazing as they attacked the soldiers trying to hold them off. Ronon and Steve immediately opened fire, but John found himself transfixed by something on the top tier of the room. At the main terminal, where he usually saw Chuck every day, he could just make out the body of the technician lying dead on the floor. Standing over him was Kolya, a look of grim satisfaction on his face as he straightened up from the computer and locked eyes with Sheppard.

“Colonel Sheppard!” he called out loudly. “I’m so glad you could join us.”

John grabbed Ronon and Steve and hauled them both back around a corner, using the wall for cover. The others followed them and John reached up to tap his radio.

“Gabby?”

“Right here, John.”

“Send out a city-wide evacuation. Tell everyone to head for the jumpers - the Gate room is gone.”

“Consider it done.”

“And Gabby?”

He clicked his radio off and turned to his small group. “Teyla, I want you and Danny to head to the jumper bay. Start getting people packed in as well as you can. Grab any weapons and supplies you can fit. Once a jumper is full, send it out to the alpha site. Make sure there’s at least a couple of soldiers, or someone who can handle a gun, on each one, okay? Ronon, McGarrett, you’re with me.” He stepped closer to Lorne and lowered his voice. “Major, I need you to make sure that Elizabeth gets on one of those jumpers.”

Lorne nodded. “I’ll find her, Sheppard.” He knew what this meant. “I’ll keep her safe.”

John stared at him for a minute and then nodded as well, stepping back. “Alright. We might be evacuating, but that doesn’t mean Kolya’s getting this city free and clear. Let’s make it as messy as possible.”

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Danny and Teyla raced through the hallways, Danny taking an unexpected turn to the right when they were supposed to go left. Teyla stumbled slightly and then caught up to him.

“Danny -”

“I’m getting my daughter first!” he insisted. “Not to mention Mary and Malia. Then we can head to the jumper bay.”

Teyla knew better than to argue with him. Danny had proven time and again that his daughter was the most important thing in his life and there was nothing in the world that would make him leave her.

A strong tremor ran through the city then and they both had to pause to catch their balance. It was quickly followed by another one and Teyla feared that the city was in mortal danger. Windows in the corridor behind them exploded in a hail of glass and fire and she realized that they were being fired upon. Her brain struggled to understand how the Wraith had gotten through the shields, how the ships had appeared undetected, but those answers wouldn’t help them now. Their only focus had to be on survival.

They rounded the last corner and saw Gabby ushering Grace out of the room. Danny felt something in him relax just a little as he saw his daughter for himself. The city was falling down around their ears, but as long as he could hold her and know that she was alright, he would be okay.

The hallway rumbled again, more forcefully this time, and cracks ran up the walls. The Wraith were hitting them with everything that they had and Danny wasn’t sure how much more the city could take. He forced himself to run faster, determined to reach his little girl.

“DADDY!” Grace called when she caught sight of him, her teddy bear clutched tightly in her arms.

The next tremor was so powerful that it knocked both Danny and Teyla to the ground. He struggled to get back to his feet even as he stared in horror at the cracks that now reached up to the ceiling. His eyes snapped back to Grace as everything inside of him went cold.

“GRACE!”

The ceiling between them came down with a crash that forced the two of them even further back as they tried to avoid the falling debris. Dust filled the air, threatening to choke them and limiting their field of visibility. Danny pushed himself off the floor, coughing and rubbing at his eyes.

“Grace!”

There was no response and he lunged forward, clawing at the debris as he tried to make a hole.

“Grace!”

“Daddy!”

At the sound of her voice Danny stopped and let out a broken sigh of relief. “Baby, are you okay?”

“I’ve got her, Daniel,” Gabby’s voice floated through the barricaded. She coughed a few times. “She’s alright. I’ll bring her, Mary, and Malia to the jumper bay another way. We’ll meet you there.”

He didn’t like it. He wanted Grace in his arms so that he knew for sure that she was safe. Too many things could go wrong with them being separated. He trusted Gabby, though, and he had no other choice but to let them go.

“Be careful!” he warned them. “Wraith are in the city and I’m pretty sure they’re hell-bent on our destruction.”

Danny heard her mutter something that sounded particularly close to a curse. “I’ll make sure they get there safely. Is Teyla okay?”

“I am,” the Athosian woman responded. “Ronon, John, and Commander McGarrett are trying to hold the Wraith off. Kolya is leading them.”

“I’m really starting to think it’s time someone put an end to that man.”

“I am sure John is thinking the same thing. Danny and I will meet you in the jumper bay. Are you armed?”

“Always, darling. Take care of yourselves and we’ll see you shortly.”

Danny couldn’t leave yet. “Grace!”

“Yeah?”

He swallowed roughly. “Danno loves you.”

“I love you too!”

There wasn’t anything more he could do for her. Turning, he nodded at Teyla and followed her back the way they had come.

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It was a miracle that they were still alive. John shot at another Wraith before ducking behind a corner and corrected himself. It was mostly because of Ronon that they were still alive. McGarrett was a SEAL and damn good, and John had been known to get himself out of a few tight scrapes here and there, but nothing could compare with the Satedan's rage. He had already lost one home to the Wraith - losing a second was just about enough to push him over the edge. He went barreling down hallways with a roar, killing them anyway that he could. John and Steve were lucky if they took down one or two to every five of Ronon's kills.

John hadn't said it aloud, but he had no choice but to admit it to himself. The city was lost. Wraith were everywhere. For every pack of the aliens that his group put down, they came across twice as many members of the Atlantis expedition, dead. Bodies were strewn across the hallway. Some were nothing more than dried husks, the Wraith having fed on them and stolen the rest of their years from them. Others were broken and bloody, shot or cut down where they stood.

He didn't understand it. Kolya and his army shouldn't have been able to get through the shield. The long-range sensors should have picked up the Wraith ships long before they got to the city. How could they have been caught so unawares?

They turned another corner and literally ran into McKay. John let out a long sigh of relief at the sight of his friend, but there was disappointment there as well. He had been hoping that Elizabeth was with him.

"Sheppard, thank God!" Rodney exclaimed. "I was asleep and then there was all this noise and I got up to yell at whoever was making it, but then there were Wraith and I had to run -"

John grabbed his shoulders. "Rodney!"

McKay blinked. "What?"

"We have to get to the jumper bay. There's too many of them. We can't hold them off."

“But, but...we can’t abandon the city! We can’t let them have it! You know what they could do with everything here. Earth already has zombies - they don’t need Wraith on top of it!”

“The control room is gone,” McGarrett interrupted. “You can’t go in there and activate the self-destruct.”

“Can you do it from another computer?” Ronon asked.

“Of course. I just need to get to my lab and -”

“Rodney!” John snapped.

The scientist blinked. “What?”

“Less talking. More running.”

They sped down the hallway. John looked at his companions and realized that McGarrett and Ronon were both bleeding from multiple wounds. He wondered if they were grazes or scratches or actual bullet holes, but it wasn’t like they had time to stop and do a check. Different parts of his body clamored for attention as well; he didn’t even have time to take inventory of his own wounds.

They reached the lab after another massive fight in the hall and Rodney headed straight for his terminal. Fingers flying across the keyboard, John glanced over and saw just how terrified his friend was. Rodney was usually someone you couldn’t get to shut up, but at the moment, he was completely focused on the task at hand.

“Dammit.”

They all looked over at Steve. “What?”

“Radio’s not working.”

“Kolya probably shut them down,” Rodney replied. “It kind of makes it hard to kill everyone if they can communicate and fight back. Or, you know, formulate an effective retreat.”

“I just hate not knowing if my team is safe.”

“Trust me, you’re not the only one,” John muttered. “I hope Elizabeth got to the jumper bay.”

Rodney froze, fixing John with a steely glare. “You don’t know where Elizabeth is?”

“No, Rodney. I’ve been a little busy! I sent Lorne after her, though.”

“But, but...it’s Elizabeth! You can’t leave her behind, Sheppard. Not again!”

Rodney’s words hit him hard and John swallowed roughly. The thought of letting Elizabeth down again, of having to deal with losing her again...it made everything in his chest tighten. He would give anything to be able to make sure that she was safe. But the city was burning and people were dying and he was the one that had to make the hard decisions.

He opened his mouth to say as much and urge Rodney back to work when a hail of gunfire interrupted him. Wraith were coming at them from two different directions and McGarrett and Ronon were having a difficult time holding them off. John and Rodney ducked as bullets bounced around inside of the room and then John rushed forward to help McGarrett. Ronon had the better chance of holding a doorway all by himself.

He would have been dead if it weren’t for McGarrett. There were just too many Wraith in too confined of a space, and one eventually got the better of him, slamming him into a wall hard enough to make his head spin and his limbs refuse to cooperate for a minute. The Wraith grinned down at him and reached out, obviously intent on feeding. John’s mind flashed back to the last time he had endured this and he prayed to God that this time it went by quicker.

The Wraith never touched him. Sporting a new gash down the length of his forearm, Steve turned suddenly and drove a long knife into the Wraith’s neck. It pushed the creature back far enough for the SEAL to fire three shots into his forehead and then he was down and the corridor was blessedly quiet.

“Thanks,” John muttered, struggling to get back to his feet.

Steve hauled him up. “Don’t mention it.”

A quick glance to the side told him that Ronon was still standing despite the new wounds he was sporting, but when he turned his attention to Rodney, he froze. His friend was leaning heavily against the table, hand pressed to the side of his chest. Blood poured out of the hole and Rodney stared at it in horror and disbelief.

“No, no, no, no, no, no,” John chanted, rushing across the room just in time to catch him. "Don't do this to me, Rodney!"

"I didn't mean to," he replied, looking slightly offended. "Oh, God. This is really bad isn't it?"

McGarrett stayed at the doorway to keep watch; Ronon came over to kneel down next to the scientist, taking in the wound with grave eyes. He looked over at Sheppard and gave a small shake of his head.

"Oh, God," Rodney moaned. "Even I know what that means."

"Shut up, McKay," John said, trying to keep his voice steady. "It's bad, but we'll -"

Rodney grabbed the front of John's shirt and tugged him closer. "You have to find Elizabeth."

"Rodney -"

"You have to," he insisted. "You can't leave her again. We did that once. We can't...Sheppard, she deserves better." He stopped, tears flooding his eyes. "It was my fault. I know I never admit it when I'm wrong. Mostly because I never am. But, but...I was wrong. With Elizabeth. I should have listened to you. If I hadn't reactivated the nanites, she wouldn't have gone to the Replicator planet and she wouldn't have had to sacrifice herself to save us. She -"

"She'd be dead," John interrupted firmly. "But she's not and we got her back, Rodney. We got her back."

"But you can't leave her again. You can't." He took in a stuttering breath, and John could hear the fluid inside of it. "I can finish the self-destruct. I can give you enough time to get out of here. The explosion will destroy the city and kill all of the Wraith in it. You just -"

"I'm not leaving you!" John hissed.

"You have to!" Rodney yelled back. "We both know I'm a goner. Okay, there's no last minute miracle here, no quick fix that's going to make it all better. The city is gone! You have to get as many people as you can and get out! You have to be there with them, Sheppard. They're going to need you to survive wherever you end up. And you need to get Elizabeth! You have to!"

John opened his mouth to argue, but Ronon reached out and touched his shoulder. "He's right, Sheppard. There's nothing we can do for him now. Let him go out with his dignity."

"I'd rather not go out at all," Rodney argued. "But I don't really have a choice here." His watery eyes met John's. "We had a hell of a run, didn't we?"

Emotion nearly choking him, John clutched his friend's shoulder. "You know it, buddy."

"Promise me you'll get Elizabeth."

He nodded. "I will. I'll keep her safe, Rodney. I promise."

"Good. Now bring that laptop down here and get the hell out of here. And don't argue with me - you know I'm right."

John forced a small smile onto his face. "Yeah, well...you usually are."

Rodney's face beamed as much as it could with all the pain he was in. "Thanks."

John nodded. "Bye, Rodney."

He forced himself to his feet, wiping at his eyes as McGarrett looked over at him. John moved over to join him, but Rodney pulled Ronon down to say one last thing to him. He turned his back to give them some semblance of privacy, and because he didn't think he could take hearing another goodbye.

"I don't think we're gonna have a lot of survivors at the jumper bay," McGarrett said quietly. "We've seen too many bodies."

"Then we save the ones that are still alive. It's the only thing we can do." He looked up to see Ronon standing beside him. "All set, big guy?"

"I'm killing every Wraith we come up against," he growled. "You two might want to just stay behind me."

John wanted to look back once more, but he couldn't do it. Instead, he followed Ronon and Steve as they headed back out into the corridor, praying that he could keep his last promise to Rodney.

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Gabby raced down the corridors, Grace in her arms and Malia and Mary by her side. She'd handed one of her guns over to Mary as soon as they'd started running and she was glad to see that the younger McGarrett knew how to handle a weapon.

Wraith were everywhere, as were the dead bodies. Gabby had to hold her emotions in tight check as they rounded each corner and she saw the faces of people she had once called friends. Katie Brown had been almost torn in half and Gabby had immediately pressed Grace's face into her shoulder. The girl had already seen more atrocities than most people saw in their entire lives, but Gabby would spare her whatever she could.

There was a lot going on that she didn't understand, and her mind was struggling to sift through everything. The Wraith shouldn't have been able to enter the city. Their ships shouldn't have been able to get so close without tripping the long-range sensors. And Wraith were not usually this brutal. They were evil, vile creatures, but for the most part they were all about feeding. They ate or killed their opponents and moved on. This, though...Gabby wasn't seeing a lot of people who had had the life sucked out of them in usual Wraith style. There was too much blood. Gory stomach wounds, some limbs torn off, slashed throats...they'd been fighting the Wraith for more than four years and she had never seen them act like this. She worried that that meant there was something much bigger going on - something that she couldn't see yet.

She didn't have time to worry about that, though. As they stopped before rounding another corner, she focused on catching her breath and checking to make sure that Grace was still okay. The little girl was obviously scared, with tears running down her face, but she didn't scream or cry out. Gabby was incredibly proud of her.

"You're bleeding," Malia said sharply after she had inspected Mary for any wounds.

Gabby looked down to see that a bullet had gotten her left shoulder. Now that she was aware of it, it started to hurt terribly, but she swallowed roughly and pushed it aside. It was her shooting arm; she could shoot fairly well with her right hand, but she wasn't sure she could carry Grace in her injured arm.

"It doesn't matter," she muttered. "Down this hall and to the left and we'll be in the jumper bay." She passed Grace to Malia. "Mary, I want you to lead. Shoot anything blue. I'll cover your rear. Malia, your only job is to make sure Grace gets into one of those jumpers safely, alright?"

The other woman nodded. "I promise."

"You're coming too, right, Gabby?" Grace asked, her voice small and her eyes big.

Gabby forced a smile onto her face. "I'll be right behind you, love."

"And Danno?"

"He'll be there, too. And then we'll get out of here together, okay?"

Grace nodded and Gabby pushed herself back to her feet. Mary came up to take the front with Malia and Grace between them. Sharing a look with the other two women, Gabby knew that they understood their mission. Danny could not lose his daughter, no matter what. All three of them would die to make sure she made it to a jumper.

"Go," she urged quietly.

It took them less than twenty seconds to get down the hall and then they were through the door that opened up into the jumper bay. Gabby could see that there were jumpers ready and waiting, but only two of them had any people in them. She caught sight of Danny and Teyla supervising the escape, her eyes meeting with Danny's for just a second as he registered that his daughter was alive and almost in his arms. Gabby almost let herself breathe a sigh of relief that they had made it.

Except that they hadn't.

Wraith came from the side and from behind her. Mary turned to shoot at one of them, but her angle was all wrong. Danny shouted out a warning and Gabby scanned the entire room, taking stock of her options.

"Get to the jumper!" she yelled.

And then she spun around to meet their attackers. She knew that there was no way she could defeat five Wraith on her own with an injured shoulder. This wasn't like the rescue mission to get Danny and Elizabeth back - she tired, and she was bleeding, and she didn't have the element of surprise. But she could stall them, and that was all her friends needed to get to safety.

She did her best to block everything else out as the first Wraith came charging at her. The knife in her opponent's hand was cruel-looking and she ducked his first throw, slipping behind him and getting her right arm around his neck. She might not have been as strong on that side, but she threw her weight down, forcing him to bend backwards uncomfortably. Gritting her teeth against the pain in her other shoulder, Gabby snapped her body to the side and broke the Wraith's neck before letting him fall to the floor.

It had taken more out of her than she expected, and as she turned to face her second attacker, she realized that she was moving too slowly. Just a second or two off, but it meant that she couldn't get her weight completely stabilized before having to meet the oncoming blow. Her knees gave out and her feet slipped out from underneath her as the floor rushed up to catch her.

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The city was shaking violently by the time John, Steve, and Ronon reached the jumper bay. It had taken them longer than usual to get there, between the packs of Wraith they had run into and the collapsed hallways that had forced them to find another way. The tremors were almost constant now, and John knew that the city wasn't going to stand much longer, even without Rodney activating the self-destruct.

He blinked, forcing away those last memories of his friend.

The first thing he saw as they ran into the jumper bay was Danny scooping his little girl up into his arms and running her into one of the jumpers. Teyla was ordering the other ship to close its back door even as she waved Malia and Mary to follow Danny. A sharp cry rose from the far side of the room and he turned to see Gabby surrounded by Wraith, disappearing under a hail of blows.

The first full jumper was lifting off as Ronon and Steve raced towards Gabby. Ronon let out a howl of anger and loss and frustration, the sound filling the room, causing some of the Wraith to look up in surprise. It was the last thing they did. The Satedan ripped them away from Gabby, shoving his gun into their faces and pulling the trigger. Steve stabbed one in the eye with his knife and then dove in after the British woman, gathering her up in his arms and then turning toward the remaining jumper.

"John!"

He turned to see Teyla waving him over and he went once he saw that Ronon and McGarrett had everything under control. They couldn't wait any longer. If there were going to be any survivors from Atlantis, they needed to get the jumper in the air right away. He jogged up the ramp and took in its occupants. Lorne was in the pilot's seat, with Carson sitting next to him. Radek, Mary, Malia, Grace, and Danny were there as well. And then his eyes landed on Elizabeth, and he felt the knot in his heart loosen just a little bit.

"'Lizabeth," he murmured. "You're okay."

She nodded, and he noticed a cut above her left eye. "Major Lorne found me almost immediately. Made sure I got here safely."

John made a mental note to thank the man profusely later. "You ready to get out of here?" he asked the major.

Evan nodded. "Just let me know when the rest of them get in and I'll close the doors. Engines are ready."

The five seconds that it took Ronon and McGarrett to get Gabby into the jumper felt like an eternity, but then the doors were shutting and the jumper was taking off. John stepped to the side as best he could so that McGarrett could lay Gabby down on the floor; Danny whispered something to Grace and then passed her over to Mary before kneeling down by Gabby's head and putting pressure on the wound in her shoulder. She was conscious, but her breathing was labored and her eyes unfocused.

"A doctor would be pretty useful right now," Danny called out.

It took a bit of maneuvering, but eventually both Carson and Malia were there. The latter pulled Gabby’s shirt away from the wound while Carson started wiping away the blood. Ronon grabbed a first aid kit from somewhere and set it by Beckett’s side.

The jumper took a sudden dive, and everyone braced themselves.

“As steady as you can keep it, lad!” Carson called out without looking up.

“Sorry, doc,” Lorne replied. “We’re taking some heavy fire. It’s not gonna be easy to get out of here.” There was another sharp turn. “Sheppard!”

Grimacing, John jumped up onto the bench seat on the side of the jumper and climbed across it to get to the front of the ship. Once he was at Lorne’s side, he leaned forward to get a better view. The major pointed out the window towards the top of a walkway that connected two towers. John squinted, noticing that there were two figures out on the narrow structure.

“Is that...?”

Lorne nodded. “It’s Cadman. And that Wraith is about to get her.”

“Can you shoot him?”

“Not without possibly hitting her. I don’t want to risk it.”

“Then get us down there.”

He turned and climbed to the back door. “Ronon! Got your gun ready?”

“Always do.”

“Good.” John activated the rear door so that it opened up. “You shoot the bastard and I’ll grab Cadman.”

As soon as the door was clear, Ronon started firing at the Wraith. The closer they got, John could see just how bad off Cadman was. The structure she had somehow gotten trapped out on wasn’t very wide, and she was lying on her stomach, clinging to it with all of her strength. He didn’t think there was much of that left, either. One of her pant legs was soaked in blood, making him wonder at how she was conscious at all.

It was obvious that she wasn’t going to be able to get up and walk herself into the jumper. Ronon’s shots struck home, and as the Wraith fell backwards off of the structure, John eased himself to the very edge of the back of the jumper. The Satedan grabbed the back of his shirt to keep him steady and John did his best to gather Cadman into his arms. As he started to pull her inside, he saw other Wraith coming through the window of one of the towers.

“Get us out of here, Lorne!” he yelled.

The jumper pulled forward. Off-balance, John fell back inside with Cadman on top of him, the blood from her leg already starting to soak through his own clothes.

“Faster!” Ronon roared. “McKay set the self-destruct - it could blow -”

There was a moment of silence, almost as though all sound had been sucked out of the air. John barely had time to register what was about to happen when the city exploded in a flash so bright that it felt like a hundred knives were stabbed through his eyes. He shut them, but it was already too late. Even the smallest attempt to open them again sent a migraine ripping through his head and he knew that serious damage had been done.

“I’ve got her Sheppard,” Ronon murmured, pulling Cadman from his arms.

“My eyes...” he groaned.

“BECKETT!” Ronon yelled. “Two more patients!”