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The moment Frozen

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“Keep running” John shouted and looked back to the tree line. The pygmy tribe was not far behind them. How one wrong word could have huge consequences and that from just tiny people. Too bad their spears were not that small and feeling one of them rip through his shoulder was more than enough. In front of him Elizabeth and Carson were running as fast as they could towards the DHD. For a split second they checked his status, seemingly expecting an order from him.

“Dial the Gate, I’ll entertain the midgets with some bullet dancing,” shouted John.Where were Teyla and Ronon if you needed them? He almost cursed himself for believing Elizabeth that it was safe to go without his team. And that just because they hadn’t returned from their trading mission yet. It was simply stupid, but there was no time for lingering in the past. He would make sure Carson and Elizabeth would stay safe.

“Aye,” Carson confirmed and ran as fast as he could to the console. He had been on many off world missions by now and had been through the drill. More common were escapes from the Wraith or the Genii, but today a rivalling pygmy tribe had chosen the wrong moment to visit their neighbours. Carson shook his head. It looked like their visit could cause a tribe war on this planet and all they wanted to do was offer medical supplies and care in exchange for other medicines. The deal sounded simple enough and even Elizabeth believed nothing could go wrong.

Elizabeth watched Carson press the address while her heart was still racing in her chest. For her away missions weren’t that common and she certainly hadn’t been on that many close escapes. For all that mattered, she was excluded from the action at any time it could have been avoided.

She didn't mind being kept safe, but at the same time she felt responsible and worried about the teams. However she wasn't completely unprepared for action.Elizabeth took a deep breath. A part of her wasn't absolutely certain what went wrong.

They had visited both tribes and there had been no sign of mutual hostility. Both tribes agreed to trade, so it wasn't easy to explain where the sudden anger came from. She had laughed at John’s joke about short fuse just a few minutes before the rivaling tribe leader wounded him with a spear, which had been their queue to leave. There were expelled from the settlement and doomed for all eternity in their native tongue. Elizabeth was too busy running to share the bit with everyone else.

Carson hit the dialing button and the Gate activated. “Atlantis, this is doctor Weir, we’re coming in hot.” Anxious, the three of them waited for a response, but everything stayed quiet.

John looked over his shoulder and saw Carson staring at the DHD. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.”

“Atlantis, this is Sheppard, we need clearance now !” The silence that followed made his stomach twitch. It wasn’t the right time for anything to go wrong here. “Atlantis, come in?” John saw a movement in the bushes and knew it wouldn’t be long before their position would be compromised. Shutting off the gate and dialing the beta site would have been an option if it hadn’t been for a Wraith hive that claimed the planet three weeks ago. “Carson, you have your memo recorder at hand?”

“Sure,” Carson hurriedly searched the pockets of his jacket until he found the recorder.

“What’s your plan John?” Elizabeth cut in, wanting to know what was going through his mind

John sighed and looked at Elizabeth, searching through his own pockets. “Let's just say we need a MALP on a stick,” he grinned ruefully. John turned his attention back to the bushes, working out the best defensive strategy.He really didn’t want to shoot at the little guys, but he wasn't given much choice. Surrendering was not the option he had in mind. After the sudden attack he didn’t want to find out what else they might do to them.

“What should I do with the recorder?” Carson asked, his eyes changing from Sheppard to Doctor Weir. He wasn't particularly useful during a fight, but the spear wound John sustained needed urgent medical attention.

“Strap the recorder to your radio, turn it on and throw it through the gate!”

Elizabeth watched Carson search his pockets for a roll of tape. She felt a little useless, but without even realizing it, her hands dug in her pockets too. Her fingers latched on a pre-packed bandage, the one she wanted to offer John for his injury. Quickly she peeled the sealing open and tore the tape lose from the cloth. Together with Carson she taped the radio to the recorder.

“Okay, got it.” Carson exclaimed while running to the Gate and throwing his package through. “It’s through.”

John listened tensely and heard Becket’s voice over the radio. That was a relief, the force field wasn’t up. Yet he was still clueless why there was no response. “You did dial the right address right?” he asked and knew it was a pointless question.

“We dialed Atlantis.” Elizabeth answered. She was just as unsure as the others were. How could it be that they did not respond? Power failure would be an option, but then someone would have picked up the radio they threw through the Gate. ‘Alternate timeline or dimension’? She didn’t want to consider those options. She had read SG reports and frankly wished she had taken Rodney along on this trip. He would be able to figure things out.

Over a dozen Pygmy came from the woods. “Okay, our time is up,” John shouted while walking backwards towards the Stargate. His gun was aimed at the tribe and hoped they wouldn’t start throwing spears.

“Colonel?” Carson asked when he saw John approach. He briefly checked Elizabeth and saw her face had turned pale. “We still don’t know what’s going on.”

“One thing we do know is that the force field is down.” In his head John went over the list, containing the things they knew for sure as well as the list with questions. They didn’t hear signs of gunfire on Atlantis, but why the heck did no one respond to their call for help. He took a deep breath and focused on the group closing in on them at an ever faster rate. It was obvious these pygmies wanted them off the planet and that was what they should do. In worst case scenario they would end up on a screwed up Atlantis, but at least they would have time to figure out how to solve it.

Carson took Elizabeth by her hand and pulled her towards the Stargate. He swallowed and wasn’t eager to step into the uncertainty, but it seemed the only option they had. He trusted Sheppard to have considered all alternatives. With a slightly shaking hand he removed his hand-gun from the holster and placed his finger on the trigger. Elizabeth looked at him with enlarged eyes and he gestured for her to do the same.

She swallowed. John had ordered her to carry a gun, but she didn’t want to use it. Yet she obeyed, feeling a surge of discomfort crawl through her system. The feeling of the cold metal pressing against her skin wasn’t making her nerves settle down. She had no time to wonder where it had gone wrong, but the thought was on her mind every second. Before she knew it John was standing only inches away, blocking the path between her, Carson and the Pygmies.  She could hear John’s breathing and recognized the tension.

“We have no choice,” John whispered and took another step backwards. They were only a step away from the event horizon. “Doc, I’ll go first. You watch our backs. Seems they just want us gone.”

“Aye.”

John cautiously switched places with the doctor, keeping Elizabeth in the middle and safe at all times. Before stepping through the Stargate he checked that his gun’s safety was off. When he emerged on the other side he swung his gun around the dimmed room and stiffened. Everyone was encapsulated in something that looked like a solid block of ice. When he dared to take a breath, the cold air filled his lungs. The sight was shocking and made his heart rate double. This wasn’t the scenario he had hoped to find.

            

Elizabeth and Carson came through, pushing him from the spot. Immediately the Stargate closed, leaving them in near darkness. John flipped the light on his gun on and scanned the room again. Everyone in the room stood or sat motionless, frozen in a clear block of ice. At first sight he couldn’t discover any signs of struggle. Everyone seemed to be working their normal routine. Therefore he assumed that whatever happened, happened quickly and without a warning. He sighed deeply, well aware that Elizabeth and Carson would like to know what was going on. John tapped his radio, “This is Colonel John Sheppard, please report.” A long silence followed. “Careful.” John’s said to himself while stepping down the ramp, cautiously walking towards the consoles.

“Oh god,” Elizabeth breathed and stood perplexed about what she was seeing. All her expedition members frozen. From the corner of her eyes she saw Carson’s dreadful face, filled with questions and concerns. If this really was her Atlantis in her timeline they had to find a quick way to undo whatever happened. Even if it wasn’t her Atlantis she surely had to do the same. None of them deserved to be in this state. She observed John while he examined the Lieutenant sitting behind the console.

Systematically, John took in the details. The Lieutenant’s skin was covered with at least an inch thick layer of ice. He didn’t know yet if it was frozen water or something else. The expression on the woman’s face was friendly and her hand reached out for an information pad. The scene was creepy and they had to be careful not to get trapped too. The beam of light aimed to another console and in a glance he saw Rodney sitting behind it. ‘Not good’ kept going through his mind over and over. He moved to the console and inspected the laptop. The diagnostics program had finished a little over an hour ago. In his head he tried to think of any cause and the most obvious one was an experiment gone sour.

“Careful where you walk and don’t touch anything.” John warned Elizabeth and Carson when they acted on his nod to come over.

Carson followed in Elizabeth’s wake, his eyes moving from one to another victim. From all the strange things he had seen in the past three years, this was the most bizarre for sure. Colleagues and friends so close to them and yet so unreachable. His heart was aching, wanting to help them, but without knowing what they were dealing with, that was easier said than done.

Elizabeth suddenly stopped and her eyes widened. If whatever happened to the people here in the Gateroom happened all over Atlantis it was very bad. It would mean that not only was Rodney frozen, but all of the scientists, leaving only them to solve the mystery. Her heart cried. She had to be strong, to push away the fear for her people. All those people trapped, not knowing if they were dead or alive and not knowing if they could revive them. Carson’s hand on her shoulder startled her. His look comforted her some, but deep in his eyes she saw the same pain. Pain tucked deep within, trying not to lose hope. She swallowed and nodded.

“Hmm,” John cleared his throat. “I don’t think they've been frozen for long.” With his gun he tapped at the ice around Rodney and a high tinkling sound echoed through the room.

“Do we have any idea what happened to them?” Elizabeth asked.

John shook his head and sighed, “No.” His hand reached out for Rodney. He closed his eyes, hoping he wouldn’t turn into an icicle at touch. His fingertips got cold and carefully he opened his eyes again.

Carson sighed relieved and dared to breathe again. “Ice?” he asked, trying to get a confirmation about their assumption.

“Feels like it.”  John turned and looked straight at Carson. “What would happen if we simply try to thaw them?”

This was the question Carson had been going over in his head a dozen times already and he still didn’t have a clear answer. He didn’t know. He didn’t know if they were still alive. He didn’t know the method of freezing. He didn’t know if they could be revived. He didn’t know anything without proper research. He shook his head. “I can’t tell.”

“Okay,” Elizabeth cut in. “What do we know and what do we need?”

John turned his attention at her. “It happened quickly, without a warning and not long ago. The material around them feels like ice, but sounds like crystal. I’m not the scientist here, but my feeling tells me some experiment went haywire.” He taped on some keys on the laptop. “The diagnostics report says all systems were functioning normally. Power is down, so I guess something changed that. There’s no response to our hails… It looks like everyone on Atlantis is affected.” He swallowed hard. These were not the words he liked to pronounce, but they represented the truth of their current situation. “Doc?”

Carson nodded while John moved past him and headed for the life signs monitor. “Okay, let’s see what the system thinks.” He activated the screen and saw all Expedition members lit up all over Atlantis. That was a relief, meaning they weren’t dead yet. “No Wraith. That’s a good thing too.” He said, turned again and moved Elizabeth aside while walking to another console. “Watch the life signs for movement while I make sure no unwanted guests can march in.”

“John, what’s your plan?” Her voice was tense and a slight hint of nerves had found a way to leave a trail of it behind.

“There!” Carson exclaimed and pointed at a dot on the screen. Both set of eyes were aimed on him. He was sure he saw movement, but not a single dot moved. Maybe it had been his imagination.

“Keep watching the screen, while I set the force field to automatically activate when someone dials in.”

Now Elizabeth saw it too. “There.”

“Aye,” Carson confirmed. They both watched the dot move and close in on their position fast.

“John!”

“I see,” he said and pushed them out of the way while aiming his gun at the door and putting the light out. The dot was right behind the door, putting his body on high alert. He used the console for cover and waited. Slowly the door shoved open and saw tip of a gun, a flashlight and an arm. In a flash the Atlantis emblem caught his attention. “This is Colonel John Sheppard, identify yourself.”

“Colonel.” Teyla’s voice sounded relieved while she managed to wrench herself through the door opening. “I am glad to see you are still well.”

John put her in the beam of his light and saw she was unharmed. How difficult it was for him, for the moment he didn’t know if he could trust her or not.

“John?” She asked and put her arms up. “It is me, Teyla.”

“I can see.”

She wasn’t sure why he was still pointing a gun at her and she knew there wasn’t much time. “Please John, we have to get out of here.”

“Why?”

This was taking too long. Sure he was right in not trusting her. She was the only one still walking and thankfully for them she knew more about the situation and could fill them in. However, their first priority should be to leave this room. “Doctors Weir and Beckett. I hope you are here as well. Please I mean you no harm and I can explain some about what happened here, but we really need to leave this room quickly.I have been running around Atlantis for almost an hour with an alien following me. I am sure it will be here soon.”

Alien was the keyword John heard and decided it was safer to trust Teyla then to wait for a possible alien. “Move!” He shouted, turned to Elizabeth and Becket, gesturing them to head for one of the other doors. Teyla ran past him and started opening the door. John assisted her and together they created a wide enough opening for Carson and Elizabeth to step through. “What happened?”

Teyla was aware there was much to talk about and very little time to get the important details right. It would answer a lot of John’s questions, but it would not provide them with all the answers. “Ronon and I did not notice anything had happened. We had been sparring in the gym. When we got out we saw someone frozen in the middle of the hallway. We tried to contact anyone, but got no response.”

The door closed with a clang behind them and the group ran to another door. “We need to reach the infirmary.” Carson said, thinking not only about rescuing everyone on Atlantis, but also bandaging John’s injury.

“First weapons,” was the answer John gave and saw the glimmer of fright in Elizabeth’s eyes.

“I need a reload too,” Teyla confirmed before continuing her story. “Ronon and I went to the Gateroom, but on our way we saw more people frozen. We armed ourselves and tried locating more survivors.” She exhaled and helped John with the next door. “At first we thought something went wrong in one of the science labs, but then we ran into the alien.”

“What alien?” John asked and saw her eyes grew large.

“I have never met the species before. It looked like a distant relative from the Wraith, but I am not sensing it.”

John turned towards her and sought for some answer. The last encounter they had with the vicious swimming queen was still fresh in his memory. In addition to the power she had to control Teyla and make her do things wasn’t really assuring him. “Wraith?”

Teyla could read the doubt in his mind and she could not blame him for it. She had brought them all in danger the last time. “A distant relative maybe.” She said. “It was tall, muscular, bluish skin, a long black coat and it had long white hair. The alien chased us through the city. We tried deluding it, trying to reach the Gateroom. I disabled the force field, hoping I could contact you or at the very best you could return here. However, our location was compromised too soon and we barely escaped. We...”

“What happened to the power?” Elizabeth asked mid sentence.

“The alien froze the generators as well.”

“What?” John felt the burden of keeping the four of them in one piece and freeing all others loaded on his shoulder. And the burden became heavier by the minute. If just one alien was responsible then they had to be very careful. He pulled a gun locker open and grabbed a machine gun, pressing it in Carson’s hands.

Teyla pulled him at his shoulder. “John. I know I do not have all the answers, but Ronon and I decided to win as much time as possible, giving you a fair chance. We split up, doubling our chances. I have emptied over two clips of bullets shooting at the alien, but still it came after me.”

“Oh, crap.”

“John...”

“Okay,” he cut in. “Teyla, you and Elizabeth go and find out as much info about the alien in the database, while the doc and I go to the infirmary and see if we can safely unfreeze more people.”

Carson prepared the gun and held it tightly in his hands. “What happened to Ronon? We saw just one dot move on the internal scanners.”

“He is frozen in the infirmary. He pulled doctor Zelenka over there, it was the nearest scientist we found.”

John shoved a machine gun in Elizabeth’s hands and avoided her look, knowing all too well she didn’t like having a gun in her hands. Meanwhile his eyes locked onto Teyla. “Any chance we can track it?”

Teyla shook her head. “We have been unable to track it. It does not show on the sensors. However, the alien will track us.”

“Go!” John ordered. “Keep com channels open.”

“One more thing. The alien uses a sort of splash gun and splash bombs. The liquid coming from the weapon will freeze any living thing and technology.”

John simply nodded before he and Carson split up from Teyla and Elizabeth. He knew it was a risk of splitting up, but he was also aware they had to cover a lot of ground and learn as much possible in a short time. ‘Crap.’ He should have sent out a message to Earth, letting them know Atlantis was compromised.

~~~***~~~

In the optimal situation John would have chosen to send Teyla with Beckett and would have protected Elizabeth himself. But things were far from optimal. The necessity for another shot with painkillers reminded him about the spear wound. Once they were in the infirmary the doctor could have a quick look and give him something for the pain. A neat fix would have to wait for the moment they were all safe again and he wouldn’t tolerate any intervention from Beckett. Priority one, avoiding the alien, two, making sure he could function, three, finding out how to get their people back to normal.

“Last door,” Carson said while assisting John who seemed to be bothered by his shoulder more and more each door. He added some extra force and let John step through first. “I should first fix you up quickly.”

“Not gonna say no to that.” John scanned the room and nodded it was safe at Carson, who ran past him to grab a med kit. On the floor he saw Ronon’s body frozen, next to that of Doctor Zelenka. Carefully he stepped over them and sat down on one of the beds. Meanwhile Carson had joined him and cut open his blouse. The pain started torturing him, clogging his mind.Relief came when he felt a needle puncture his arm and the pain started to ebb away.

Carson inspected the wound and knew he didn’t had much time to stabilize it. “I’ll put a tight bandage on the wound and give you some extra shots against the pain.”

“Just do it quick.” John groaned when the doctor tore a piece of his blouse from the wound. “Teyla status?”

“The alien is still after us and closing in, but we can keep up.”

John could hear the strained breathing of Teyla and Elizabeth in his ear. They were running as fast as they could. “Doc, activate the systems here.That will get the aliens attention.”

“Negative,” Teyla shouted. “We can keep up. Try to find a cure.”

In the background Carson heard another door shut down and the next one being opened. He knew they were truly running for their lives. His full attention returned to the injury when John grabbed his wrist. Carson continued his treatment, picking up a bag with IV saline and quickly cleaned the wound before pushing a few pieces of gauze in it to stop the bleeding. He stabilized the shoulder with a tight bandage and released John from the bed.

“Teyla, can you keep up for another 10 minutes?” John asked while pushing himself from the bed.

“Will do,” Elizabeth gasped almost out of air.

Carson nodded and prepared the scanner. “Let’s work quickly.”

“I vote to scan a lightweight.”

Carson laughed and helped John lift doctor Zelenka on the table. “Even light weight meant heavy weight with this the layer of ice.”

“Yeah. Don’t wanna try getting Ronon up here with my shoulder.”

While John observed the room, his work and listened intensely at the two women running, Carson inspected the body. John was right, the cocoon around the body felt like ice, but he doubted it really was ice. For one, there was no sign of melting water and secondly, the victims inside would have been dead. However, the scanner showed him a very slow but steady heart rate. That was about as much info as he got from the scanner. It didn’t recognize the substance around the body, nor a way to reverse the process and get the people out. “We need a science scanner,” He said and verified John had received the message.

“Nothing we can do here?”

“Not as long as I don’t know what turned them into an ice cube. But the good news is that they are still alive.”

“Okay, let’s go and relieve the ladies.”

~~~***~~~

“Look out!” Teyla called out and pushed Elizabeth around a corner.

“He is getting faster,” Elizabeth breathed and took a second to catch her breath before pushing off from the wall and running after Teyla to the next door. It had been a long time since she had run for this long and this fast, if it ever happened. There were times when she had wished for more action, but that didn’t automatically mean she wanted to catch up for the past three years in one day.

When Teyla had said the alien looked like a distant relative from the Wraith she wasn’t lying. The physical build was similar to that of a Wraith Commander. Only its blue skin with a scale-like structure and its bright blue eyes gave away they weren’t dealing with a Wraith.However, except for the visible resemblances they knew very little about other capabilities. The only thing they had perceived was that it was extremely hard to kill. Teyla had emptied another clip with bullets and the alien seemed not to be bothered with any of the shots. They had to find information about the species, hoping it would shed some light on why it attacked Atlantis and where it came from.Once they knew more about that it could possibly lead to a solution for the frozen people.

Teyla opened the door and pulled Elizabeth through. She was feeling the strain of running around the place as well. Thus she knew how Elizabeth had to feel, yet her fitness and willpower amazed her. “I think he is getting more familiar with the layout.”

“Or it’s getting better in tracking us.”

“Meet us near Rodney’s science lab,” John ordered over the radio.

“We are on our way,” Teyla replied and changed direction. She and Elizabeth ran to another door.

They both pushed against the door to get it open and Elizabeth stepped into the other corridor. When she looked over her shoulder she saw the alien approach. “Watch out!” she yelled and saw the ever calm expression on Teyla’s face.

“Go, I will distract the alien. Go to the science labs.”

“No,” she protested. She knew what would happen to Teyla and she feared losing another good person and close friend. Teyla bowed her head respectful and calmly released the door. Her smile made Elizabeth’s stomach twitch and the clang of the door echoing in her ears made her lose control over her emotions. Here she was, packed up with a machine gun, being chased through her city by a vengeful alien. She fell against the wall and took deep rapid breaths. She hesitated a few moments before pushing her fear away. She swallowed, took in a deep breath and pushed off from the wall. This wasn’t the time to break down. Teyla gave herself up so she could meet John and Carson, so that was what she had to do. She regained her bearing and ran to the nearest door. She had to make it. She owed it to Teyla and all the others. They had to find a way to resolve the issue.

Teyla stood motionless, her body pressed tight against the door and her hand on the control panel. If she was about to turn into an ice statue, she would make sure the alien wouldn’t be able to go through this door. The alien slowly approached her, with a strange looking hand weapon in his hand. “I’m sorry John,” she whispered in her radio, knowing that any moment she would get shot at.

“We’ll get you out.” John promised and Teyla heard the pain in his voice.

The next seconds she felt extreme surges of cold wrap around her body, unable to move, but very well aware of everything around her. The sensation was terrifying. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk, but her mind was still active. With her eyes she saw the alien walk back the way he came. She concluded from this that at least her sacrifice had bought Elizabeth valuable time. Seconds became minutes and minute after minute passed by. The surges of cold and discomfort remained, only the fear weakened and was replaced with desperation and hope. Desperation about being trapped and hope that John, Elizabeth and Carson would find a way to overpower the alien or kill it.

~~~***~~~

“Elizabeth, where are you?” John called in his radio. Without Teyla’s help she would have more difficulty opening doors. He and Beckett needed to find her quickly and get to the science lab.

Elizabeth checked the hallways and offices she passed. To her left was the mess hall. Five more doors then she would see John and Carson again. Five more doors and she would be relatively safe. Five more doors... She had to make it. She couldn’t give up, not now. Not after she had come this far.

“Where are you?” John shouted, annoyed, into his radio. If she didn’t give away her location they couldn’t go and meet up with her. “From what direction are you coming?”

“Mess hall,” she breathed and push as hard as she could against the door. The muscles in her body ached from the exertion she put her body through. One inch, two inches. Without any help, opening the doors was a heavy task. The opening was nearly wide enough to push through when a splash of water hit the door. It barely missed her. She ducked behind the door and felt a layer of ice forming. As quickly as she realized she pushed off and for seconds stood frozen to the spot watching the ice form a barrier between the door opening. Fright ruled her body for moments. What were her options;what was she supposed to do? “Alien.” She spoke in her radio. The words were unexpectedly calm, soothing and strengthening her body and mind.

“Where?” John asked and checked with Beckett to see he was still all right.

“The door leading towards the mess hall. It’s frozen solid, only one way for the alien left to come here.”

“We’re on our way.” John increased speed and Carson was with him. Two more doors to go before they would run into the frozen door. A frozen door would be the ideal testing situation to find something to break the ice. He checked his pocket and found a C4 pack. While running, he put the detonator in it and grabbed the transmitter. “Elizabeth, get into the mess hall.”

“Already working on it,” she replied and stepped inside the room. Ever since she felt the ice near her body a strange feeling roamed inside her body, making her move and handle more quickly, but still she considered all her options. She never was the reckless type and never would be either. Not even under the most stressful situations she had been in. And not now.

Her eyes scanned the mess hall, while her mind processed the information and formed a strategy. There were only two people sitting at a table. Both frozen solid, holding hands. She smiled when she noticed. Their second of affection was captured for her to see. For a brief moment her thoughts trailed off. She never paid much attention to the love lives of her expedition members. She knew that there were relationships, but she was clueless about the extent. She did know for sure that she deliberately ignored her own feelings. She had to. She had to be the leader her people expected her to be. She didn’t have time for all the courtesy and rules surrounding a relationship. The distance she kept even created a safe shield, so she would keep herself from getting hurt if something would happen to the man she cared for. She also knew she was fooling herself about that matter. Her heart would still be shattered in pieces if something bad would happen, but she hoped that the pain would be less than if he knew. Maybe if things would turn out fine and everything returned to normal she could openly addressed her approval of having relationships on Atlantis, within certain boundaries of course. Her people didn’t need to suffer from the wall she had created only to protect herself. And maybe, maybe if she had enough courage she would talk to him. Let him know what she felt. Maybe...

With a smile on her lips she pulled a few tables on their side, creating some cover in case the alien would be here before John and Carson. She checked the gun and made sure the spare clips were at hand. While biting her lip she turned and sought for alternative weapons. She ran to the fire extinguisher and pulled it from the wall and placed it behind the table she had selected as her safe spot. From there she could oversee the entire mess hall and there were now plenty of tables and chairs scattered around to prevent the alien from coming straight at her. She swirled around her axis and sought for more distraction. If this place was going to be their main spot to defend themselves, she better come up with some creative ideas.

“Smoke.” She exclaimed and a little excited she made haste to the buffet table. She took hold of a pile of napkins and quickly lit all burners. It would be soon enough to throw the napkins onto the fire if she detected movement at the door. ‘Okay, what else?’ She lingered for a moment, looking around the room. She could throw food, but... ‘Soft drinks.’ The splatter from bursting cans from the gas inside might by a couple of extra seconds. She ran to the counter and lifted a tray off to drag it to her hideout. For starters she took two cans and shook them violently. The wave of ideas came for her and it thrilled her. Another round of running delivered her a few pots, pans and plenty of forks and knives. She was about to do another round to get plates when she heard someone at the door.

“John? Are you near the mess hall yet?”

“Not yet, we need two more minutes.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath, her eyes fixed on the door. She needed to handle quickly now. With a sway she threw the napkins in the fire, only to notice the city wide extinguisher put out the fire before it reached a certain height. No luck with that idea. She went on to the next, stepped forward and lifted the pile with dinner-trays. Now she had to decide if she should throw them now to create more obstructions and keep the alien as far away from her as possible or hide and hope it would turn away if it didn’t see her. Blue fingers were visible through the minor crack between the doors and instinctively she smashed the plates towards the door. She felt lucky when the door closed again and she had bought the first extra seconds of hopefully many more.

“The alien is here.” She said and hid behind the table. “I’ll try to keep him busy until you get here.”

“Be careful,” John said and swallowed hard. He could see the alien through the ice barrier and it looked straight at him. Only a second later it turned its attention back towards the door and started to push it open. Meanwhile John rushed to the ice barrier and placed the C4 in the middle of the ice wall. This had to do it, or they would lose Elizabeth too. With the transmitter in his hand John headed back and met up with Beckett around the corner. “Ready?”

Carson nodded and could see the tension on John’s face. His heart was racing too, while his mind was still trying to figure out how to save their people. They needed the science scanner as quickly as possible. Carson was unsure if time was of any consequence, but leaving the people frozen for a too long period would cause permanent damage to the bodies. They were close now, but Elizabeth’s situation was alarming.All the time he had run after John, being led by him from door to door, trying to reach Elizabeth before the alien would. But after each door they realized they were still one step behind. And now the alien was in the mess hall with her and their way was still blocked by ice. Even if they could get through there was still no easy way to get Elizabeth into safety. From what Carson had heard over the radio and from Teyla the alien was unaffected by the rain of bullets it had to deal with. John had taken a blast gun with him, but knowing Ronon, Carson knew that option had been tried without success. There had to be some way to neutralize the alien, they just had to find it.

Carson returned to real life when John pushed the transmitter and the loud blast of the explosion echoed through Atlantis. A nice addition was the high tinkling sound that followed. They both ran to the door and saw a small gap in the ice barrier, luckily just large enough for them to get through. John stepped through first and quickly helped Carson.

“Finally some luck.” Carson said, but John’s face didn’t change. It was still covered with a thick layer of tension and concern.

“Stay behind and find some cover.”

“Aye.” Carson mimicked John and aimed his gun while walking to the mess hall door.

John tilted his head around the opening and saw the alien in a corner of the room. From his estimation he believed Elizabeth to be a little to the left from the middle, but he need to be sure. Yet he didn’t want her to give away her position.Fortunately, two soda cans flying through the air confirmed his belief.

“Take the left,” John ordered while the cans violently burst open after hitting the floor. The alien seemed slightly surprised and John took advantage and opened fire. “Get Elizabeth into safety,” he called out to Carson.

Elizabeth was glad that she wasn’t alone anymore. Carefully she looked around the table and saw the alien change his attention towards John. Now was the time to strike. She lifted as many soda cans as possible and threw them at the alien.

“Come,” Carson said after he reached her. He pulled Elizabeth to the door, while the cans burst open. He didn’t dare to look over his shoulder, but the moment silence fell, a shiver passed through his spine.He swallowed and felt Elizabeth struggle against his grip on her arm. “We have to go,” He said.The last sound that reached his ear before looking back was that of metal and crystal falling down.

Elizabeth had looked back and saw John frozen in ice tumbling to the floor, his hand wrapped around the alien’s ankle. The ice didn’t break when his body hit the ground, but her heart did. Splinters of ice shredding her heart, ripping the pieces of flesh from the whole. This wasn’t happening, this wasn’t supposed to happen. This was not right. John was supposed to stall and fight the alien. He wasn’t supposed to sacrifice himself, just as Teyla had done. How were Carson and she supposed to beat the alien? Nothing seemed right, everything torn out of context.

She turned to Carson, her eyes wide open, a lump forming in her throat. “The gun,” she breathed and pulled her arm free. Her breath was stuck in her throat and heart aching. Slowly she stepped towards the alien’s gun, which had dropped just out of reach. She moved cautiously, keeping an eye on the alien. Since he was stuck to John, she believed he wouldn’t be able to grab the weapon himself.

Carson was also taken by the shock. His mind was still trying to think of something they could do.Seeing Elizabeth go after the gun was unexpected. His mind was saying no to her action, but he knew it would be valuable to gain some advantage. Elizabeth’s quick thinking might be the option they were looking for. “Careful,” he said when she leaned over and cautiously lifted the gun.

The alien’s eyes looked angry and a sudden roar made Elizabeth jump. She held onto the gun and walked back without turning around. She left no opportunity open for the alien to take an action without her knowing. Once back with Carson she took a deep breath. Never had she thought she would do something this bold. She didn’t even know where she had got the strength from, but she was glad she did. She gave Carson the gun, hoping he would have more courage to pull the trigger if needed.

“Now tell us how to reverse what you have done.” Her voice was clear and she left no doubt about her seriousness.

The alien formed a wicked grin on his face and roared loudly. The blast of the deep and dark sound reverberated through their bones. It took a moment for her to recover from the painful sound, but when she did, she came back even stronger. “Tell me, or we will place you in ice as well.”

It wasn’t anything for Elizabeth to speak threats of this kind, but Carson knew she had to. They were near desperation and had no other choices. John had offered them a rare chance and they had to take advantage of it. The alien would know at best if it was possible to break the ice and save their people. But even Elizabeth’s strong words seemed to dissolve into nothingness. The alien was filled with revenge,but still without them knowing the reason.

“Speak!” She practically yelled. However, the hint of frustration and despair was noticeable.

The alien stood tall and dominant in the room, no matter that his feet were bound by ice. Its eyes burned into hers and the dark look chilled her bones. Its long white hair swayed over his shoulder when he shook his head. Its chin heaved and another loud roar filled the room. This time it ended with a searing shriek that echoed in her ears. She wanted to fall on her knees, cover her ears, but couldn’t. She couldn’t show the alien any weakness. Elizabeth checked Carson, who was squeezing his eyes from the pain in his ears. She nodded at the gun and obediently he pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened and Carson checked the gun again. He was pressing the right button. He tried again and again, but the weapon didn’t fire. Could it be that the alien had disabled it with his roar or squeal? A better assumption was that it could only be fired by the alien or that there was a safety switch he had missed. He glanced at Elizabeth before quickly inspecting the gun. There were no buttons, switches or anything that resembled anything like that. Their little luck had run out and the weapon seemed a dead end. He shook his head and watched her. His ear still rang painfully and even if Elizabeth would say something, he feared he wouldn’t be able to hear it. Then it hit him. The one thing he had been searching for besides the answer on how to unfreeze the people. The alien withstood stun guns, bullets, but there was one thing they hadn’t tried. One thing...

Carson put down the gun, searched his pockets and turned slightly away from the alien. Elizabeth observed him, but kept her eyes on the alien as well. From two pockets he lifted a bunch of syringes. They were the ones he had taken to keep John in one piece. Most of them contained painkillers, but a few were sedatives and one even contained a sleep inducing drug. He thanked himself for always carrying those. You never knew when you would need them. Now all he had to do was give the alien as many shots as possible and hope it would be enough to take it out. Logically he would use the sleeping drug first, but going towards the alien scared the hell out of him. Yet if someone had to do it, he was the person. Honestly, it wouldn’t be good if any of them got stuck in ice. Elizabeth still had to search the database and see if the Lanteans had ever met the alien’s species before and he was most likely the best person to get the people from the ice.

He took a deep breath, but before he was able to step forward Elizabeth got hold of his hand. “I’ll do it,” she said, but her words were only a whispers and partly guess work, since his hearing was still compromised.

“No,” He shook his head and removed her hand from his. Determined, but with trembling legs, he walked across the mess hall. The alien followed him and turned as much as it could. Carson knew the best option was to try and sneak up to it from behind. He removed the plastic top and uncovered the long thick needle. The needles from the emergency syringes where longer and thicker. They were made to withstand being pressed through clothes if necessary. Carefully he approached the alien, who watched him.

Carson held out his arm and made a stabbing move when the alien waved his arm in his direction and roared loudly again. Then it swung around, its eyes fixed on the needle Elizabeth had stuck in his leg, right through the fabric of his coat. Without hesitation the alien changed attention and with ease threw Elizabeth across the room.

With a smack her head hit the wall and she sank to the floor. She felt dizzy from the force her body had endured, but for the moment their diversion had worked. Carson had given the alien another shot and it seemed unsteady on its legs. Carson was standing at a safe distance, waiting for the alien to fall down and when it did, he carefully injected it with everything he had. Meanwhile Elizabeth pulled herself up and leaned against the wall. She rubbed her head and caught up with Carson at the door.

“Nothing left?” she joked.

Carson pulled her back to the hallway and checked the alien before letting the door fall shut. “Sit down my dear.” Elizabeth wasn’t about to sit down, but he pulled her arm anyway. “Elizabeth, sit down please. I want to check you out.”

“I’m fine,” she said, but sat down anyway.

“Good work,” Carson said while inspecting Elizabeth’s pupils and taking her heart rate in the same speed.

“Good teamwork.” She corrected and smiled. “What’s the verdict?”

Carson checked her pupils again and his fingers checked the vertebrae in her neck. “Mild concussion.”

“Okay, let’s get to work then.” She had cut him off and was already standing again. This was their chance to walk around without the fear of the alien at every intersection or corner they reached.

Carson took her hand and cupped her chin in the other one. “If you are dizzy or having any other pain you do have to tell me.”

His voice was fatherly and serious. She nodded and smiled. “Let’s get that scanner.”

~~~***~~~

John’s discomfort and frustration were growing by the minute. He was lying in one of the most uncomfortable positions ever. His shoulder twisted painfully. One hand cramped tightly around the alien’s leg, the other one keeping his body lifted from the floor. His head turned to the side, stretching his neck. Now he was paying and felt his muscles tensing. His position might be uncomfortable, but he had been able to see the trick Carson and Elizabeth had played with the alien. Those minutes had been the most anguished of them all. The uncertainty of their success and the dangers they put themselves in. How much he wanted to scream out for them to just go, leave the alien locked to his hand and go. But the thick layer of ice prevented it. It prevented him from any interaction with the world around him.

It wasn’t until he himself was inside the ice that he had realized that none of the people were truly frozen. They were probably all just like him unable to move or talk, but the mind still working. It had freaked him out. Over the past years he had seen wondrous and bizarre things happening, but nothing compared to this. He wasn’t breathing and he was sure his heart didn’t beat more than two, maybe three, times per minute, which was a terrifying feeling in itself. However, the knowledge that he couldn’t help the others and only watch was frustrating him the most.

What had struck him deeply was seeing Elizabeth flying through the room, crashing against the wall. The expression in her eyes was all but concealing, blank and searching. She sat there until something changed, something that made her push up and continue. He hadn’t known what exactly happened, but when the big alien sank down, pulling him in an even more uncomfortable angle, he knew she and Carson had successfully bought time.  Her body movement showed evidence of how much pain she was in, but her character turned back. She was a fighter, always had been and always would be. Pride flashed in front of his eyes. Together they had found a way to only cripple the alien, but he feared it was only a delay of the inevitable.

The inevitable was about to come back to the land of consciousness. For a few minutes now John had noticed the alien twitch and his first thought and hope was that it was dying. When the twitching turned into leg and arm movements he cursed the alien for being a pain in the ass. It wasn’t long before the alien had risen to his feet and John was back into his previous, still uncomfortable position.

But what happened next made him really worry. The alien weapon lifted from the ground on its own and floated towards him. His eyes followed the weapon and saw the alien reach his hand out. At touch the weapon folded around the hand, perfectly fitting. ‘Freaky.’

John’s mind was distracted now. He had never seen a gun like it and figured it worked indeed on a DNA basis or something like it. That explained why Carson wasn’t able to fire the gun. When this was all over and they were themselves again he was sure Rodney would love a one on one with the gun, trying to determine how it worked. Maybe he would even find a way to mimic it and they could all have their own custom fitting gun.

The second John was being pulled along the floor with a certain ease he knew for sure the ending of the situation had very little chance to turn into their advantage. The alien seemed uninterested in removing him from its leg or it was impossible. Neither option was good. What also started nagging in his mind was the whereabouts of Elizabeth and Carson. It was obvious that they didn’t check the infirmary again, but he feared for them. The wise decision would be for them to go to a friendly planet and try to find help, but just like a captain, Elizabeth wouldn’t just leave a sinking ship or an Atlantis with a grumpy alien walking around. ‘Just one thing’ he thought… deeply hoping the two of them hadn’t set C4 traps along the way.

The alien came to a sudden stop, a short distance from the door. John could see it raise its hand and the doors flung open. ‘Crap.’ If the alien could open doors like this, the fight was about to turn even more unfair. The question about why the alien opened doors like this now and not before puzzled him. It was useless to ponder the many facets and might-be's of this species. For now there was nothing he could do. All that remained was to lay tight in ice and enjoy the scenery. With steady paces the alien left the mess hall. It avoided the door with the broken ice barrier and turned the other way. The next door  opened just as easily and the next and the next. John’s heart should have been racing, adrenaline rushing through his veins, but it didn’t. Only his mind was filled with anxiety about what would happen.

~~~***~~~

“Nothing,” Carson sighed and turned to look at Elizabeth.

She returned his look, adding a weak smile.She was feeling far from good, the ancient text on the laptop screen dancing in front of her eyes, the nausea stirring in her stomach. The lights above her head and coming from the screen made her headache throb painfully, wishing she could lie down and close her eyes for a moment. Carson had checked on her a few times, worried about her concussion, but she had dismissed the attention. She had no time to be sick.

Over the past hour she had been searching the Lantean database, while Carson worked on freeing doctor Zelenka. Unfortunately neither of them had success. There was no usable information in the database, no species that resembled the alien except for the Wraith.But the alien wasn’t Wraith. She knew that much. The build of the body was the same, but the skin was scale-like and she had noticed no feeding organ to her relief. Without a proper comparison they were alone in finding a suitable way to communicate with the alien and make it reverse what it had done. The first attempt had failed, but she had been taken off guard when John had turned into a block of ice. She hadn’t handled the situation as she normally would have.The next time she would be ready to try and use a more diplomatic way. Only deep down, deep inside her body she wished she would never get to that point. And if that point came, she had to decide what approach to choose, because she realized it would be her last chance. Last time she had been lucky, but by now their luck surely had run out.The grin on the alien’s face, his posture and his strength had made her fear him. It could have been a mental projection of fear in her mind. Not that it mattered, the feeling was real enough. Many speculations about the alien resurfaced in her mind, but none of it was useful. They knew nothing. Only that it was hard to kill. She sighed too and her smile faded into the mist of fatigue.

Carson laid his hand on her shoulder and looked her in the eye. “It’s alright, lass. We’ve tried. We’ve sent out a message to earth. They will find us.”

“I know.” She spoke calmly and found serenity in her thoughts.

Gently he cupped her chin and observed her. The blow to her head had caused her a serious concussion. They both knew it and they both concealed it, not wanting to worry about things that seemed inconsequential. “It is time to go.”

She nodded and he helped her up from the chair. For a few seconds he wasn’t sure she could stand on her own feet. She nodded again and he released her arm. She grabbed her laptop, only for Carson to take it from her. He shoved it in a backpack and strapped it on his back.

“Thank you,” she whispered and swallowed hard. She didn’t want to leave her city and her people behind, but she had no choice. Saving themselves was the wiser decision. She knew it. They would have time to work on the scans and information before coming back with a decent tactic. However, the thought made her nearly cry.

Silently they walked out of the room and headed for the open doors. On their way from the mess hall to the science lab, the Gate room and the infirmary they had left the doors open which they would need again. They had closed the other doors and barricaded them in case the alien would come after them.

It amazed Carson how well they were able to adapt to the situation. Even with the lack of extensive field experience they had managed to quickly think of solutions for things that crossed their path. It was true that he hadn’t worked out yet how to get the people from the crystal cocoon they were in, but he had collected a lot of data. The most useful discovery was that the ice wasn’t ice but a rare cold and rapid growing crystal. This much the scanners had shown him. His theory was that it extracted heat from the surroundings to grow, thus making it seem as if it was ice. However, the science scanner was clear about the fact that it was a natural occurring crystal that had nothing to do with water. The crystal showed many similarities with Quartz crystal, which was also found back on Earth. There was one major difference. This crystal was a lot harder and not so easily broken without the use of explosives. That was the only piece of the puzzle missing. If they found a way to safely break the crystal, they could get the people out alive.

All data he had recorded was saved on the scanner in his backpack, along with Elizabeth’s laptop. As soon as they would reach the Estar settlement they would have time to go over the data in more detail.His confidence grew. In a matter of minutes both he and Elizabeth would be safe. Yet he was equally troubled about leaving everyone behind. They had spoken about it and retreating was the wise thing they had to do. The only option to save their lives and hopefully that of everyone else on Atlantis.

The whole day had been one big drama. Adventure would be the positive word for it, but Elizabeth couldn’t make herself belief that. The lump in her throat was back, washing the calmness away. She wasn’t the type to panic, but she was on the verge of doing so. Everything was so wrong, so out of place and now she was forced out of her city. She tumbled against a wall and immediately felt two hands pull her up. A tear slipped from her eye and Carson gently wiped it from her cheek. “I’m sorry,” She sobbed and bit her lip.

“It’s alright,” Carson soothed and felt the same pain stabbing his body.

She swallowed and straightened her face. “It’s probably the headache.”

Carson nodded understanding. “As soon as we’re on Estar you should rest.” His words were calm and kind.

She was going to be fine. She nodded and they both started walking again. They stepped around a corner and found themselves cut off from the Gate room. In front of them stood the alien waiting, John still leeched to its leg. It roared loudly and before she knew it the gun had fired, encapsulating Carson in crystal.

‘Run, run.’ The words repeated in her mind, but her body was frozen to the spot. ‘Run,’ once more and her legs were moving. She ran away from the alien, her heart pounding rapidly in her chest.

John was screaming inside. Carson had turned into a solid block of ice and Elizabeth had barely escaped. There was so much he wanted to do, but nothing he actually could. His mind was in pure agony, wishing Elizabeth would make it to safety. Wishing the alien would stop pursuing her. However, that wish was instantly crushed when the alien started walking again.

Each step caused pain, intensified by the anguish in his mind. He desperately sought for a way to distract himself, to forget about what was going on, but failed. He couldn’t close his eyes, couldn’t hide from what he was seeing.

In his mind he went over all the details. Had he made the right choice of coming back to Atlantis? What would have been the risk of being captured by the pygmy tribes? Why didn’t he dial another planet? Why didn’t they leave after Teyla had told them about the alien? Why…? So many questions and even while he knew the decisions he had made were right, he did questioned them over and over in his head. If he had known it would end like this, he would have made other choices. However, it was too late for that now. He had been eager to try and find a way to save their people, but instead he had lost them all. All except Elizabeth and soon she would join them in ice.

~~~***~~~

 

Elizabeth had run away from the alien, she didn’t take time to fully comprehend that Carson was taken by the alien too. Until she did realize and came to a sudden stop.  All restraints broke and for a moment emotions took control. She dropped to the floor, her heart aching for each and everyone. Her body trembling from fright and disorientation. She had let her people down. After taking a deep breath she wanted to crawl back up. But when she looked up, she saw the alien standing, its gun aimed towards her.

The alien didn’t fire, but watched her, inspecting and observing her. She felt fear and confusion. Why didn’t he pull the trigger and get it over with?  This was the moment to speak up, but she couldn’t find the words. The alien aimed a short hiss at her, making her crouch. She swallowed and looked up.

“I’m sorry,” she said. It was meant for the alien, but for John. She was the only one left and not a fighter like he was. There seemed nothing left for her to do. No options, no way out. Her mind was swirling, twisting and turning. She focused and knew her pain showed in her eyes.

Another short hiss came from the alien and it waved his gun.

John saw Elizabeth raise her hands. He had no idea what was happening, but feared this was the last time he would see her move. She was still on her knees, looking up at the alien. He felt sore from torment and didn’t want to watch her get shot. He could only guess her feelings when he got shot. The thought about losing her sickened him and worst of it all, there was still nothing he could do. There was no way he could protect her. There was no way he could warn her to close her eyes, for her own protection.Instead her eyes flicked between the alien and him. He could see the deep regret in her eyes, then she slowly moved her mouth, but he couldn’t hear the words.

“I’m sorry,” she said again, this time aimed at the alien. Her lower lip trembled and nerves crawled through every inch of her body. “Please, I want to say something before you shoot me.” She had no idea if the alien understood her, but there was something she had to get of her chest. Something that had been in her mind for a long time, but she never dared to admit. The alien gave another short hiss and tilted his head to the side, waiting for something.

“John,” she started and nodded at the block of ice. The alien followed her eyes and turned back to stare at her. “I should have told this sooner, but I love you.” The last words were not much more than a whisper. Her eyes locked onto John’s and it made her feel complete. She was at peace, ready to accept what was coming.

The alien hissed and lifted his head back to a straight position. His mouth opened and a strange range of tones like music came from its mouth. It was so beautiful that her mouth fell open from surprise. She was unsure if she should stand up or stay where she was, but it seemed the alien tried to communicate with her. “I do not understand what you are saying,” she said kindly, refraining herself from a smiling. “I don’t know if you can understand me, but I’m sorry if we did something…”

She was unable to finish her sentence. Words were meaningless as she stood at the bottom of the Ocean. The alien stood there next to her, in front of a cave entry. It was merely an illusion, a telepathic setting the alien created for her. However, that moment it struck her and things fell into place. The alien lived right beneath their precious city. They had lived here for thousands of years, even before the Lanteans settled the city in the Ocean. She didn’t know how she knew, but she felt it.

Guided by the alien she walked inside the cave. They went through a force field and then they were inside the city. It was a fast city, with hundreds of houses made from rocks along the wide lanes. It was breathtaking. The beauty was overwhelming, just as the alien voice had been. The lanes were filled with men, women walking and children playing.

Elizabeth looked at the alien still guiding her along the way. He was male by the looks of the other aliens. ‘I’m sorry.’ She tried to speak, but only the thought transmitted. The man looked her in the eyes and gestured her to look in the other direction. She turned her head and saw a woman with beautiful long white hair. She wore an azure blue dress with pearls and her smile was warm and kind. In front of the same house two small children were playing. The sight made her happy, compelling.

Suddenly a rumble came from above. Rocks were coming down, crushing the house. The woman and children were buried under the debris. From all directions men and woman approached, searching the rubble, pulling the woman out. Her injuries were extensive and a few women tended to the wounds.

Elizabeth didn’t want to finish watching this, but the alien grabbed her chin and made her watch. For minutes she felt the pain and worry for this mother and her children, for minutes she stared at the people around, for minutes she didn’t know if she could trust her feelings. She jerked her head and stared at him. This wasn’t right. The alien was almost impossible to kill, so how were a few rocks able to… Her head turned back at the house. It was still in rumble, but the mother and children sat on the ground. Their clothes torn, but unharmed. The mother had wrapped her arms around the little ones, who were crying. The only true loss was that of their home. The pain and sorrow showing in the woman’s eyes.

Elizabeth swallowed and in a flash returned back to Atlantis. All pieces of the puzzle were in the right place.“I am sorry,” she said and looked up at the men again. “We didn’t know that turning on the power station would endanger your people. We never meant you and any of your kind harm.”

The alien lowered his gun and spoke in his language, the music vibrated along the hallway. It was beautiful.

Elizabeth bowed her head respectfully before slowly getting back on her feet. She did not understand his language and unsure if he understood hers, but there was a certain level of communication. “I will order the shutdown of the station. You and your people will be safe from us.”

The sound of his voice intensified and scattered the crystal surrounding John. He fell on the ground face down.For seconds his body lay motionless in the midst of thousands of small crystal fragments.

“Ouch,” He grunted and looked sideways at Elizabeth. She felt a heavy load drop from her shoulders, he was alive. This meant that if the crystal around the other people would break, they too would be back to normal.

As if on request, the alien’s voice continued. The sound reverberated and the tinkling sound of crystal breaking rang as sweet music through the entire city. “Thank you,” she said and looked respectfully towards the alien. He gave a short hiss, before turning around and walked to the nearest door.

“I’m sorry about your house.”Elizabeth called after him.

He turned around and bowed respectfully as Elizabeth had done. She felt it was okay. She knew his wife and children were okay and there house would be rebuilt. The feeling she received from the alien felt relieved and brought a strange satisfaction. Their species had come to a mutual understanding and respect. She was going to make sure the drilling platform would stop destroying the city beneath and leave them alone. That was all they wanted, to be left alone and live their lives happily.

She pressed the control button on her radio to make a city wide broadcast. “This is Doctor Weir speaking. We have an alien guest who is going home. I hereby order everyone to put your weapons down and let him pass by. He is to be left alone.”

John was still lying on the ground, too cold to move yet and he was thankful when Elizabeth knelt next to him.

“You’re okay?” she asked

“Cold,” he spoke slowly, his voice trembling. “But okay.” He added and didn’t ask questions, seeing she needed time to process the event in her eyes.

Elizabeth pulled him up and he wished she didn’t. Each muscle ached from the cold and his body couldn’t stop shivering. “You did good,” he said with a smile and received one in return.

“I’ll go and turn up the heat.” She rose to her feet and quickly made her way in the direction of the Gate room

 

~~~***~~~

Elizabeth lay on her bed with an open book. She had tried to read, but the headache and too many thoughts swirled in her head. Today had been intense for everyone. A few were still in the infirmary, but most of them had returned to their rooms or sat talking in the mess hall. For each and everyone the experience had been different. Some had been so terrified that the doctor had to sedate them, while others had worked out calculations for the energy consumption of the city wide scanners. She laughed. Only Rodney could do that. She wondered how scared he had been the first minutes. How his mind had adapted to the fact that he was still able to think while stuck in the crystal. At least she was glad that the majority had found a way to cope with the situation.

The chime of her doorbell rang and she looked up at the clock. It was past midnight. She wasn’t expecting anyone this late, but it could as well be important. She rose from the bed, walked to the door and opened it.

“Hey,” John said and swallowed.

“John?”

He waited for something, but slightly unsure what it was. He had no idea why he had come here and why it couldn’t have waited until the morning. The whole evening he had run each scenario in his head and he could only come to one conclusion. He hadn’t made a mistake by trying to get their people out, by trying to take out the alien. He wasn’t here to get resolution or approval for his actions, he was here to see how his friend was doing. John took a deep breath and watched her.

“John?” she asked again and nodded for him to come in. She pulled a smile to her lips and watched him as he did her.

John turned his head and searched for a chair. He sat down, Elizabeth joining on the chair across from him. “Thank you,” he said and rubbed his neck. “You weren’t asleep.” It wasn’t a real question, more an observation and Elizabeth smiled.

“No, my mind was still too occupied with things.”

“That won’t be good for your headache,” he smirked. The joke had made his tense mood evaporate and he wiggled himself into a more comfortable position in the chair.

Elizabeth stared at him, not sure what it was he came here for. She had clearly addressed everyone that reports about today could wait and that all missions for the coming week were delayed. So it couldn’t be work related. The obvious conclusion was that it was today related. “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked, trying to make him more at ease.

He shook his head and frowned. “No… hmm.” He stopped and returned to stare at her.

From any other man she wouldn’t accept the intense stare, but from him it meant something. “John,” she started, but was cut off.

“Elizabeth, I… You saved us. You saved us all.”

She smiled and sighed relieved. With a nod she gave way she wanted him to continue.

“I…” The right words were lacking him. “I’m cold.”

Elizabeth couldn’t help but laugh. “Carson said it could last for a few days. Your body needs to re-adjust.”

“No,” John shook his head. “I’m cold… inside.”

His words were chilling her and she didn’t quite understand his intention. “Inside?”

John rose from the chair and paced in the room for a minute before kneeling in front of Elizabeth. He took her hands in his and gazed deep in her eyes. “When I saw you and knew you were in danger. It hurt me much more than I thought it would … I wasn’t able to help you. I could only watch and I felt…”

Silence followed and Elizabeth swallowed against the lump in her throat. She had felt equally powerless when John had gotten shot and captured inside the crystal.

“I’ve made the right decisions and still I endangered you.”

“John, it…”

“No,” He cut her off again. “I’m cold inside, not complete.”

Elizabeth could see how difficult it was for him to talk about his feelings like this. And frankly she had trouble controlling her own emotions. She smiled and stroked his cheek. “I love you.” She said and saw his eyes grow in surprise.

John felt a strange frown on his forehead. Yes he had wanted to say that to her. He let out a laugh. “Yeah.”

“It’s okay,” she said and felt his muscles relax. “When I was about to get shot I did one more thing. I had to tell you that I love you and when I did, things changed. I don’t know which part the alien understood, but he gave me a chance.” She cupped his chin and lifted his face so their eyes met again. “You saved us, not me.”

John shook his head, not believing her words. “I feel cold inside without you.” He was glad the words had finally come out right. “Now, You saved us, not me.”

Elizabeth now laughed too. “We’re probably going to debate about this, but better make it another day.”

He smiled and the familiar gloat in his eyes returned. “I’m glad you’re okay and I know I’m the worst guy on Atlantis expressing feelings and so, but…”

“I know,” she said.

John sighed. The heavy load from his mind had been lifted and she helped him carry it. “I’m still cold.”

His puppy eyes made her shake her head.

“Really,” He added seriously. The grin from cheek to cheek followed only moments later.

Elizabeth could torture him by doing nothing, knowing he wouldn’t make the first move. But he had been through enough torture for one day. She gently pulled his chin up and carefully pressed her lips on his. The taste was wonderful.

It was a short kiss, but John needed a while to recover from it. A warm stir spread inside and his heart was pounding rapidly. He leaned over and returned the kiss. This one was deeper, longer and even sweeter than the first. “I love you too,” He breathed between the kiss and the next one.

Those words coming from him made her feel special, very special. Her thoughts briefly returning to the bottom of the Ocean, where the alien lived happily with his family and the mess hall, were two of her people were sitting hand in hand, watching each other. So long had she denied herself from the right of having feelings. But after today she not only realized she had them, but more importantly knew he did too. A family was a thought in the future, but kissing, holding hands was something of the moment. The present sitting on his knees right in front of her, wrapping his arm around her and kissing her deeply. She would cherish each and every moment together with him from now on.

~~~ The end ~~~