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Last Stand

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It was Dr. Zelenka's idea, and Ronon thought that must have really angered McKay, because it was working. But Ronon didn't care whose idea it was.

Wraith were dying.

Or really their hive ships were—from a virus that didn't touch humans, didn't even touch the Wraith, but was killing all their ships, turning their darts to mush, making the hives sick, eating away pieces to leave them drifting helplessly in space, all thanks to the virus. This was much cleaner, a much better idea than that stupid one of trying to change the Wraith into something they were never meant to be. This was taking out their technology from underneath them, reducing them to almost the same level as the humans they fed upon.

And since Michael was dead, and Todd, too—

[There'd been a flat look in Sheppard's eyes when he'd heard the rumor about Todd, killed by some underling who'd wanted to rise in power. Sheppard had looked...relieved, but still upset, and Ronon wanted to punch a wall, or maybe even John, for letting himself get tied to a Wraith, even one who'd saved John's life once, even one who'd helped save his Earth.]

—there were no Wraith with the necessary knowledge about viruses to save themselves.

They tried, though. They added some screening device to the culling beams to filter out the humans who carried the virus in vials in their pockets or dusted on their clothes, but by then there were only fifty or so hives left, and McKay responded by adding the virus to the Rings of the Ancestors somehow so the darts themselves brought back the newer, improved virus, and then there were fewer than thirty hives, so even when the Wraith stopped flying darts through the Rings there less than twenty hives left, and they tried to hide and picked only the most far-reaching human populations for feeding.

But then Atlantis hunted them down using the Daedalus carrying cloaked jumpers, which zoomed in dropping "dirty payloads," as Sheppard called them, and zipped away, and they lost Jumper Ten and Malika and Horowitz and Kalamir, and the last of the sickly hives settled down on five different, well-populated planets and the Wraith dug in for their last stand.

Sheppard said it would be messy but he didn't figure it would be long. The Lanteans had the weapons, the air, and more strategic experience in fighting ground wars.

Rodney said the Lanteans had the technology.

Teyla said they had the allies of countless worlds to draw upon.

Ronon figured they had ten thousand years of hatred on their side.

And an enemy who could no longer run.


Teyla remembered when men came to her tent dressed in strange clothing, carrying many weapons and claiming to be traders. One of them looked straight through her, but the second, the younger, she believed saw her. They forged a friendship that night, one wrought of danger and death, a bond of blood and despair and grief.

Her friendship, over the years, had been tested many times. Many times she thought herself lacking in rationality for trusting in people who had so little experience in the enemy they fought, or investment in the war they'd chosen to take on.

She chose John for her son's second name, not only because John Sheppard came for her when she was lost, but as a reminder of her faith in him for those times her belief faltered.

And now her faith, and years of pain and striving, were coming to remarkable fruition.

The Lanteans, with the aid of all of Pegasus, were bringing an end to the Wraith forever.


They were all doomed—seriously doomed. Oh, Rodney knew overall they would be victorious—that stood to reason. They had the numbers, they had the firepower, and they had Rodney's gigantic brain.

But Rodney doubted he would survive. And Ronon was sure to go berserker and die carelessly. And Rodney was pretty sure Sheppard would find a way to fly himself in with a bomb at some point. It stood to reason—the man's gene had led to the Wraith being woken early. He was carrying a guilt load the size of a supertanker. There was no way he would allow them to fail. If their intel was correct, there was only one Queen left, and Sheppard had, of course, assigned himself to the team responsible for wiping her out by any means possible.

So, they were doomed.

Oddly enough, though, Rodney found himself almost heartened by the thought.

It was nothing out of the ordinary, after all.


John brought Jumper Two in for a less than graceful landing at the rendezvous point and pushed himself out of the pilot's seat with a groan. After fourteen hours in the cockpit, his ass was completely numb.

He still couldn't believe he flew a spaceship for a living. If he died tonight, he was at least grateful he'd had a chance to experience this. Even if fourteen hours was a bit much.

His radio clicked. "Colonel Sheppard, this is Dr. Talwar, come in."

"I copy, Doc. Are you down?"

"Yes, Colonel. The, ah, packages have been delivered."

John could hear the humor in the biologist's voice. Every ATA resource they had was being utilized on this mission. It went against the grain to use a scientist on a strictly military operation, but they needed every pilot they had, and Talwar had been adamant. He was ex-military and had been on Atlantis since the beginning.

"Copy that. Good work, Dr. Talwar. Get some sleep. We have..." John looked at his watch, "...eight and a half hours before we're a go."

"Yes, Colonel. You have a good rest."

John thought that was pretty unlikely. His brain was spinning with the details of the op, a five-point attack being coordinated across the galaxy. The math Rodney had finagled to work out the timing across hyperspace and wormholes had made John's head ache.

To make matters worse, his team was broken up. They'd needed to divide up their skills. The Travelers had Rodney aboard—and wasn't that a hoot, imagining Rodney mixing it up with Larrin. But he was needed to baby along the cannons he'd installed aboard her ship for this battle.

Teyla was leading the Athosian and Genii attack squad that was going after the cruiser on P7V-281. It was the smallest and most exposed of the ships, but they were also the greenest troops. Atlantis had provided enough C-4 to make even Kolya happy; too bad the son of a bitch had made John kill him before he could see the benefits of real collaboration.

The Daedalus should have finished dropping them all at their rendezvous point earlier today and would already be en route to P4N-287 via hyperdrive. On board was Caldwell and two of SG-1's finest, Cameron Mitchell and Colonel Carter. John almost lost his jaw when Landry offered them up.

Maybe that old breach had finally healed.

The Coalition mercenaries, led by Lorne and his marine pilots and some Lantean marine extras just ferried by Talwar and John, were all safely tucked away on P9X-232. So maybe John should finish up his post-flight check and power down the jumper already, because over in the main camp, his last teammate was waiting.

Thank God Ronon would be with him tonight. John wasn't sure he could do this without him.

"Hey," Ronon said as John approached the fire, "was worried you were gonna miss lunch."

"Not a chance," John said. "I spent seven hours in a jumper with fourteen marines, and another seven hours back, all because we couldn't gate to the stupid planet. There wasn't a speck of food left."

"So, you're hungry."

"I'm hungry." John grabbed a hunk of nameless meat directly off Ronon's plate and shoved it into his mouth.

Ronon smirked. "That's pretty uncivilized."

John hardly chewed at all before he swallowed. "My mom tried with me, but that didn't work out so good."

"Come on, we'll get you a plate of your own."

Ronon dragged him over to the mess tent. Everyone was laughing and jostling around in the kind of high spirits John could recognize. He was feeling it himself, pretty much ready to jitter out of his skin, so after he'd eaten his fill he nudged Ronon with one elbow and gave him a side-nod, and Ronon led him back to the tent he'd set up for them both.

John grinned with approval. Ronon had managed to grab a spacious commander's tent, and it was nicely situated at the far side of the camp sheltered among some trees.

"You got my dopp kit and gear?"

"Right here."


While Ronon zipped up the tent, John brushed his teeth and shrugged out of his shirt to give himself a wipe down. The jumpers had fresh water, but fourteen hours was a long time to be sweating it out in a closed space.

"We need to secure the gates," John muttered. "That's critical. Everything else hinges on that. It's the only way we can get in support if we need it and keep the bastards from turning tail. We've got to get the gates."

"They know, Sheppard," Ronon said patiently. "Everyone knows. C'mere." He slung his arms around John's chest and waist and then swung him up and around in a sort of hug.

John let out a noise, and Ronon laughed.

"What?" John said, indignant.

"You always sound like a reefla when I do that."

"That better not be a rabbit-thing," John grumbled, but he let Ronon push him down onto the sleeping pads and didn't squeak this time when he pulled John on top of him.

Time on top of Ronon was always well-spent, even if they didn't get to do this much, for whatever reason. John didn't let himself think about it too often. Life in Pegasus had a way of fucking with your personal choices.

Then Ronon pulled him down for a kiss, and John didn't think about anything at all, just the taste of Ronon's lips, and the way his hands were large and firm running down the skin of John's back, sliding into his pants to grip his ass.

"Fuck, yeah," John said, and spread his legs so he could roll his hips against Ronon's. There was too much cloth and leather between them for it to be anything more than a tease, but John liked it, liked the way Ronon's breath caught every time John arched back and ground down, and he especially liked it when Ronon grimaced and then growled and pushed him up to get them both unfastened.

John let him, eyes on Ronon the whole time so he could watch as the big guy shrugged off his shirt as well, muscles flexing in the light filtering through the tan walls of the tent.

John thought he was maybe the luckiest bastard in two galaxies. And the unluckiest, too.

"What're you looking at?" Ronon said, arching his eyebrow, but his eyes were knowing. He reached for John's cock, giving him a quick grope and whuffling out his breath in a silent laugh when John closed his eyes and gasped. It was a little too much friction after all the grinding, though, so John wet up his palm, and Ronon let go to do the same, and then John wrapped his hand around them both, Ronon's hand joining his above, and started to move his hips.

God, so good, the squeeze and pull, the way Ronon's eyes gleamed green-gold in the light as he watched their cocks moving in his fist then gazed up at John, tilting his chin, urging him to quicken the pace. John did, bucking his hips and panting softly as they both jacked their hands.

It was a good thing they were both the quiet types, John thought, because this was too fucking good, it was always so good, why had they wasted it? This could be the last time. John could hear the noises of the camp in the distance over the slick sounds of their hands on their dicks, over the harsh panting of Ronon's breath and the faint moan in his own voice, over the bleakness of his thoughts.

He went over first, pleasure rising in his chest, bittersweet, as he shoved down hard, his BDUs pulling up against his balls when his thighs tightened around Ronon's, and he squeezed his eyes shut as he jerked and came over their hands. He felt Ronon ease up on him, and he slowed, too, while he shuddered for a while, but then he rubbed his palm in the new slickness and took over for Ronon, giving him his whole hand, up and down the thick shaft, and Ronon dropped his arms back, his mouth open as he pulsed, eyes open and fixed on John's.

"Yeah," John said softly, releasing Ronon to strip his own cock one last time, squeezing hard for that final pearl.

Ronon blinked.

John smiled and then rolled away to find something to clean up with. His wipe-ups were still by his dopp kit, so he started with those, and then dug out his trusty old wash cloth that had followed him across the galaxy and back, and then back again. He pulled that out and dropped it on Ronon, who was still looking dazed.

It was a good look on him.

John slipped on a fresh T-shirt from his gear bag and then rolled back over. Ronon was stripping down to his undershorts, which were some crazy Athosian things he'd taken a shine to. John was pretty fond of them, himself, since they bore a resemblance to boxer briefs, only a hell of a lot thinner and softer.

"Still worried about the mission plans?" Ronon said, his voice a little hoarse, but a half-smile on his face. That was when John realized he was frowning.

"Not so much." It was warm on this planet, so John didn't bother with getting into the sleeping bag. He just settled on top beside Ronon and plumped his bunched up BDUs under his head as a pillow. "Thanks for that." It wasn't the mission plans. Come hell or high water, the Wraith would be history. It was his people he was worried about. Specifically his team, and most importantly, the big guy lying next to him. "I'm worried about...other stuff."

"Yeah?" Ronon eased onto his side, John turned to see his expression. He didn't look particularly worried, but he did look intense. Keyed up.

Christ, John wanted to be able to say this, for once. "Hate having the team split up." He ducked his eyes away.

"Yeah. But it's a good strategy. And we're going to end this. Ten thousand years of dominion." Ronon sounded fierce, and John met his eyes.

"It's worth the cost."

"It's worth any cost." Ronon's hand gripped his wrist.

"I know, buddy. I just—if something happens—" God, John was so stupid. "You have to know—"

Ronon squeezed John's wrist.

Last chance to say it. So John did. "There's nobody...I'd rather die with."

Ronon stared at him, then kissed him hard, once, before pulling back. "Same with me," he said hoarsely.

"Okay, good. That's good." John smirked. "Except, better not either of us."

Ronon's eyes crinkled, and he shook his head. "Better instead we kill all those du'rakkeem and piss on their burning bodies."

"Much better plan," John said, nodding, and Ronon kissed him again, hot and fierce.

Either way, John figured, the Wraith were going down.


John was impatient. Zelenka was waiting with him beside their jumper, looking nervous. Jumper One had long ago been repaired, but even in the darkness the char marks on the sides were still visible as an ugly reminder. A couple of marines clomped on board to stow their gear, and Zelenka started talking fast, telling a joke, trying to lighten the mood.

"Heisenberg, Goedel and Chomsky walk into a bar. Heisenberg says 'This is very odd and improbable, and I wonder if we might be in a joke, but I cannot be certain.' Goedel says, 'Well, if we were outside the joke we would know, but since we're inside the joke, there's no way of determining whether or not we're in a joke.'"

Ronon huffed impatiently, but John was grinning. Zelenka smiled back at him.

"And Chomsky says, 'Of course this is a joke, but you're telling it wrong!'"

John chuckled. Stackhouse just looked confused. Ronon grunted and clapped Dr. Z. on his shoulder.

"Was that funny?"

"Oh, yes. Is very funny."

"Good. Good way to start a mission." Ronon shared a look with John, who nodded.

"Thanks, Radek."

"Yes. Is my favorite. Now, Sergeant, if you'll help me secure this bomb so it does not explode prematurely?"

"Uh, sure thing, Doc."

Another puddlejumper appeared with a shimmer to land just to starboard, and the rear hatch opened. A team of marines in night camo came hustling out, Lieutenant Cadman at the fore. She jogged up to John and saluted.

"External charges are all set, sir." She handed him the remote detonator, a huge grin on her face.

"Well done, Lieutenant. Any trouble?"

"Not even a little. We successfully evaded their patrols using the LSDs. Just like sliding on soap."

John dismissed her with a salute and handed the detonator to Ronon, who took it with a wolfish grin and slid it into his pocket.

And with the final piece in place, they were a go for the mission. Six jumpers, two borrowed Traveler transports, and eight F-302s. The jumpers would go in dark and unload Alpha through Foxtrot teams to secure the gate. The transports and 302s would hang back out of visual range—Radek had confirmed the virus-ridden hive ship's sensors were down—and then come join the party after the first wave. The jumpers and 302s would attack the hive ship by air, while the ground forces held the gate and took out any Wraith trying to escape.

John tapped his radio. "All: we are go. Everyone to their transports."

With one last glance at Ronon, John strode up the hatch and took the helm of Jumper One.


Ronon used his blaster until he'd expended all his charges, and then he used the P-90 until he ran out of magazines. He used the grenades Stackhouse had given him, and the ones he took from the bodies of the Wraith, which had a less damaging range, but still functioned. He used the stunners he pulled, and then slit their throats to the bone, until his arms were coated in black blood.

And still he killed.

He saw John fighting fiercely near the Ring, Stackhouse beside him, but then lost him again as another wave approached. The marine behind the rail gun fell, and Ronon took over. This one he liked, the power of it was tremendous.

There was a blast behind him, and he heard a yell, but didn't have time to look. There were more Wraith coming, and he was prepared.

The gun grew hot under his hand.


Maybe they should have named it something different. "Operation: Galactic Freedom," or "Mission: Wraithkill". The Athosians had urged for "The Great Purification", but hasty winces from the Earth contingent and a gentle, diplomatic back-chat on the history of Earthian genocide had quickly put a kibosh on that.

No, they'd ended up with the Coalition's phrase that, roughly translated by the Gate, came out as "Project for Future Generations," which sounded pretty wimpy in John's book. Of course, secretly he and the marines referred to it as "Operation: Pest Control," or OPC.

OPC had started with a boner of a mistake.

John hoped he'd get to rib McKay about it. John really hoped so, but the way the breath was wheezing in his chest, the way he couldn't see for the blood, or the fact his left arm was pretty much shredded, he wasn't sure he'd have a chance.

But he could definitely hang this one on McKay, because it turned out synchronizing their timepieces across the galaxy and through wormholes and hyperspace wasn't, apparently, the easy-peasy matter Rodney had implied.

Either that or somebody had jumped the gun.

John's crew had only been lifting off, still forty-five minutes short of zero hour, when their sentry near the Gate reported an incoming wormhole—the Wraith had been alerted to the attack.

No plan was perfect, though, and John could be flexible. They came in with their fighters first. They cleared the Gate of a lot of the reinforcements that were coming through to protect the last Queen, and their bomb run on the hive ship went well. John's troops were only a little behind schedule there, and they broke the back of the defense when most of the remaining Wraith got trapped and consumed by the explosion within the center of the hive ship like roaches in a matchbox.

Maybe that was kind of a heartless thought, but John's casualties had been high. Things hadn't gone as smoothly as they should have, thanks to the early warning and the reinforcements. John wasn't supposed to stumble over a pile of his men, fed upon, nothing more than clothes and skin and bones. Cadman wasn't supposed to be lying next to him with a possible broken back. Dr. Talwar wasn't supposed to get ambitious and release a drone too close to the hive, blowing himself up in his own explosive fire.

Stackhouse. Stackhouse wasn't supposed to throw himself on the Wraith grenade intended for John.

This wasn't supposed to be a ground war, but it had turned into one, one that his troops were winning, goddammit. And as John watched through one eye lying on the ramp of the shielded casualty jumper, he finally caught sight of Ronon, bloody, his leathers torn, stopping to fumble in his pocket and pull out the detonator. The Wraith had somehow been jamming their radio signals since the beginning of the attack, but now that the hive ship's control center was destroyed, John guessed Ronon was going to attempt to trigger the exterior charges.

Ronon raised his arm, and the horizon lit up, framing him in fire.

A moment later the roar of destruction hit John's ears, and he realized he was shouting into it, that they all were shouting in rage, in triumph, as the last pieces of the Queen's hive ship blew into ash. John's face was on fire from the shrapnel wound, but he couldn't stop yelling, his throat burning with it.

Ronon turned and roared, pumping his fist, then went back into battle.


The clean-up took days. There were hunts, with people to guard the gates, so that no Wraith would escape.

There was no lack of volunteers.


Teyla left the infirmary with a blister pack of twelve Tylenol-with-codeine and a pronounced limp. She walked through corridors filled with beaming faces, nodding and smiling at them, but hobbling her way steadily, deeper into the quiet of the wing she shared with the few Athosians who lived on Atlantis.

She limped quietly to her door and swiped the crystal, smiling more honestly now as she saw Kanaan look up from where he was tending to Torren John's fresh undercloth. Kanaan smiled back and held out his hand.

"It is done," Teyla said, and stepped forward into her future.


"Are you sure we can't convince you to stay a little while?" Larrin was practically purring, but Rodney wasn't fooled a bit.

"You just want me for my cannons," he said, backing away from her groping hands.

"Mmmm, you got that right." Larrin's eyes dropped to, oh, his waist level.

Rodney kept backing away. "Listen, I, uh, I have a girl—a woman, I mean, a very beautiful, accomplished, doctor-woman waiting for me back at Atlantis, and—" He realized he'd jammed himself into a corner. "So, look, missy!" he said, jutting his chin, "don't make me sic Sheppard on you."

"Is that a threat? Because Sheppard and I have some unfinished business."

"Oh, I see. Well, I've had enough of this," Rodney grumbled, shoving her to one side and moving to pack his gear. "You could thank me, you know. We had the lowest casualties of any of the teams."

"I know." Larrin sounded serious, and Rodney turned in surprise to find her nodding. "Thanks, McKay. I'd offer you my usual form of gratitude, but apparently that's not your way."

"Oh! Ah. Well." Rodney hesitated, then offered his hand. Larrin took it, seeming puzzled, and Rodney shook. "To victory."

"And the end of the Wraith," she agreed, and for once her smile seemed utterly sincere, and positively beautiful.


When John woke up, it was to the haze of painkillers and blurred, single-eyed vision. He rallied enough to learn that Teyla, Rodney, Ronon and Zelenka were all back, that Cadman's prognosis was still unknown, and that the jury was still out on his eye and arm, and then he crashed again, the fear niggling in his gut enough to push him under.

Nobody hired a one-eyed, one-armed pilot. Maybe he could get a job as a pirate instead.

But beneath the fear, there was the knowledge, deep and sure: they had won. It was over.


The team met for a drink in John's quarters the day he was released. Well, he wasn't allowed to drink, which was a bitter pill—toasting the end of the Wraith with a glass of orange juice was only slightly hilarious for Rodney's bitching.

Rodney had only just gotten over wincing when he saw John's face, anyway.

But they were together, and they were alive, and the Wraith weren't. There would be a time to mourn the lost, but this wasn't that time.

"To us," John said simply, and they all smiled, a little painful, a lot glad.

But it also felt strangely like good bye.


Ronon should have figured the Genii would be the weak link. Not that they weren't good warriors, but they didn't work well with others. They never had. Teyla had eventually rallied the best of them, fighting fiercely until she managed to secure the Gate and request reinforcements, but not before the warning was sent.

Still, it wasn't the Genii's fault they attacked early. That was just a bad slip of fate, Ronon figured. The arrogance of thinking the complexity of the universe was an equation to be solved. Maybe it was, but not in the time they had been given.

The other victories were less hard-won, mainly because the bulk of the Wraith had been protecting the Queen hive. But still, the cost was high. He saw it in Sheppard's eyes—both of them, once they removed the bandages and the swelling had gone down from his injuries. The good news was John could still see from both, although his face was different now with the raw scar slicing across the outer edge and down his cheek.

Ronon didn't think it was only the wound that gave Sheppard that hard look, or the pain of his still healing arm. He might never have the proper use of it again, but that wasn't the cost that weighed so heavily on John's shoulders, and Ronon knew it.

Still, they had defeated the Wraith, and should be filled with the power of that victory. Yet after a few weeks, once the ceremonies for the fallen were done, and after the celebrations as well, a sadness descended over them both.

It was strange. Sadness, like a wave, rising over their heads, leaving them both tired, both sleeping long hours. Or, Ronon would wake up in the middle of the night and feel restless, needing something, he wasn't sure what, and stop by John's quarters, only to discover John missing, disappeared into one of his hiding places.

Why? When they were free? When the Wraith were defeated, dead, destroyed? The nemesis of all humans for ten thousand years would no longer haunt children's nightmares or keep parents awake for fear of losing their lives, their loved ones, their offspring. No more cullings.

No more runners.

Now villages would grow into towns would become cities. Governments would be born. Libraries would be built. Children would be taught. Light would spread throughout the galaxy.

It made Ronon exhausted just thinking about it.

"Hey." John came to join him at the balcony. Below them, the waves rushed in, drew back, rushed in. Endless.

"Couldn't sleep either?"

"Nope." Leaning his good arm on the railing, John faced him. The moonlight was harsh on his scarred face, and Ronon raised his hand to draw his thumb alongside it.

"Pretty ugly, huh?" John didn't sound too concerned.

"No." Ronon leaned in and kissed his bisected eyebrow as gently as he could, surprised by the ache of tenderness that rose in his chest.

John blinked and turned his head. "We, uh, need to talk."

Ronon dropped his hand. "What about?"

Waving his arm, John said, "They're sending Cadman back—it's safe to move her now, and it looks like they can help her better on Earth, get her back on her feet. She's got a good chance." John cleared his throat. "And the thing is, they're not too sure about my arm..."

"They're sending you away," Ronon said flatly. "This is how they repay you—" Anger rose swiftly.

"No, no, hey." John clutched his bicep with his right hand. "It's not like that, okay? This is rehab. But..."


John turned back to the ocean and dropped his head. "Look, the way things work in the U.S. Military, you don't stay at the same posting forever, you know? And if they don't get my left arm back in shape for active duty, they won't be sending me back here. Not because they're punishing me, but because I won't be fit. And sure, I could fight it, I could fight it real hard—I've got friends now, connections—but the truth is...shit." John rubbed a thumb over his scar. "I think I'm done here," he said quietly. "I mean, I could stay somehow, but the only thing keeping me here—"

John didn't finish. He didn't need to finish. He sounded tired, as tired as Ronon felt.

"What would I do if I went with you?"

John jerked in surprise and looked at him, his face naked with hope. "Well, I've been thinking about that. Asking around...put a few feelers out."

"You've thought about it?" Ronon felt that tenderness again, an aching soreness, as if a broken cage enclosed his heart.

"Well, yeah, Ronon." John gripped his wrist. "Thing is, over in the Milky Way they still have a war to be won. And they need guys to train them to fight, and to fly." John's throat moved, his grip tightening. "So, how about it? You wanna teach some more dumb jarheads how to fight?"

Ronon flipped his hand over so he could clasp John's fingers. They interleaved with his, weaving into a whole. "Depends."

"On what? Just ask."

"Teach me how to fly?"

John grinned, his scar less noticeable as it followed the curving of his cheek, of his arching brow. "Tell you what, first hatak we hijack, I'll teach you how to fly. That's a promise."

"Deal," Ronon said, and took a kiss as his seal.

John kissed him back, gratefully, joy on his lips, and Ronon could not regret his decision. He would miss this city, and these people. He would miss Teyla and Torren and Kanaan, and Rodney, and the few who remained of Sateda.

But if the sea was endless, his time was not, and there was only one person he wanted to stand with, to die with.

They stood for a long time, until the dawn rose behind the towers, painting Atlantis the color of the sun.