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The Healer Returns

Chapter Text

Everyone in the Gateroom and control room turned to stare as the latest group of new personnel stepped through the gate.
'Welcome to Atlantis everyone. Your section heads will be down shortly to collect you and get you all settled in. Once you have dropped your gear in your quarters, I will see you all in the briefing room.' Colonel Carter called, eyes drawn to one man in particular. Radek rose from his workstation and walked out onto the balcony, also staring at one man in particular.
'Carson?' he asked in disbelief, rubbing his eyes.
'Aye, Dr. Carson Beckett-Hunter, at your service.' Carson replied, smiling warmly.
'Don't take this the wrong way, but how? You look exactly like Carson.' Carter added, blinking quickly.
'That would be 'cause he's my da. Dinae ask me how it happened but that's my story.' he explained with a shrug, feeling a little self-conscious.
'Come up here Carson, this is something we need to discuss in private.' Carter suggested, heading for her office. Carson nodded and shouldered his bags, heading up the stairs.

He stopped in front of Radek and smiled, offering forth his hand. Radek shook himself out of his stupor and shook hands warmly, still reeling from the shock.
'I think you might need to sit in on this, you may know how this happened.' Carson offered, shaking his head in wonder.
'Of course, I can try.' Radek agreed, following Carson through into Carter's office. He left his gear by the door and sat, Radek leaning against the wall beside his bags.
'Carson never went home during his time with us, there was so much work to be done here in the city.' Carter started, shaking her head in wonder.
'Of that I am well aware. From what my ma told me, somehow he was transported from Atlantis to our home in the highlands twice. The first time was frightening for both my parents, especially when my ma, Emily Hunter, pulled a gun on him. The second time was more joyous and I was conceived. Ma kept praying da would return before it was too late but it wasn't to be. I've never met my da, but I know much about this city and the people within.' Carson explained, shrugging slightly.
'It's only been two and a half years, how can you be in your thirties if this is true?' Carter demanded, leaning forward in her chair.
'I don't know Colonel. Radek, take these and see what you can make of them. Me ma kept security cameras throughout the house and grounds as a safeguard for our protection. Before allowing me to leave for the SGC, she gave me these files, records of my time spent growing up and all the rapid changes I went through. I flew through school in a matter of five months from start to finish. My degree was done in two years, well ahead of any others. I don't know how this happened or why it did, all I know is what I am, the son of a Bounty Hunter and an MD.' Carson replied softly, handing Radek several computer disks. He took them carefully before nodding and slipping out, offering Dr. Keller a small smile as he passed. She returned the smile before approaching the desk, trying not to stare at Carson.
'Dr. Beckett-Hunter, this is Dr. Jennifer Keller, CMO for the expedition. Jennifer, this is Dr. Carson Beckett-Hunter, son of Carson and Emily Hunter.' Carter introduced the slim blonde woman standing behind him. He rose to his feet and turned, extending his hand.
'A pleasure to meet you Dr. Keller. You seem like a smart young lass, I can see why you were chosen to take my da's place.' Carson replied, smiling warmly. Keller looked appropriately stunned by Carson's appearance and that familiar brogue.
'The pleasure is all mine Dr. Beckett-Hunter, I assure you. I thank you for your faith in my abilities, just as your father had great faith in me. You haven't been told about the return we had, have you?' she queried, glancing at Carter.
'Nae, I havenae been told. What happened?' he asked, turning back to Carter as well.
'Why don't you go and find him while I brief Dr. Beckett-Hunter on the situation.' Sam suggested, returning to her chair.
'Okay, I'll be back in a couple minutes.' Keller agreed before leaving to office, vanishing from sight.
'What's going on? I dinae understand.' Carson added, taking a seat opposite her.
'Quite some time ago your father was taken prisoner by a humanised Wraith, we called him Michael. We had no idea what Michael did to Carson while he was on that planet with the entire population of the Wraith hive ship we humanised. Life went on as usual for us until Teyla went missing, almost a year after we lost your father. What we found in that warehouse shattered our understanding of the Wraith and gave us a whole new problem to consider.' Sam explained; smiling as the internal door opened and Keller strode in.
'You are makin' no sense at all Colonel Carter, what are you trying to say?' he demanded, rising back to his feet.
'She's trying to explain me, lad.' a familiar voice called from beyond the second door.
'And who the hell are ya?' Carson demanded, turning to face the door. The instant the stranger strode in, Carson stumbled back into the nearest chair, eyes wide in disbelief.
'Nae, this is not happening. I saw my da die; you're not real. You're a fake, a fraud. You do not belong here, I am the only rightful heir to Carson Beckett's name.' he roared, rising to his feet and advancing on the man before him. Before Carter or Keller could move, Carson grabbed the man roughly by the throat and shoved him against the wall.
'Please lad, let me go. I can explain.' the familiar stranger gasped, hands wrapped around Carson's wrist, struggling to get loose.
'No one can explain this, you're tryin' to steal what is rightfully mine. One of us has to go and it's not gonna be me. This is my place, following my da's footsteps. I didnae age thirty years in two and a half and work my ass off to get here, only to find that someone else had taken my place. This is mine; my whole being is centred on this city. I was born to make this city sing, that is my purpose. You do nae belong here. This is my home. I ne'er want to see you again, leave this city before she throws you out.' Carson snarled before flinging the man aside and storming out, grabbing his bags before disappearing through the internal door.

***#***#***

As Carson stalked down the corridors, he could feel the great city prodding his mind gently, guiding him home. The mighty city spoke to him with a soft voice, calming him and lifting the thick clouds fogging his mind. Without knowing anything about the layout of the city, he walked, deaf, dumb and blind to anything going on around him.

He stopped outside a semi-familiar door and it opened. Smiling slightly, he entered and set his gear on the bed before digging around. He found a suitcase in the cupboard and quickly packed all the other belongings into it before tossing it out into the corridor. Without slowing, he stripped the bed and moved everything, organising everything until he was happy. With that done, he opened his bags and started unpacking, fingers tracing over all the memories he had brought with him. For some reason, he felt the city insist he touch a certain section of the far wall. Shrugging, he rose and crossed the room, reaching out to trace his fingers over a faint line on the wall. Almost instantly, another shelf popped out, locking into place just below eye level.
'Thank you Atlantis.' he breathed, reverently placing several photos up, two of his ma and two of his da. Right in the middle of the group, was a carefully created fake family photo. It was one of his most precious possessions, the only memory of a man he had never known but had given him a lot to live up to. He just stared at it for a few minutes, tears silently rolling down his cheeks.
'I miss you so much ma. I'm scared, I'm alone and I just don't know what to do.' he whispered, lightly tracing his ma's smiling face, staring back out at him. He took some comfort from her photos and went back to his unpacking, bringing out more shelves from previously blank walls.

With the first three bags finished, he turned his attention to the two metal cases still resting on the bed. Again Atlantis prompted him into action and he made a special cabinet appear from where the bed had been before. It was crystal clear with nothing to distort or disturb the treasures laid out inside. Smiling softly, he opened the bigger case and lifted out the first of his treasures, a pair of Desert Eagles with titanium gold plating. These were carefully laid inside the cabinet with gentle hands as though they were the most precious of gems. A 12 gauge Remington shotgun and a beautiful Austrian made Steyr-Mannlicher SSG-69 sniper rifle followed these. These were safely tucked into two of the three upright lines tucked up at one end. A thin glass wall supported the shelves where smaller items could be placed, leaving the left side open and this was where the rifle and shotgun went, two fine cables holding each upright and secure. Next came a second sniper rifle, an American made US M40A1 Sniper. That was secured on the other side of his shotgun, safe until he needed it. A second pair of Desert Eagles joined the first but these ones were just normal ones, each one with an underslung blue laser sight and a top-mounted night sight. The second shelf was loaded with explosives of all kinds; frag, concussion, percussion, smoke, stun, incendiary and sting grenades; C4, lock busters and a few other little bits and pieces. The third shelf held knives and other bladed weaponry; a selection of shuriken, ranging from three points right up to several bigger eight pointed ones; an Extrema Ratio Fulcrum combat knife; a Pro-Tech Tactical Response III flick knife; a Buck Striker Tactical folding knife; a Cold Steel Vietnam Tomahawk and of course his ma's signature knife, a TOPS Knives Armageddon combat knife.

He closed the weapon crate and chuckled softly, eyes sweeping over the complement of weapons stacked in the display case. He was extremely grateful to his ma for insisting he took the weapons on the off chance something went wrong and he needed to call on his shooting and hand-to-hand training. He wasn't afraid to pick a fight if it was needed, as he had already proven to Carter, Keller and the false copy of his da. Shaking his head to clear those thoughts, he opened the second case and removed the foam packing from around the figurines resting inside. Each one was carefully lifted out, brushed off delicately and set on a shelf above the bed. They were beautifully crafted pewter figures of his family, each one represented in their element. His ma was laying prone on the ground, sniper rifle cradled in her arms. His da was standing tall in his lab coat; tablet tucked under one arm and stethoscope hanging around his neck. Standing between them, Carson had a sniper rifle hanging over his shoulder, stethoscope hanging around his neck and med kit resting beside his feet. He was a study in contrasts; the son of a Bounty Hunter and a doctor; trained to wound and kill but also trained to heal and save lives. From under the second foam layer, he dug out several boxes of ammo and a selection of repair kits, covering all his firearms. These were stacked neatly on the remaining two shelves of the clear cabinet before he closed it up and secured the door.

This left just his biggest suitcase on the bed but not for long. He picked it up and settled it on the floor before opening it and digging out the last of his gear. He made the bed quickly, smoothing the soft mink blankets over the narrow bed. He fluffed up his own pillows and settled them in place, feeling more at ease, as his quarters became his home. No detail was missed as he made the place his own, adjusting and fiddling until everything was perfect. His keen blue eyes missed nothing as he worked, moving photos around and rearranging his firearms. A loud bang on the door interrupted him from his settling routine and he grinned, recognising the voice on the other side.
'Consider yourself evicted you fraud. This was my da's room and now it's mine. I will make this great city sing in ways no one else can. This is my city and my home; she speaks to me, which is how I knew where to find what I was looking for. She guards me and will show me my true path. You may look and sound like my da but you will ne'er be my father. You do not belong here, you ne'er will. Can you not feel it? How this city is tryin' to push you out, how she want's you to leave and cease this mirage of the man my da was. You will ne'er be the same man, no matter how hard you try. I am the heir of this great city, born to bring her to life and protect her virtue until the time is right for the final and decisive victory.' Carson growled, crossing the room to throw the door open. The fraud stood there, eyes wide as he took in the changes within the room. Carson couldn't resist reaching out to brush one hand against the wall outside the door. The fraud stared wide-eyed as the entire corridor lit up, sections of the wall sliding back to reveal portraits and landscapes, each one featuring Carson Beckett-Hunter and his triumphant return to the city. Atlantis glowed with new life as Carson awakened the city and let her know he was here for the duration. No one could break the bond they shared, no matter how hard they tried or what they attempted to do. Atlantis adored Carson Beckett-Hunter in a way she had never treasured anyone before.
'Goodbye you fraud, you're time within the city is running out. I am here now and Atlantis no longer needs you as a temporary support.' he added before ducking back inside, the door sealing with a soft hiss.

Chapter Text

Radek rushed into the infirmary and straight up to Carson, eyes wide in shock.
'Carson, come quickly. We need you in the Gateroom.' he instructed, drawing in a few deep breaths.
'I'm a little busy here Radek, what's the emergency?' Carson replied, not looking up from the marine he was patching up.
'It's your father's clone. He's demanding to be allowed to go somewhere else in the Pegasus galaxy. He claims you told him that the city does not want him here.' Radek explained, his breathing evening out.
'That is true Radek; Atlantis doesn't need him anymore. He was just a placeholder until I was ready to step forward and claim my inheritance. This is his only chance to leave. If he stays on, Atlantis will take steps to protect herself and rid her corridors of his presence. I do not make the rules here Radek, I am bound to follow her rules until the final and decisive battle.' Carson replied with a slight shrug. Radek just stared at him, completely dumbfounded.

Carson finished with the marine and turned to Radek again, rubbing tired eyes.
'Okay, come with me and I'll show you exactly what I'm tryin' to tell you.' he offered, heading for the door. Radek nodded slowly and followed Carson out of the infirmary and through the corridors.

They entered the Gateroom to find the fraud standing off to the side, arguing with Carter. Carson smiled softly and wandered over to stand beside the opposite wall.
'Take my hand and close your eyes Radek, let me show you what Atlantis really believes. Let me be the conduit between this great city and you.' Carson offered, right hand pressed against the wall and left hand extended towards Radek.
'But why?' he asked, eyeing Carson cautiously.
'Look, you do not have the gene; Atlantis can't talk to you directly. I am her chosen voice, her chosen speaker. Only through me can you see what she truly wants to show each and every one of the people living here. Trust in me Radek and Atlantis will show you secrets no one else here knows.' Carson replied, smiling warmly. Radek nodded and reached out, grasping Carson's hand, eyes drifting closed. Carson smiled softly as he closed his eyes and opened the connection, letting the message pass through him and into Radek's mind.
'What do you see Radek?' Carter asked, walking over to them.
'I see a great battle over Atlantis, many hive ships, to many too count. Now we are inside the city, in a room I have never seen before. Carson Beckett-Hunter is trying to activate some device but he can't because clone Carson is still in the city. I'm back outside, watching over the city. The shield has failed…Atlantis has been destroyed.' Radek explained softly, head bowed.
'Now, let me show you what could happen if that fraud is gone.' Carson added, moving his right hand on the wall.
'Tell me Radek, what has changed?' Carter pressed, glancing back at the clone of Carson.
'I see the same battle…we're back in that room. The device is responding to Carson's touch, it's glowing blue and green…I can see the battle again, the Wraith ships are exploding, one by one…Atlantis is safe, there are no ships left…I'm back in the city, standing outside the room. Carson is leaning heavily on the device, panting for breath.' Carson broke the connection at that moment, sliding to the floor. Radek swayed on his feet before joining him against the wall, head in his hands.

Carter just stared in wonder as a thin, translucent cable emerged from the wall and lightly wrapped around Carson's neck.
'Hear me speak and learn from your mistakes. I am alive and sentient. I can protect myself as you have seen. I feel, think and experience just as you do. I have emotions just like you all do; I despaired for those 10,000 years I was alone. I was lonely, crying out for someone to be there for me. I sang for joy when you all came through and took up residence within my corridors, following your hearts. I tried to warn you when the Wraith were in my corridors but you could not hear me. I tried to protect you but without a link through which I could communicate, I could not do that. I mourned for every person who died trying to protect me. John heard some of those mourning songs but he did not understand. I knew that the original Carson Beckett was my salvation, the first half of the equation to get that one special child who would be my link to your world on an equal footing. I did what was necessary to ensure that child would be born and would be here well before the final and decisive battle was to be fought. I mourned the deepest when Carson was killed, despite my attempts to save his life. When you brought that creation of the Wraith into my hallowed corridors, I screamed with indignation and tried desperately to show you the error of your ways but you were blind and deaf to me until now. Now I can make you hear me and I can correct your mistakes. That mistake must be removed from my corridors before it is too late. He is standing between Carson and his true destiny. While it walks my corridors, I can never reveal all my beauty to you all for no one here really understands what he is capable of. This is not the first time a Wraith creation has been here, but it will be the last.' Atlantis cried, Carson's voice lifting with every statement of fact. No one said anything, completely stunned by this change of events. The cable vanished back into the wall and Carson groaned, rubbing his temples.
'Now do you see, if he stays I cannot make this city sing, I cannot bring Atlantis to life as she deserves to live. I am powerless to protect this galaxy while that abomination is here, blocking me. He is the key to our salvation and the continued existence of this great city.' he added, carefully rising to his feet, Radek helping him up.
'Thank you for explaining everything to us Carson, now we can take steps to rectify our mistakes.' Carter replied, shaking her head in wonder as she headed up to the control room. Carson nodded and flicked back his lab coat, revealing the handgun strapped to his thigh.
'Shall I organise a security team to ensure he can't come back to cause problems?' Carter asked, leaning on the balcony above them.
'That willnae be necessary Colonel, my ma taught me well. I could use some help though, what'd you say Radek?' Carson replied, offering forth the pistol.
'Are you certain?' Radek asked, one shaking hand reaching for the weapon.
'Of course Radek, I have spares. You take this one and I'll take the other.' Carson reassured the smaller man, drawing the second pistol from under his coat.
'Well, alright then. Has been a while but I am sure it will all come back.' Radek agreed, taking the gun and smiling warmly.
'Okay, a random, safe planet has been chosen. How are you going to play this?' Carter called, grinning softly.
'Use a Jumper, easier to control the entire situation.' Carson chuckled softly as he and Radek grabbed the fraud and headed up the stairs, guns in hand.

***#***#***

Carson could have cheered when they popped out the other side of the gate above a planet.
'Looks like Carter's got a fine sense of humour. Let's do this and get home.' Carson chuckled again as he brought the Jumper down and around, his hands light on the controls. Radek nodded and rose, heading back to check on their passenger.
'Why are you doing this to me?' he asked, glancing up at Radek.
'We're just trying to survive, nothing else. If there was any other options, we would take them.' Radek reassured the shaken man with a slight grin.
'I wish I could believe that, I really do.' he muttered, shaking his head slowly.
'Hey, we could have left you behind in that cell. We did what we could and now we must let you go so we can continue to survive.' Radek pressed, shrugging as he returned to the forward section.
'Don't pity him Radek, you're doing the right thing. With this guy out of the way I can truly bring Atlantis on line.' Carson added with a grin as he eased the Jumper down into a grassy clearing, well away from any local people.

Drawing their sidearms again, Carson and Radek headed back and took their positions.
'Welcome to your new home. Head north and you'll encounter the nearest village in a couple hours. Take this to ensure you stay on the right path and have fun.' Carson commented, pressing a compass into the clone's hand.
'You can nae be serious, this is wrong. Radek, help me out here.' he insisted even as Radek and Carson hauled him to his feet.
'In your eyes, aye, this is wrong. To us, this is the only logical choice. You stay and we all die. You go and we at least have a chance. I can't make Atlantis sing while you're there. It's that simple, we all suffer from your presence.' Carson added as they shoved him out, tossed his bag after him and closed the hatch. He could do nothing but stare as the Jumper powered up and vanished from sight, leaving him stranded and alone.

Chapter Text

Carson gathered all the main personnel in the Gateroom, making everyone sit on the steps as he paced the floor, seeming to be searching for something.
'What are you searching for Carson?' Radek called, just joining the group on the stairs.
'The first control console, it's here somewhere…ah, found it.' Carson replied, stepping back as a new console rose from the floor and locked into position.
'What does it do?' Rodney asked, eyes slowly widening.
'Be quiet and we'll all find out together.' Carson insisted, lightly pressing his hands to the console, eyes drooping closed.

No one said a word as the console started glowing in blues and greens. All around them, the colours melded and moved on any and all surfaces, making the place seem surreal and even more beautiful. The colours danced around them, bringing the room to life. From the walls, ceiling and floor, things started appearing. The floor seemed to melt, the old flooring design vanishing in expanding ripples that swept over the stairs, startling everyone gathered there. The ripples retreated back in towards Carson again, leaving behind an intricate mosaic. Carter really didn't know what to think when it displayed the moment when Carson and Radek had escorted his father's clone out of the Gateroom. The roof became a glistening series of mirrors and chandeliers, reflecting the amazing colours spilling in through the new windows that emerged from behind the plain grey walls around the Gateroom. Radek beamed with pride, amazed at everything Carson had changed.

With the transformation finished, Carson stepped back from the console, letting it vanish back into the floor. He smiled softly as he looked around, also admiring the changes.
'Well, there you go. Who knows what else I'll be able to do…once I get some rest.' he commented, heading for the stairs on shaky legs. Radek rose quickly and hurried to Carson's side, supporting the taller man as they headed up the stairs together.
'Wow, this is really beautiful. Not sure about the floor but still.' Carter uttered, rising and heading up to stand on the gangway and take in the entire image as it was meant to be seen.

***#***#***

After resting for a few hours, Carson again headed out, Radek right beside him constantly. First they hit the labs, bringing new life to the entire area. Then the botany labs, sparring rooms, mess hall and finally the infirmary. He left each place a glowing centre that raised morale dramatically. Everyone spoke highly of all that Carson had done, from bringing more light into the botany labs to awakening new equipment in the labs and infirmary.
'Once I've had a decent meal and a good night's sleep, I'll be ready to do more but for now that is all.' Carson uttered, settling on the nearest bed.
'Of course. You get some rest while I go find you something to eat. You have done more than enough for today.' Radek agreed, smiling warmly.
'Thank you Radek, there's no need to go to any real trouble. I'll have a good feed at dinner.' Carson replied, eyes drooping closed. Radek nodded and settled down to wait, knowing the evening meal was only a few hours away.

Keller poked her head in almost an hour later and smiled softly. Carson was snoring softly on the bed, curled up on his side and facing Radek. The slight Czech was propped up in the chair, also fast asleep, glasses askew on his face as he leant on one hand. Even though he didn't look too comfortable, she left him to sleep and drew the curtains around the bed, leaving them in peace.

***#***#***

People were still talking about everything Carson had done when they entered the mess six hours later, sleep rumpled and barely awake.
'You look like you should be in bed.' Carter remarked as they passed her table.
'Just rolled out of bed and after I've eaten, I'm goin' back.' Carson replied with a barely hidden yawn.
'Sounds like a good idea Carson, you look like hell. Go on, get some food into you and hit the rack, I'll make sure you're not disturbed.' Carter agreed, waving the duo away.

They found a quiet place in the back corner and settled back, struggling to stay awake as they ate.
'Carson, you should be resting. Go on, I'll have the mess staff keep your meal until you're more awake. Off you go, before I put you on medical stand-down.' Keller ordered, standing tall in front of them.
'Nae, I am fine Jen, I just need to eat and then I'll be okay.' Carson replied, turning on his charms.
'No Carson, food will not help you while you're too tired to even eat. You must rest before you collapse. Already, you have changed so much about Atlantis, now please, get some rest before you burn out.' Radek argued softly, one hand lightly folding over Carson's shoulder. Carson nodded slowly and cautiously rose, swaying slightly on his feet.
'Will you be alright getting him into bed?' Keller asked, turning her attention to Radek as he slung Carson's arm around his shoulders.
'Of course Jennifer, this slight frame still has great strength. I will get Carson safely tucked up safely in bed. Good night.' he replied, guiding Carson around the table and towards the door.
'Goodnight to you both. Sleep well Carson, dream of home.' Keller added before returning to her table.

***#***#***

With some effort, Radek got Carson back to his room and inside.
'Here we go Carson, your very own bed. Come along, let's get you tucked up and back in dreamland.' Radek tempted, flicking back the covers with one hand as he eased Carson down.
'Radek, will you stay?' Carson asked softly, shrugging out of his jacket.
'I was planning on that anyway Carson. You are very like your father in that way. As soon as my back is turned, you'll be up and trying to do more. Hush now, lay back and sleep.' Radek replied, laying Carson back with a light push and kneeling to remove his shoes before tucking the Scot in and crossing the room to sit on the couch. Carson rolled to face the smaller man, fighting to stay awake.
'Goodnight Carson, sleep well.' Radek uttered, relaxing on the couch.
''Night Radek. Sweet dreams and sleep well.' Carson replied before he drifted off.

Chapter Text

The entire city shone with life, rejoicing Carson's presence constantly. He had finally finished his first tasks, and the entire city's décor had changed. His face was on every wall, different moments in his life revealed and on display for everyone to see. It was a little weird for him to see these moments displayed in such a way but he gave it little thought, choosing instead to just accept the gift he had been given for what it was. Another bizarre event in a galaxy where the strange was normal.

Carson spent so much of his free time with Radek that he couldn't help but notice the way Atlantis was muttering soft words in his mind. She was encouraging him to make a move but his mother's words still rang clear in his mind. It was a constant battle; one he knew would go on for a long time. Finally, he made his decision and set off down a path he knew could cause problems with his ma but he couldn't argue with or resist Atlantis' calls.
'Sorry ma, I've got to do this.' he muttered under his breath, closing his laptop and rising.
'Where are you going Carson?' Jen asked, looking up from her laptop.
'There's something I've got to do. I'll be back as soon as I can.' he replied as he left the infirmary.

He found Radek in the Jumper bay, cursing bitterly.
'There's no need for such language Radek.' he chuckled as he entered the Jumper, standing over Radek, half buried inside one of the forward consoles. He heard a dull thump from inside, followed by more cursing as Radek worked his way out of the console.
'Please, do not do that.' Radek scowled, rubbing his forehead gently. Carson knelt quickly, turning on his best smile.
'Sorry about that Radek, forgot you were so jumpy. There's something I need to discuss with you, in private.' Carson replied, squeezing Radek's shoulder gently.
'I am quite busy today Carson. How about I meet you in your quarters at 22:00 tonight?' Radek offered, returning the smile slightly.
'Aye, that sounds good to me. See you then, I'll be waiting.' Carson agreed before rising and striding out, grinning to himself.

***#***#***

That night, Carson set everything out for an evening of seduction. Some of Radek's comments were stuck in his mind, assuring him that he was on the right track here. Candles flickered all around the room, bringing a soft effect to the harsh lines of the room. The scent of freshly brewed coffee filled the air, wafting delicately on the ocean breezes. Soft music played in the background, adding the final touch to the room. Carson didn't particularly like the music but for Radek, he would make the sacrifice. After one last check of the room, he vanished into the bathroom to clean up and shave before Radek arrived.

He emerged from the bathroom with five minutes to spare and quickly dressed, slipping into his favourite old jeans and a battered old black tee with the sleeves torn out. Thinking for a minute, he yanked that shirt off and tossed it back into his closet before withdrawing a neatly pressed red button-down shirt and slipped it on. He was just finishing tucking his shirt in when the door chimed. He smiled warmly as he walked over and opened the door, choosing to go against his mental abilities for one night. He wasn't the kind of man to rub it in that he was special over so many others.

Radek stared for a minute, looking down at his own civilian gear before grinning back.
'Do come in Radek, we have so much to talk about.' Carson invited the smaller man in, stepping out of the doorway.
'Thank you Carson. What was it you wanted to talk about?' Radek asked, walking over and settling on the couch.
'There's no need to swing straight into business Radek. We're always so busy, why not just chat for a while before getting down to the important matters. Coffee?' Carson replied, shrugging quickly.
'That would be wonderful, thank you. You are quite right, is nice to just sit and talk.' Radek agreed, leaning back into the cushions. Carson nodded and busied himself making the coffee before joining Radek on the couch.

***#***#***

The evening progressed well as they relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. Finally, Carson felt that it was time.
'Radek, there's been a few times when you have said things that have made me think.' he started, setting his coffee mug down.
'I hope I said nothing to offend you.' Radek offered, turning to face Carson a little more.
'Nae, nothing like that. You speak of me da in a different way to other people here. You give a more personal look into his life here. Did you have something special with him?' Carson asked, smiling softly. Radek looked decidedly nervous, refusing to meet Carson's warm gaze. The uncomfortable silence stretched out, making Carson worry he had pushed to hard.

Finally, Radek turned back to him, pain and sorrow written across his face.
'I loved your father, more than I have ever loved another. He was very special and brightened my life considerably. Carson was my life and when we lost him, I was devastated. While everyone felt the loss, no one in the city felt his loss as much as I did. We had something wonderful, something no one could destroy but a simple mistake brought everything tumbling down around me.' he explained, two tears falling silently down his cheeks.
'I'm sorry Radek; I shouldn't have pushed so much. I know I am not my da but would you be ready to try again? Are you willing to open your heart again and try to find love with me?' Carson asked softly, reaching out and lightly tracing his fingers over Radek's cheek, wiping away the tears.
'I have longed to find love again for so long but no one here has turned my head. I am desperate to find love again, to open my heart again and let someone show me the beauty of life once more. I am willing to open my heart to you, so long as you promise me that you will not leave me like your father did. I could not bear that pain again.' Radek replied, leaning into the touch slowly. Carson smiled warmly and shuffled closer, slowly easing his arms around Radek's slim frame, whispering sweet words into Radek's ear.
'I'll never let you fall Radek; I'm not like my da in that respect. Life and love are more important to me; work takes a back seat after all that. Hush now, I've got you and I'm not letting go.' he whispered, carding his fingers through Radek's hair softly.
'Thank you Carson, I need this right now. Has been too long since I had someone to hold me like this.' Radek replied, eyes drifting closed as he relaxed in Carson's warm arms.

***#***#***

They stayed there for several hours, both men drifting comfortably in the silence. Carson lightly let his fingers drift over Radek's hair, soothing the slim man whenever he stirred.
'Sleep safe Radek, I'll always be here with you.' he whispered, pressing a soft kiss to Radek's hair as he settled back into the soft warmth of the cushions. His eyes drifted closed and he felt a push against his mind, a familiar feeling from his entire life. His mind drifted away, back to the house in the highlands.
"My dearest son, I'm proud of ye." His father uttered, smiling warmly.
"I'm glad you followed your heart Carson, you deserve to be happy." His mother added, safe in his da's arms.
"Take care of Radek, he needs to be loved. His life is full of pain and loss, change that and stay with him." His da sighed, nuzzling Emily's neck lightly.
"I will da, my word is my bond just like ma. I'm thinking of you both, always." Carson mentally replied as Radek shifted in his arms again, whimpering softly.

Carson slowly opened his eyes and looked down, meeting sad blue eyes. Radek tried to smile but it looked strained as he settled close again, tucking his feet up under him.
'You don't have to be strong in here Radek, I won't tell anyone.' Carson whispered, lightly running his fingers through Radek's hair.
'I worry that I will lose you just as I lost your father. I can never go through that again.' Radek uttered, tiny shakes wracking his slim frame as he snuggled in close, the tears falling freely down his unshaven cheeks.
'I saw how my da died and I'm not like that. You don't need to worry about me doing anything that would risk my life. My life is precious, not just to me but to my mother and to you. You're my world Radek and I'm not going to let anything come between us. You never need to fear losing me; it's not going to happen. I know how to use all the weapons in my display cabinet and hundreds of others. No one and nothing is ever going to take me away from you.' he soothed, tightening his hold lightly and pressing soft kisses to Radek's hair.
'I want to believe Carson but is so hard. Your father said similar things and look what happened.' Radek sighed, making no move to pull away as Carson lightly stroked his back with his left hand and cupped his head in his right.
'I am not my father Radek, love is more important that anything else. Given time, I hope you will come to understand what I'm trying to tell you. You do not need to fear losing me Radek, it simply will not happen for many, many years. Hush now, I foresee a long and prosperous future between us, you do not need to be afraid.' Carson tried, a single tear tracing down his cheek.

Chapter Text

It was still quite late at night when Carson shot upright and looked up, listening to the warning Atlantis was screaming out.
'What is problem?' Radek groaned, blinking stupidly as he rubbed tired eyes.
'The Wraith are coming. Atlantis can see seventy-five hive ships and hundreds of cruisers. They will arrive in three days.' Carson replied, quickly dressing and strapping his Desert Eagles into place on his hips.
'Are you sure?' Radek asked, also quickly getting dressed.
'There is no mistaking it. The Wraith are coming in enough numbers to completely destroy Atlantis and everyone still living here. I can save Atlantis but there is great danger to anyone left outside the command room. You and I will be safe Radek but we must evacuate everyone else from the city.' Carson explained, yanking on his jacket and charging from the room, the sound of Atlantis' threat alarm echoing through every corridor and room.
'Grab only what personal possessions ye can carry and head for the Gateroom, this is an emergency of unprecedented levels! Leave anything that requires electricity, Atlantis needs them!' Carson bellowed, the PA system repeating his message over and over, through every speaker and headset.

He raced into the control room and instantly started rerouting power, knowing Atlantis would need every second of the three days to build enough power for the defence of her great bulk.
'What's the emergency?' Rodney demanded, sounding extremely agitated.
'There's no time to explain, just hurry Rodney. Anyone left in the city proper when Atlantis defends her bulk against the imminent danger will be instantly obliterated. There is only one safe place but there's only enough room for two there.' Carson snapped, stealing power from everywhere but making sure there was enough power left to make several connections through to Midway.

Within minutes, people started congregating in the Gateroom with armloads of personal items and they all looked to Carson and Radek, still frantically organising everything up in the control room.
'What's the emergency?' Rodney asked again, glaring at Carson.
'Atlantis has sensed seventy-five hive ships and hundreds of cruisers approaching us. They will arrive in three days. There is only one safe place in the city and only two may enter. Radek will be accompanying me down there. This is why I was born; Atlantis and the Ancients knew this day was coming. The reason I asked you to leave all electronics is because Atlantis will be drawing every last ounce of power from them and adding it all to the massive electrical charge that will build in the corridors. You are all going to have to return to earth via Midway III. There's no time for arguments or delay, anyone left outside the safe room will be obliterated instantly.' Carson explained even as Radek started the dialling sequence. Everyone paused for a moment before hurrying forward and racing through the gate. They knew Carson well enough to trust his judgement and his ability to speak for the city. In fifteen years, he had never been wrong so everyone knew not to fool around when he told them to leave.

With the first group safely off Atlantis, Radek waited an hour before reactivating the gate, knowing that would be enough time to clear the space station, even if the SGC didn't believe the story.
'Send as many through as you can, the earth gate just connected. We'll run straight through.' Sheppard called as the connection stabilised.
'Go, run straight to earth. Both gates are in sync!' Radek cried, waving the next group forward. They didn't need telling twice and raced off the mark, vanishing from sight in one massive line. Even Ronon and Teyla ran through, figuring they would be safer on earth than in the Pegasus galaxy with that many hives and cruisers massing.
'Make sure to recall the Daedalus back to earth, we don't want any friendlies anywhere near Atlantis for the next week!' Carson added just as Evan reached the gate. He nodded and waved back in acknowledgement before racing through.

Even with everyone running as fast as possible, it still took another two connections to clear the city of all inhabitants except for Carson and Radek. Carson sighed and shut down the gate, diverting all power down to the safe room.
'There's still a few preparations to be made. In seven hours, it will no longer be safe for us to be anywhere but the command room. We need to gather everything we need to survive a week before that time.' Carson explained, grabbing Radek by the hand and racing away again, this time for the mess.

***#***#***

Carson led Radek down to the deepest bowels of Atlantis, through several doors that Radek had never seen before and into a small room, about half the size of their quarters. They stacked everything neatly against the walls before racing out again, gathering up everything they could think of and storing it away, like a pair of insane squirrels preparing for the winter.

They were both completely exhausted as the seven hours ran out and Carson sealed the door, locking them in the room.
'Why is it no longer safe out there?' Radek panted, taking the canteen Carson handed him and drinking deep. They had enough water to last a month so they could risk a little greed at the beginning.
'Atlantis is building her charge now, draining power from everything that needs power to operate. The doors will seal shut, ventilation will be gone, and everything will be drained completely. We are even pulling in thousands of volts worth of solar energy, with a lot more to come. This room has a direct link to outside via that vent above us so we will not suffocate but anyone else would be dead in seconds, either suffocated or electrocuted as the power pulsed through Atlantis.' Carson explained, activating the console and looking at the numbers scrolling down the screen.
'Surely we would have been safe in the control room if we wore breathing apparatus.' Radek tried, looking up at the small vent in the roof. It was no bigger than the ones he had been forced to crawl through when Rodney's fiddling had almost killed everyone.
'No breathing apparatus could last a week. We'd be dead before Atlantis was ready and I must trigger the attack. This is the only place to trigger the attack from and I am the only one who can access this room. Do not be afraid Radek, we'll be quite safe here.' Carson soothed, drawing Radek into his arms and holding him close.
'I cannot help but be afraid, despite your assurances. What exactly will happen when the Wraith arrive?' he asked softly, snuggling in closer and turning his attention to the data scrolling down the screen.
'Think of it as throwing a star at the Wraith. When they are in range, the shield will be drained and will collapse down completely before Atlantis will launch all that stored energy towards the Wraith, leaving nothing in reserve. The Wraith ships will be obliterated, ending their threat once and for all. There are no more Wraith left, they are throwing everything at us this time, for even they do not know of this place.' Carson sighed, turning away from the display and settling down on their bed in the far corner, his belongings packed up and stacked nearby, along with all of Radek's things. Radek just froze, staring at the data for a few minutes longer before joining Carson on the bed to wait for the Wraith to arrive.

***#***#***

Three days later, Atlantis signalled her readiness and Carson shot to his feet, hurrying over and standing before the console.
'Radek, there's one thing I forgot to tell you. When I showed you that vision, I cut it short. The trigger I must give Atlantis could kill me, she needs my strength now.' he uttered, shoulders drooping as Radek stopped dead and the book he reading slipped from lax hands.
'You promised we would have a long and happy future ahead of us. Why did you lie to me?' he demanded, glowering at Carson as he stood before the console, trying to relax.
'We've had fifteen years of pure joy Radek and if I can, I'll return to you again. Atlantis might not need all my strength; I might live through this yet. Come here luv, if this is our last goodbye, let it be as sweet as the last fifteen years.' Carson explained softly, turning to Radek and offering his hands. Radek stared for a moment longer before walking over and throwing his arms around Carson's waist, sealing their mouths together in a passionate kiss.

They broke apart slowly and Carson lightly ran his fingers through Radek's hair and over his unshaven cheeks.
'Do not cry for me Radek, save your tears until we know the truth. Whatever happens, do not leave this room until Atlantis opens the door for you, she knows you are my chosen one. Whatever you do, once I make the connection to Atlantis, do not touch me until I fall, Atlantis may take your strength as well if you touch me any sooner than that and I don't want you killed in my place.' he whispered, pulling a syringe from his pocket and stabbing Radek gently in the shoulder.
'What are you doing?' he asked softly, cupping Carson's cheek lightly.
'Atlantis helped me create a serum that would give you the power to speak directly with her just as I can. You still do not have the ATA gene but this will give you an advantage here in Atlantis. She knows I love you and will treat you with the same respect as she has treated me.' Carson explained softly, tossing the empty syringe into the bin nearby before enfolding Radek in his arms again.
'Thank you Carson, for everything. Goodbye milácku, I will always hold you in my heart.' Radek whispered, unable to hold back the tears.
'Be strong dautie, come what may. Goodbye dearest Radek, you will always be my only love.' Carson replied before gently propelling Radek away and turning to the console. Radek stood well clear and just watched as Carson lightly placed his hands on the console, closing his eyes.
'My strength is yours, take what you need.' he whispered, putting his life solely in the care of the great city.

As Radek watched in amazement, the console started flashing green and blue, the colours forming a steady rhythm around him. It flashed out Carson's heartbeat, even as Carson threw his head back and screamed; locking his knees and forcing himself to stay standing as Atlantis took what she needed to finish the energy blast she was going to lob at the Wraith.
'Please don't kill him Atlantis.' he whispered, taking a firm hold on their possessions to keep himself from racing over there to support Carson. He felt a reassuring push against his mind and looked up, a frightened smile crossing his face.
"Do not be afraid Radek, Carson will live again even if his sacrifice does kill him. The Ancients will protect his body and reward him well for all he is doing." she reassured him, her presence in his mind enfolding him in a warm feeling.
'Thank you Atlantis.' he whispered, watching over Carson and silently praying for his survival.

Above them all, the Wraith ships started sending out thousands of darts as Atlantis gathered the last of the needed power, dropped the shield and discharged, sending the massive ball of energy up towards them all. They could do nothing as the pure energy overwhelmed them, destroying everything it touched. The ships all exploded and burnt away to nothingness, completely destroying every last trace of the Wraith and freeing the Pegasus galaxy from harm.

Down in the safe room, Carson collapsed back, landing heavily on the ground with a faint groan. Radek released his hold on the crate and raced over, dropping to his knees beside Carson and gently rolled him over before holding him close to his chest.
'Carson, can you hear me?' he asked softly, stroking Carson's hair lightly.
"I'm sorry Radek, I took too much from him. I fear I may have killed him, despite my best efforts. Forgive me." she whispered, a faint song reaching his ears as she mourned the loss of Carson.
'Do not give up hope Atlantis; Carson will live. You said so yourself.' he sighed, not taking his eyes of Carson as he rocked his lovers prone form slowly.
"I know Radek but I took too much, he gave too much. He would not leave me and I could not break the connection without his agreement. I wanted to throw him aside and take the last of the needed power from the sun and the waves but he would not let me. Carson took responsibility and refused to give anything less than his all. I truly am sorry Radek." she added, a slight waver in the presence he felt around him.
'I do not blame you Atlantis; this is not your fault. Carson is such a caring and giving man, there is nothing either of us could have done to change his mind.' Radek replied, not tearing his eyes away from Carson. Even though he accepted Carson was gone, he still couldn't help but feel betrayed as Carson ascended, leaving him behind to face the questions of the returning Atlanteans.

***#***#***

The next thing Carson was aware of after giving all his life for the city, was standing on an outer balcony, facing three men and three woman dressed all in white.
'Well done Carson, you have ended the Wraith threat once and for all. We are proud of you.' one of the woman rejoiced, a warm smile crossing her beautiful features.
'Are ye Ancients?' Carson asked softly, glancing back at the city and his grieving lover hidden inside.
'Yes Carson Beckett-Hunter, we are Ancients. You have done very well, and in return we will grant you anything you care to ask for.' another woman replied with a fond smile as she looked at him.
'We helped with your conception and your rapid aging because we knew this day would be coming and Atlantis would need her protector when the time came.' one of the men explained, resting his hand lightly on Carson's shoulder.
'Think carefully, you can ask for selfish reasons or you can ask for those you care about.' another of the men offered, raising one hand and suddenly the walls between Carson and Radek were clear and Radek seemed to be so close Carson could reach out and touch him.
'I want ta go home and I want ta take Radek and all our possessions home with me. Me ma will be worried for me, I have no' seen her in almost sixteen years.' he replied, no trace of doubt in his mind.
'Your mother wishes to see you again as well. Three of our brethren have been watching over your mother, protecting her until this moment. We will return you to Radek first so you can organise your possessions around Radek and yourself. The journey to send you home will take much from us but now that we do not have to worry about the Wraith, we are not afraid to risk so much.' a different woman agreed, smiling softly at him.
'Thank ye all so much. Just before ye send me back ta Radek, can ye tell me if me da's clone is safe? I feel terrible for sendin' him away like tha'.' Carson sighed, watching Radek as the older man wept for him.
'He is safe and well. The planet on which you deposited him respects him and he is taking good care of them all. Your friends will think you died in the attack, sacrificing two lives to save millions. If you so wish, you can record a message for them; we will see that they receive it. Go now Carson Beckett-Hunter, you have a lover to comfort and a mother to reassure.' the third man grinned softly, waving Carson away.
'Thank ye once again.' Carson whispered before turning and walking towards Radek, joy flooding through his frame.

***#***#***

Radek jumped as he felt warm arms wrap around his shoulders and hold him close.
'Dry yer eyes luv, I'm still here. Atlantis was right; the Ancients rewarded me richly for my sacrifice. They have returned me ta a corporeal form and have agreed ta send me home. Ye're coming with me, along with all our possessions.' Carson whispered, rocking him gently. Radek broke free and turned, throwing his arms around Carson's neck with a delighted cry.
'Atlantis and I both feared the worst. Please do not scare me like that again Carson.' he uttered, kissing him deeply.
"The time has come for us to part and I want you to know that I will miss you both terribly. Remember Carson, you can record a message for your friends and it will be delivered upon their return in a few days. By then you will both be safe back on earth, living a peaceful life together." Atlantis added softly, wrapping them both in a warm feeling as they got to their feet. They both just stared as Atlantis revealed the video recorder she had kept safe for just this moment. Carson carefully picked it up and clicked it on, setting it on the console and lining it up so they were both in the shot.
'My friends, if ye're seeing this, it means the Wraith have been destroyed but at a cost. Do not mourn for us for we are not truly dead. We will live on for eternity with the Ancient's, for this is their gift ta us. We grant ye peace and safety in the Pegasus galaxy, do no' waste this gift.' Carson started, slipping his arms lightly around Radek's shoulders and holding him close.
'Tell my parents gently; they are so old now. There is little point even trying to find Carson's family, his mother is always on the move. Just know that we give you this gift willingly and with the ultimate of respect and admiration for all of you. Be safe in the future and keep watching the skies, we're up there somewhere.' Radek added, smiling softly up at Carson.
'Goodbye my friends, we will always remember you all, no' only for yer individualities but for the way we worked as a team. We love you all, as brothers and sisters and we are proud to have known you all.' Carson grinned, pressing a soft kiss to Radek's hair.
'Goodbye everyone, never forget us.' Radek finished, reaching over and switching the recorder off. Carson quickly plugged the recorder in, downloading the video and setting everything up before turning to their luggage. They quickly organised everything and looked up, grasping hands lightly.
'Goodbye Atlantis, I will treasure our time together.' Radek uttered, reaching over to lightly run his hand over the nearest wall.
"Goodbye Radek and Carson, be safe and live long and happy lives." she replied, dimming the lights as the Ancients gathered their strength and whisked the lovers and all their possessions away, sending them on the long journey home.

***#***#***
***#***#***

Emily sighed as she sunk onto the sofa, gingerly digging several bullet fragments out of her calf. It was days like this she wondered about retirement but the thought of having nothing to fill her days quickly quashed the idea.
'Wherever you are Carson, I hope you're safe and happy.' she whispered, dabbing at the blood flowing from the wounds and carefully picking out another piece.
"Your son will be home soon Emily, along with his darling Radek, the light of his life." a faint voice whispered in her mind, startling her and causing her to drop the forceps in her hand.
'Who's there?' she called, going for the gun under the cushion just as she saw a bright light flash in the corner of her eye.
'What's the matter ma?' Carson asked, setting his carry bags down and racing over to her.
'Carson! It's good to have you home. I just heard a voice telling me you were coming home soon, along with the light of your life, Radek.' she cried, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tight.
'Don't worry about tha' voice ma, its just yer guardian angels watching over ye. What happened this time?' he grinned, noticing the blood spilling onto the towel under her leg.
'Someone got in a lucky shot, that's all my son. Is it true, did you bring your lover home with you?' Emily sighed, rolling over to look behind her.
'Aye mum, I did. Radek Zelenka, meet me ma, Emily Hunter. Ma, this is my lover Radek.' Carson beamed, waving Radek over to join them. Emily just blinked stupidly, glancing over at her bedroom and the large cast photo just visible on the door.
'It is truly an honour to meet you Radek after watching you for so long, I have heard so much about you.' she grinned, shaking his hand warmly as Radek shot Carson a quick look of concern.
'It was nae me Radek, take a look in ma's bedroom, tha' will explain everything.' Carson explained, pointing towards her room even as he knelt to finish patching his mother up.

Radek couldn't help but stare as he entered the bedroom, turning slowly to take in all the pictures and articles.
'Who told you about Atlantis?' he called, reaching up to lightly brush his fingertips over a shot of Rodney and he arguing in one of the labs.
'Carson told me, the very first time he arrived here. I didn't believe it in the start but as time went on, I realised he had always been telling the truth. I watched with interest to see how things would change and still managed to find joy even though my highland prince was gone.' Emily explained, smiling softly at her son.
'I see; is good to know just how much Carson trusted you.' Radek replied, grabbing a pen out of his pocket and pulling down one of his best shots. It was taken in lab 4, just after Rodney had tried to power up the generator to get Cadman out of his head. He signed it quickly and returned it to the wall before joining his lover and Emily back in the main room.
'It's just a shame I'll probably never get to meet the rest of the main seven, I feel as if I know them personally. I know I'll never meet Elizabeth but just to sit and talk to John and Evan would truly be an experience. Were I younger, I'd even consider sparring against Ronon or Teyla. I'm content with what I've got though, a loving son and a wise man who loves him very much.' she sighed, waving Radek to the nearest chair. Carson chuckled softly and looked up from his work, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
'Why don't ye tell Radek what ye told da on his first visit here, about yer favourites?' he asked, grinning softly.
'Cheeky boy, but okay. When Carson first arrived and saw all my Atlantis posters, I told him about my top three favourite people in the city. He was first, ye're a close second Radek and Ronon came in third. He seemed quite happy with that, even a little awed that I saw him that way.' she chuckled, smacking Carson lightly on the back of the head with the cushion.
'I truly am honoured that you saw something special in me. Although I never got as much screen time as others, I was happy with what I got. Any particular favourite moments?' Radek grinned, relaxing in the soft chair with a contented sigh.
'Yeah, got a few actually. Your excited explanation of Atlantis in Czech, only to find out you couldn't actually tell your loved ones any of the story you wanted to tell. Carson's first meeting with Ronon was amazing, not only for Carson's courage but for the speed of which Ronon recovered. Watching you and Evan going at it over that game that wasn't a game was also pretty good. But, I'd have to give the episode entitled quarantine my best marks. Ronon and Keller's almost kiss, John's climb up the tower, your pigeon photo and watching you climb through the vents, all classic moments. I did think Carter was a bit harsh on you in that transporter, but then, we can't please everyone in life.' Emily replied as Carson finished stitching up the bullet wounds and rose, quickly getting rid of all the mess before perching on the arm of the chair, one arm going around Radek's shoulders.

Chapter Text

When the Atlanteans returned and saw the message Carson and Radek had recorded for them, along with all the data Atlantis had compiled for them, there was a mixture of deep sadness and great joy. There were tears because of the loss of Radek and Carson, but joy for the final annihilation of the Wraith, bringing peace to the entire galaxy. Word had spread quickly throughout the galaxy and there were celebrations everywhere. Teyla finally said her goodbyes and returned to her people, ready to lead them forward into a brand new life. Ronon also left, gathering the last remnants of his people and rebuilding Sateda to its former glory. Those left behind on Atlantis moved ahead in leaps and bounds, confident in their abilities to deal with any problem that came their way.

***#***#***

On earth, Carson turned his hands to building a second house on the hilltop, building an extension of the dry-stone wall and knocking out a small section for a gate between the two houses. Emily retired from the Bounty Hunting game and turned her attention to her family, teaching Radek how to shoot and hunt in the woods behind the houses and training him to be a crack shot with any weapon placed in his hands, just in case they had to defend their little patch of paradise. At nights they would sit around the open fire in the shared backyard and tell stories, laughing at the antics of those left behind on Atlantis and remembering those who had died within the walls of the great city.

Radek never doubted his choice in letting his family believe he was dead, he had been dead to his father for many years, ever since coming out and telling him he was gay. It was easier this way, giving everyone peace of mind and a chance to move on with life.

Carson also felt a great relief that everyone from the SGC thought he was dead, and an empty coffin lay beside his da, leaving his grandmother to mourn the grandson she never knew. Although he didn't like leaving her to mourn, he knew there was no way to let her know he was alive without bringing the SGC right down on them.

Emily never stopped wishing her beloved Carson would return to them but she knew it was never going to happen, no matter how many guardian angels she had watching over her. Every night, she went through the same ritual, lightly kissing the photo Carson had signed for her so many years ago.

What no one knew was as they relaxed and aged in peace on the hilltop, a lost and confused man was slowly making his way home, guided only by a soft voice whispering constant encouragement in his mind. He didn't know why he had to go up into the highlands and find the little house on the hilltop with a thatched roof and a dry stone wall running around the perimeter.