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Title: The Secret Language of Grief, Book One
Characters: J. Sheppard, R. McKay, C. Beckett, E. Lorne, R. Woolsey, and various OCs
Pairings: None
Warnings: Violence, Mentions of Major Character Deaths
Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and her characters are the property of MGM.  All I lay claim to is my passion for the show and the original characters within this work of fiction
Summary: 20 years after the Wraith decimated Earth in The Great Culling, the SGC is once again ready to resume the Atlantis Expedition. Top brass wants only one man for the job, unfortunately for them John Sheppard has been MIA since the end of the War. A slip-up reveals John's current location, but will he be able to forgive the ultimate betrayal and return?

Chapter 22 - Saying Goodbye
Part One

It was like she was always about to lose her balance. That was the only thing Carrie Sinclair could come up with to adequately describe what she had been feeling for the past several days. The sensation was constant, ever present, and it rocked her center of gravity back and forth until she wasn't sure she would ever find sure footing again.

There was madness in the world once more.

Carrie had worked so hard just to make sense of things after The Great Culling happened. Now it was as if everything was unraveling again around her and the only thing keeping her from being swept back up and away was John's warm hand in hers. She held tight to it, convinced she was the only thing anchoring John to the earth, when in fact it was quite the opposite. He was the one helping her to stay grounded to reality and she clung to him. Never daring to let go for fear that they would both be lost forever if she did.

Carrie was in the back of a spaceship... and honest to god spaceship she'd had to sign a mountain of non-disclosure forms just to be able to see... and it was hurtling her towards a place people had only vaguely hinted at thus far.

Atlantis.

It was a city spoken about in whispered conversations that she couldn't make out entirely followed by concerned glances in her direction. She kept wanting to let go of John's hand to confront them and tell them that she could handle all this. But she never did, and she was pissed at herself because of it.

Carrie was the daughter of a soldier. Her father had lead her family the way he'd led his troops and she'd been navigating minefields and army bases since before she could even walk. All this should have been second nature to her. Yet this world that John had somehow managed to keep hidden from her for so many years was threatening to upend everything she'd ever held as truth and at times, it was frightening.

The upheaval had begun four days ago when Sean Fitzpatrick had stood dripping melted snow onto the floorboards of Eileen's mudroom, coaxing Carrie out the door and away from home with the alluring promise that she would get to see John again. And she'd fallen for it; hook, line and sinker. Like a fool, she'd been drawn in by that man's magnetism and now here they all were, sitting in the back of something they called a Puddle Jumper, headed to an ancient alien city on the thin and desperate hope that it would somehow help to save the man they all loved.

The Puddle Jumper she was in had two rows of bench seating on either side of its rear compartment and every so often during the flight she would pull her eyes away from John's battered face to study her surroundings. The construction was unlike anything she'd ever seen before, and yet it held a hint of the familiar. It was as if her brain was suggesting to her that she was somehow connected to it all. Like the people who had built it were a part of her, only so many thousands of years stretched between her lifetime and theirs that the connection was little more than an abstract idea in the back of her mind anymore. Still, the craft almost felt alive. Unseen systems hummed behind the metal plates at her back and the grated floor beneath her borrowed boots thrummed with a power that coerced through the entire thing. It came up through the soles of her feet. Lingered for a moment in the muscles of her calves before moving up into thigh, torso then arm until finally reaching her hand where the sensation sat sparking between the link her skin shared with John's.

John's gurney had been wedged into the thin space between the two rows of seats. It sat there in that middle ground like some kind of dividing line separating Carrie from the sad yet determined faces of John's friends from before. No one had meant for it to happen, per se, but this unintentional barrier had cropped up between them all and it was inadvertently separating old from new; the clumsy uninitiated from the seasoned grand masters.

They were, all of them, studying her carefully - had been for some time - and she did her best not to take offense at the scrutiny. Their gazes held no malcontent. There was no anger there behind those three pairs of eyes, just an unsettled wariness that Carrie figured she could understand a little. Her knowledge of all this came from a few hurried conversations with General Landry in the hushed hallways outside of John's ICU room. She had an idea now of what they had all gone through, but that was all it was: an idea. These men had actually lived through horrors she could only guess at and this had been their brutal world, not hers. That position demanded respect, so she would sit there under those penetrating gazes and take it. Maybe even try to prove to them somehow that she was worthy of being at John's side just like the rest of them.

People had tried to talk her into leaving. Not anyone here in the jumper with her, but others that had arrived on base once news of what had happened finally reached other parts of the world. They'd tried to convince her how it would be better for all involved if she just forgot about this place and all she had seen... just simply go back to the life she'd left in rural Wisconsin as if none of this had ever happened.

But it did happen and there would be no forgetting. She'd seen too much blood for that now, knew what it sounded like when brains splattered against wall, and she was as much a part of this now as any of them, no matter how hard they tried to push her out.

Carrie shivered, and memories once again impacted her like the bullets had impacted John.

She closed her eyes against the full body shudder that the memories pulled from her and watched helplessly as the shadows of those moments played out again in gruesome detail in her mind. It was like the images had been captured onto a warped and twisted vinyl record. One that tripped over the same terrible moment again and again in her head until it nearly drove her mad. She gripped John's hand tighter and tried not to shake apart under the onslaught.

Her wrists burned with the remembrance of abrasive rope.

Skin prickled as phantom hands were once again manhandling her into a chair, smashing across her cheek when she resisted with all the violence she could find within herself.

It had literally been hell on earth in that cottage, but she didn't open her eyes again to try and escape from the memories like she wanted to. No, she let them continue on because she would take that physical pain any day if it meant she never again had to replay that image of John being shot right in front of her over again in her mind. Or hear that dull thud his head made as hit the wall behind him, knocked back by the force of a bullet ripping through cloth and skin.

Carrie had a new respect for guns. Most people got to live their entire lives without ever having to see what bullets could do to bodies and to brains, and yet Carrie been forced to see those effects not once, but twice, and all in one day. In fact, the unforgiving grey barrel of a gun pointed at her own head should have been the very last thing she ever saw, but John had saved her. He'd pulled that madman's focus away from her and now he was paying the ultimate price.

Carrie opened her eyes again then and ran a trembling knuckle down the uninjured side of John's face, willing him to wake up. There were so many things she wanted to say to him. He'd never stopped trying to save her that day and had even managed to pass her a pocket knife when he'd first arrived in the cottage. It had been small, barely sharp enough to cut into the rope, but she'd done it. Just not in time. Sean Fitzpatrick had still put that gun to Richard Woolsey's head and pulled the trigger like he was angling for first prize at the county fair. His eyes had gone black in that firelight and the memory of that heat licked up her spine. So much so, she stiffened involuntarily, and four pairs of concerned eyes zeroed in on her all at once.

Carrie looked up. She caught Dr. Beckett's eyes first but he glanced away quickly, ashen face covered in a thin sheen of sweat. For a man who had just been poisoned, she was surprised he was sitting up in the back of the Puddle Jumper at all. He was in the seat closest to the wall separating rear compartment from main cockpit with an oxygen tank captured between his knees and head resting listlessly against the solid wall beside him. Carrie didn't know the first thing about cyanide poisoning or what effects the doctor was feeling from it now, but he looked as though he was in pain and her heart ached a little for him.

Even though Carrie had yet to be able to say more than two words to the man since he'd awoken from his coma, she knew she would inevitably like him. He had kind eyes and ones that hinted at intelligence yet also spoke to a vast capacity for empathy hiding somewhere behind those green pools. She knew he was the architect of this desperate little quest they found themselves on and she'd been catching his gaze fairly regularly over the past day or so. He would look her over quizzically, almost as if he was amused by her, but there had been so much going on around John for the past 24 hours that they hadn't actually gotten a moment to sit down and speak.

Sitting next to Dr. Beckett with arms folded across his chest and brow creased in concern, was Dr. Rodney McKay. His eyes rarely ever left John's face and she understood why. It was a hard thing to look away from. Red and blue bruises had blossomed up on his skin to mix with the yellows and greens of past trauma and his eye was still completely swollen shut. The whole effect reminded Carrie of someone she'd visited in the hospital once with her mother as a child. That forgotten family friend had been involved in a car accident. Her vehicle had rolled down a 20 foot embankment and she'd somehow managed to survive, but her face had been a war zone of abrasions, deep cuts, and stitches. John's face mirrored that childhood memory and she had to stop herself from reaching out to ghost light fingertips over the worst of the damage.

The need to touch John was immense, but the pinpricks of heat she felt on her skin as they all watched her closely had Carrie holding back. Her fingers ached with the need to reach out and smooth down the errant hair at his temple. To offer her own clumsy brand of comfort to the man who would neither feel it nor wake up because of it. But her touch held no power here. There was nothing in her built up arsenal of defenses that would stop this all from happening, not if the universe was determined to take John away from them. She would have to rely on her memories of his touch. The feel of his body against hers that night so many days ago when he had been urgent and needing and alive. Not like now where he lay still, unmoving, and burning with fever.

Carrie allowed herself one knuckled caress to the side of John's face then focused her eyes up and away again before emotions could overpower her.

Taking up the seat beside Rodney was young TJ. He looked nothing like his father yet stared over at the older man beside him with all the conviction of a worried son. It was touching really. Rodney had someone around to support him should things take a turn for the worse and Carrie envied them that important connection. She was alone here. Yet every time she locked eyes with the young soldier across the way, his face lit up with an infectious smile she couldn't help but return. He was new to all this too, just like she was, though Carrie suspected he'd been given a far better introduction to it all than she had. Still, he made it a point to try and make everyone laugh and his presence blasted through the ice that had formed around them all like a ship built for the sole purpose of clearing clogged harbors.

The final seat in the row was occupied by a man people had been whispering about ever since Carrie had been able to think about something other than what had happened in that cottage. Colonel Evan Lorne was quickly becoming legend around the Cheyenne Mountain base, though his eyes were cast to the floor like his mind was occupied with other more important things. And maybe it was. But Carrie's mind had moved out of the realm of the violent into one of relief as she thought back on that moment when Colonel Lorne had knelt beside her chair to diffuse the bomb she'd been strapped to.

She'd managed to cut through her bonds with the pocket knife John had passed her, but Sean Fitzpatrick had kept her trapped in that chair even after the ropes had fallen away. She hadn't been able to go to John like she wanted to, even though everything in her wanted to rise up off the pressure switches she had been sitting on to attack the man that had pointed that gun at the direct center of John's chest.

The memory of watching that bullet release would be with her forever.

Growing up an army brat, Carrie Sinclair had developed a thick skin pretty early on. It wasn't often that she was unable to defend herself, but there had been no defense against the madness boiling just beneath the surface of Sean Fitzpatrick. It had burned inside of him as brightly as the fire that had singed the back of her shirt black and blistered the skin there just slightly. The wounds weren't bad enough to warrant any treatment beyond some burn cream from the infirmary, but the fire sat there still, a burning reminder of what had been done; of the lives lost that day.

She shivered again in spite of the heat, imagining her father standing beside her in the Puddle Jumper, arms folded across his chest in disappointment at her failure - at her weakness. A camouflaged specter of childhood memories.

Carrie shifted the arm that was starting to fall asleep where she had it propped between the horizontal rungs of John's bedside rail and wiggled her fingers to try and restore some blood flow there. She half wished that John would squeeze back and give her some kind of sign that he was still in there somewhere, but the hand in hers remained unmoving. It was as dry and as brittle as an ancient sand dollar pulled from the ocean long ago; delicate, and liable to break apart in her hand if she squeezed too tightly at any one time. Her entire world was like that anymore and she wondered what would happen if she let it all shatter around her. If the men she was trapped in the back of the spaceship with would care enough to try and help her pick up the pieces again.

"Carrie, TJ, would you two come up here please?" General Landry requested from the forward compartment a moment later and Carrie reluctantly let go of John's hand. She placed it delicately back where she had found it and against the industrial white of the sheets the grayness of John's skin stood out plainly. She reached out one final time to feel the warmth of his skin. It was too warm really but wasn't that why they were on this foolhardy quest to begin with? To try and help him fight this thing in any way they could?

In a fit of carelessness, Carrie leaned over the railing on the side of the gurney and pressed a kiss into the overheated flesh of John's temple. She didn't care that they all saw and she ignored the Marines who shifted uncomfortably as they watched her, following TJ into the main cockpit area a moment later without looking back.

Carrie could feel that strange and permeating energy even more up in the forward compartment. It called out to her and she sat down in the chair General Landry had waived her into with tingling fingertips and the slightest twinge of vertigo. She'd never felt anything like it before and she looked around trying to find some explanation for the peculiar sensation. Something unseen was sensing her, assessing her, but she didn't understand it and even feared it a little. No one else in the cockpit seemed to be effected by it either, but maybe that was just because they were all so used to it by now. She was the newcomer here. Well, besides TJ, but even he didn't show any signs that the alien craft was effecting him so Carrie pushed the felling away and tried to focus back in on Landry. He was turned a little in his seat and talking to her over his shoulder.

"Most of us have already had the pleasure of seeing this, but I wanted you two to have a front row seat."

The Puddle Jumper was approaching the San Francisco Bay and Carrie sat forward in her seat to marvel at the iconic red bridge growing larger in the forward window in front of her. She'd never seen the Golden Gate Bridge before and the sun was sinking behind it in the west, setting a thin layer of clouds huddled in around it on fire with a riot of red and orange color. Fingers of golden light broke through the wispy cloud cover to stretch across the darkening lavender and navy sky and the mirror image of the whole thing sat reflected in the choppy water beneath the horizon. It was breathtaking really, yet her eyes continually searched the scene for any hint of distortion. There was a enormous alien city lying hidden and cloaked somewhere in the water before them only she couldn't find any sign of it. There was nothing and when the puddle jumper finally broke through the barrier separating city from sky, she couldn't help the small gasp that escaped from her. Carrie put a hand up to her face to try hide the fact that she'd been startled, but General Landry had seen and he chuckled at her from his copilot's chair and even TJ moved forward to drink in what they were seeing.

Atlantis was massive. Larger than she ever could have imagined possible and it sat shimmering pink in the slowly fading light of twilight. The image of it pulled her bodily up and out of her chair. Tiny pinpricks of light were popping up along spindly towers all over the city as it prepared for the coming night and it was like watching a million tiny stars ignite one by one. The city welcomed her with open arms and she was overwhelmed for a moment as the Puddle Jumper began a smooth decent towards a clustered mass of towers at the city's center. She gripped the back of the pilot's chair, but the kid sitting in it ignored her.

"Oh Johnny Boy," she muttered without meaning to, but no one really heard the words.

How had John kept this from her for so long? How had she not seen the evidence of this place hiding behind his eyes every time he talked to her about the past? My god, it must have destroyed him being torn away from this and for so many long years, and she'd had no idea. Atlantis rose up from out of the San Francisco Bay like an ancestral statue she could practically feel the power radiating from it. It reached out for her constantly and she prayed that it was enough to give them the miracle they were all hoping for in coming here.

For as long as Carrie could remember (ever since the Great Culling, really) the world had felt like such a desolate and lonely place. The Wraith had come to prove to them all that they were not alone in the universe, but that revelation hadn't brought the hope mankind had been looking for. Fear and uncertainty, that was what the Wraith had promised the people of earth, yet Atlantis was like the counterweight to all of that. It's gray skin reminded her of the bellies of the great wide ships her father used take her to see as a child. The ones they sent out into international waters with reinforced hulls to try and keep the peace.

Carrie glanced over to TJ who was also up and out of his seat, watching the ancient city approach and their wide eyes met for a fraction of a second in the shared space of the forward compartment. It was just long enough for the young man's eyebrows to shoot up after his hairline before they both went back to watching out the forward window again.

The pilot maneuvered the Jumper expertly down and through a door that opened up beneath them, revealing the bowels of some kind of dimly lit hanger bay below. There were other ships just like theirs tucked away in their own compartments along the far walls. Others sat out on the open floor in various stages of dismantlement and though there was evidence that people had only just recently been working on them, tools lay abandoned on the floor and there was no one around that Carrie could see.

She was nervous all of a sudden. It dawned on her then that she'd come to the end of everything they'd been trying to prepare her for and there was nothing left to do now but walk out the back of the Puddle Jumper and face whatever came next. She would do it, of course. She owed that much to John, but that didn't stop her palms from sweating or her heart from thumping against her chest wall in a staccato beat that tried to match her rapid breathing. All of this was a far cry from the withered winter cornfields of southern Wisconsin and she felt lost. Adrift in a sea of things she couldn't possibly hope to understand or comprehend. It was messing with her center of gravity again and TJ, as if sensing her rising anxiety, appeared at her elbow.

Carrie tore her eyes away from some spot she'd been staring at in the darkened bay beyond and looked over at him. He was holding an arm out, offering her its support, and she took it, thankful for the small gesture of mercy from a kid who was showing wisdom beyond his 19 years.

"You ready?" He asked quietly as the rear hatch began to descend behind them and she shook her head, giving an honest answer to his honest question. She wasn't really, but she forced her feet to move forward anyway as she let TJ lead her away.

The room they exited into was cavernous. It was dimly lit by random pools of white hot light, cast down onto the floor by overhead lamps hidden somewhere high above. Everything simmered in a military green haze that reminded her a little of the past, but those thoughts were quickly chased away by the scene laid out before her.

It was overpowering. Her steps faltered, and she held tighter to TJ as if the boy could keep her from collapsing in on herself somehow.

There were hundreds of them, stretching out in two long and winding lines from rear hatch all the way over to the large bay doors that lead out into the main part of the city. Shoulder to shoulder the men and women stood together in silence, solider and scientist alike. The path they created with their solemn figures was navy dotted in white and the reverent silence that descended around them spoke more eloquently than any soliloquy ever could.

Carrie's heart was in her throat. She knew that John had been important to a number of people, but nothing could have ever prepared her for this benevolent show of respect. There were so many people and each of them either saluted as John's gurney passed or inclined their heads to bring a fist up to heart in a quiet display of veneration. It was impossible to describe the feeling in that hanger bay at that moment and Carrie didn't even bother to try and hide the fact that she had begun to cry.

The whole of Atlantis had been emptied. Every face that they passed held evidence of a life touched by one single man, and it was devastating. She didn't know anyone in the crowd and yet still felt a kinship to each and every one of them. Their shared prayers for the man on the gurney being wheeled ahead by armed military guard made them family, and if there was one thing in all the world that Carrie Sinclair cherished, it was family.

She was quickly coming to the realization that John Sheppard's family was many. And as they finished their journey down the rows of men and women who had all come to pay their respects to a brave and fearless solider, Carrie tried to see it for the celebration that it was, and not the funeral march that it felt like.

..

\oO0Oo/

..

Atlantis was beautiful. There just wasn't any other word to for it. Where Cheyenne Mountain had been cut from living rock and lay underground, hidden away from the sky, Atlantis embraced it. She entombed it, mimicked it almost.

The city was constructed from airy corridors and rooms so massive Carrie had to squint up to see the ceilings of them at times. Everything was done so elegantly and on such an enormous scale that she'd often walk into a space and have to stop for just a moment to drink it all in. And she'd never seen so much light before. It saturated everything and although she'd only seen a fraction of the city so far, she already felt at home inside of it. She'd walk into a room and that strange energy would reach for her, welcoming her in, and it was like some missing piece slid into place each and every time it happened.

Carrie couldn't explain it. Maybe she didn't even really want an explanation, but it felt as though Atlantis was alive around her and while she found the sensation intriguing, she couldn't help but notice a shallow undercurrent of sadness that seemed to permeate every facet of the city since they'd arrived last night.

It was as if Atlantis knew.

Like she could sense what was happening with John somehow and was mourning for him as they all were. At times the sadness was so palpable that Carrie had half a mind to run her fingertips along a wall just try and sooth the hurt. She kept meaning to sit Rodney down and ask him about the strange things she'd been feeling, but the right time had yet to present itself.

Carrie spent most of her time in a chair beside John's bed and for the past several hours she'd been listening to his friends reminisce about those elusive times from before. The ones they no longer seemed to care if she heard about or not. She'd finally been absorbed into their bubble and she sat at the edge of it as unobtrusively as possible, trying not to give them any reason to force her out again. She liked these men and to help take her mind off things - if only for a moment - she'd invented a kind of game. She would study each of them in turn, thinking back on long forgotten nebulous conversations she'd had with John about the past and try to decide which of the friends he might have been talking about. His stories had always seemed to revolve around the idea of someone, never an actual person, but as she watched those four friends talk, she was starting to connect some of the dots.

Dr. Beckett was the fatherly figure spoken of often but with the slightest twinge of regret, like there was something more to his story than John was willing to let on. Rodney was the well-meaning know-it-all that had gotten John into more scrapes than he cared to admit but who had remained a steadfast friend in John's eyes, even after so many years apart. And finally Even Lorne, the unwavering second in command who's loyalty was second to none. The consummate solider would gladly lay down his life for a friend. These friendships ran like a vein through all the ill-defined pieces of the past John had chosen to share with her over the years and she felt like she genuinely knew these people.

Carrie was no fool. She knew that to them she was nothing more than a tolerated outsider at present, but she could tell she was slowly managing to worm her way into their hearts... at least a little. The chair she was sitting in now was evidence enough of that. It always seemed to remain open for her, even during those times when she had to step away to pull herself back together again every time the doctor came in to announce that John was still headed down a dangerous road.

He'd been back on Atlantis for half a day now and they were all waiting around anxiously for the miracle that had yet to show its face. There had been a measureable uptick in the number of bedside visits by John's doctors and Carrie knew Carson Beckett was taking John's lack of progress the hardest. Relegated to the role of patient rather than doctor, he'd been fighting the infirmary staff at every turn and his bed had been pushed up beside John's in an attempt to appease him a little.

Carrie could tell that today had been particularly hard on him because he was lying back against his pillows looking careworn and drawn. The nasal cannula that had been a regular visitor on his face had been replaced today by a clear mask covering nose and mouth. He pulled at it greedily at times, droplets of condensation gathering on the insides and fogging up the plastic.

Every so often he would reach up as if he were about to pull it away from his face, and every time he did, Rodney McKay would stop what he was doing to glare over at him. The nonverbal communication that sparked between them said everything.

"Don't do that," Rodney's eyes would plead. "I can't lose another friend today."

And so they sat crowded around the converged beds. A ragtag group of weary friends trying to fend off despair even as it sat circling above their heads like a kettle of vultures after carrion. They were 5 completely different people, not a shared drop of common blood among them, but bonded together in a way that was stronger than any familial tie could ever be. And John was the connective tissue. The permeating thread that wound around them all until she wasn't sure where she ended and they began in this whole mess. That bond would be important, especially if this didn't end they way they all were hoping it would.

Sometime later, after Dr. Beckett had been wheeled away for a scan and TJ and Rodney had decided to go in search of something nutritious to eat, Carrie found herself alone with John for the first time in a long time. Even Colonel Lorne had left her to go off in search of Landry and she looked around the now empty curtained off space and missed them all a little. She sighed and captured John's hand in her own once again, the muscles of her arm remembering the maneuver as if by rote.

John was pale. Carrie reached out her other hand and brushed her fingers through the salt and pepper hair at his brow. Smoothing it back a moment later with the palm she ran gently down the uninjured side of his face. She could touch him freely now and she mapped his features with fingertips, mindful of his injuries, as she memorized the topography of his face.

"Oh, Johnny Boy," she sighed, letting her hand fall away when she was finished. "What a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into this time."

John was still, and there was nothing but the gentle rise and fall of his chest to suggest that he was even alive at all.

"This place is amazing, John," she mused with a crooked half smile, absently wrapping a strand of his hair around her forefinger. "Did you know that I can bring up the lights in a room just by thinking about it? It's nuts and that's not even the half of it. It's like this place is alive. I keep meaning to ask Rodney about how it all works, but I don't even know if I really want to know anymore. I can see why you loved this place though, and why you decided to come back here, even after everything that happened to you." She traced the line of the tape securing the ventilator tubing in place and tried to ignore the moisture gathering at the corners of her eyes.

"Don't be mad at Landry or Rodney, okay?" She continued. "But they had to explain a few things to me. I know all about what happened with the Wraith now, love. About how Sean Fitzpatrick was involved, and I want you to know that I could never, ever blame you for what they made you do that day, John.

You know, I almost didn't believe General Landry at first when he told me. I mean, I always knew you were struggling with something heavy, but I never imagined it could be something as terrible as that... and I wish you would have shared it with me, John." Carrie paused as her throat constricted, clogging with the words she tried to push through the diminishing space. When she blinked next, tears released from her lashes, then rolled. The paths they left behind were cold.

"...I could have helped you somehow. Anything you needed, babe, and I would have done it for you in a heartbeat. I get now how hard it must have been for you to have to stay away from this place for so long... stay away from all of them. And I like them, John," she smiled through the tears. "They're the kind of friends you hold on to for dear life, aren't they? And I know for a fact that they feel the exact same way about you. So if you've got anything left in ya at all John, we need for you to keep fighting. Okay love?

Don't give up. And don't let Sean Fitzpatrick win, especially not after you fought so hard to get back here.

I watched you try and save that boy, John. You offered him a way out... a chance to make it right again, but he shot you in the chest anyway, didn't he? And I know how hard it must be for you right now. And I know how easy it would be just to let go, but you can't, alright?" She swiped at her cheeks, wiping away the rolling lines of tears that wouldn't stop now.

"They need you.

Atlantis needs you.

Can you feel it? She's so sad right now, John and I know she wants to help you, but I don't think she knows how to do it. So you just gotta hang on, okay? Hang on for just a little while longer and I promise this will get easier." She buried her face against his shoulder, searching out his familiar scent and breathing it in as deeply as she could when she finally found it.

"I love you, you hear me?" She whispered wetly against his neck. "So much... and you do not get to leave me here alone."

Carrie knew it wouldn't be allowed, that she would likely be kicked out of the infirmary because of it, but the pull to be near him was just too great and she eased herself down onto the bed beside John. Taking up the least amount of space she could, Carrie let everything out against a scratchy infirmary blanket and sobbed herself to sleep.


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