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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 26 - Epilogue

(Or as I like to call it)

The Post Credits Scene

John Sheppard stood on the platform above the Stargate and watched as the members of his expedition prepared the space for departure. The Gateroom floor was littered with boxes and the normal detritus of an impending mission. In just two days time they would embark for the Pegasus galaxy and John thought back on everything it had taken for them just to get to this moment: sabotage, men with guns, murder, conspiracy... all of it meant to malign what they were hoping to accomplish here, but only managing to make their victory over all that adversity more sweet.

John let his eyes linger over the Stargate and the pull of old memories made his chest ache for a moment. Some of what had happened to him after he'd been shot had come back. Most of it had remained a jumbled mess inside his mind, but looking at the Stargate always managed to bring what little he could remember back up to the surface.

He missed Carrie then. Her presence in Atlantis had been both a comfort and a hidden source of strength and their parting had been a hard one.

It had happened about a month ago, when the call back to Blue River had grown too strong for her to ignore any longer. She'd been different in those short days prior to saying goodbye, and John couldn't help but wonder if he perhaps wasn't the only one it hurt her to leave behind. She'd certainly made friends in the city. It wasn't a small crowd that had gathered to see her off and make her promise to come back soon.

John kept having to tell himself that it wasn't forever; that someday soon she would find her way back to this place and to him. He was always going to ache for her, but he couldn't make her stay. Carrie had been right, Eileen needed her, and he would respect the decisions she'd made.

Pulling himself away from the memories of their last moments together and, finally satisfied that everything was going smoothly on the floor below, John made his way back to his office on a sigh. There were plenty of memories waiting for him there in that room, plenty of distractions to keep him from thinking of Carrie anymore and he let his mind play through them all as he paused in the doorway: Elizabeth, Woolsey, that time he'd put his fist through the very door he now stood in. It was the good mixed with the bad. The memories that hurt, mingling in with the ones that made him smile. He stood in the doorway for a while, taking them in one by one, unable to step through until he catalogued them all and put them in their rightful places.

"General Sheppard?" A tentative voice called from behind him, immeasurable moments later and John turned and found a young corporal at his heel.

"Yes?"

"There's call for you, sir," the young woman smiled a little awkwardly. "I believe it's Colonel Asbury on the Daedalus."

"Okay, thanks," John smiled back. Some of the younger enlisted still seemed afraid of him, and it amused him for some reason. "Will you put him through to my office?"

The Corporal nodded and scurried off and John finally made his way into the room. Three months ago the SGC had sent Asbury on ahead of the expedition to check on the conditions of the Pegasus galaxy, and John had been eagerly awaiting this call. It was the one that could make or break the expedition and he settled in behind his desk with trepidation.

"Brigadier General Sheppard," the Colonel Asbury intoned with a courteous nod as his face materialized on screen.

"Andy, it's good to hear from you."

"You too, sir. How are things back home?"

"Oh you know, same old, some old."

"Dr. McKay still giving you grief?"

"When isn't he?" John replied and both men laughed. "I assume you have some news for me?" The small talk was nice and all, but John wasn't in the mood.

"Well actually, Sir," Asbury started, running a hand across his chin, "we ran into something out here I thought you'd want to hear about immediately."

John's stomach did a summersault in his gut. He'd always known there was a chance the reconnaissance mission would find something bad, he just hadn't allowed himself to think it would actually happen.

Asbury turned his head and addressed someone off screen. "Pull it up."

The screen before John flickered and in an instant he was staring at a face he'd never expected to see again. Anger boiled instantly in his already agitated stomach, pushing acid up into the back of his throat. His hands balled into fists and he had to resist the urge to put one of those fists through the wall behind him.

"Todd."

He said the Wraith's name through teeth clenched so hard together, they hurt. The Wraith looked exactly as John remembered him, and the bastard still managed to elicit the same rage and need for revenge in John that he had 20 years ago.

"He contacted us as soon as we came out of hyperspace around the planet, Sir," Asbury went on, reappearing on screen. "He claims his is the only Hive left, but we have no way of confirming that. Our scout ships didn't find anything, so there's a chance he's telling the truth."

"Don't you believe a single word that son of a bitch tells you, Colonel Asbury, and that's an order."

"Duly noted Sir, but that's not all."

John should have figured. He pinched the bridge of his nose and indicated for Asbury to continue.

"He wasn't alone when he contacted us, Sir. There was someone with him, a girl he claims came from Earth."

"Earth?" John repeated incredulously. "How is that possible?"

"Well, he claims one Hive got away, but that it crash landed on one of the planets on outskirts of the galaxy. He says some of our people survived and that he saved them."

"For dinner, you mean," John snorted mirthlessly.

"He claims he doesn't do that anymore, sir."

"Yeah, I'm sure he does," John replied with a roll of the eyes. "Listen, do we have any idea who this girl with him might be?"

"Well, actually Sir, yes, we do." Asbury said, a little hesitantly.

"Well?"

Asbury looked uncomfortable. "She says her name is Madison Miller, Sir."

Madison Miller, why did that name sound so familiar... then it hit him.

"Now just wait one damn minute here, son!" John cried, flabbergasted by what he was hearing and hardly able to believe it. "Are you seriously saying what I think it is you're saying?"

"Affirmative, Sir," the Colonel nodded solemnly. "The girl claims to be Dr. McKay's niece...

and she says she's not alone."

...this story will continue on in "The Secret Language of Grief, Book Two"

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Author's Final Notes:

A big, huge thank you to everyone who reviewed, favorited, alerted and supported this little story. I literally could never have done it if not for your unwavering loyalty and support. In the beginning, this was meant to be nothing more than a quick one-shot, a fleeting look into an Alternate universe where our Hero's didn't get the happy ending they deserved. It turned into so much more and I'm glad you chose to share the journey with me. I'm planning a sequel to this and hope to start publishing it sometime later this year. You all have been a beautiful audience and thanks again for the support.

Please don't forget to leave me your final thoughts in a review. They are seriously food for my soul and only make me want to write more :)

As always, keep writing and never stop dreaming!

-water4willows

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