Chapter 1: Nightmares
He was running down a dark hallway, gun in hand, desperately searching. He reached the intersection of the corridors and saw her there, outstretched arm in Oberoth's grip. He slowed. "Elizabeth?"
"Get to the jumper."
"You're coming with us."
"I can't keep them frozen much longer!"
"We're not leaving you behind!"
"If you don't get out of here right now, then none of us will, so go! That's an order!"
Arms began pulling at him, dragging him away. No, he wouldn't leave her! "Elizabeth!"
She spun around as the now unfrozen Replicators swarmed around her. "Go!" she shouted. He locked eyes with her and saw goodbye in them. The arms were pulling at him again, stronger this time, he couldn't resist. 'No!'' The arms finally succeeded in forcing him away and he lost sight of her. He tried to get away, to go back, but he couldn't, no matter how hard he fought. There was a bright light, and the last thing he heard was his own voice screaming, "No! Elizabeth...!"
John Sheppard woke with a start, breathing heavily and with sweat pouring off him. He pushed himself up in bed and put his head in his hands, trying to calm himself. The nightmare again. It didn't come to him that often, but when it did... it left him completely shaken for days afterwards.
His breathing finally slowing, he propped up several pillows and laid back against them. He knew he wouldn't sleep any more that night. He closed his eyes and tried to empty his head, but one image just wouldn't go away. Her face... that look of immeasurable sadness and the goodbye that had filled her green eyes. Elizabeth... Her voice filled his mind, replaying her last words to him over and over like a broken record. 'Go!'- the one order he should have never obeyed. The guilt that always accompanied the nightmare came in a rush. He shouldn't have left her... should have gone back for her... why didn't he go back for her? Of course, somewhere in the rational part of his mind he knew the answer. Because Atlantis needed him. They had had to have that ZPM in order to save the city. John's brain knew the answer, but in his heart it didn't make him hate himself any less.
He sat in the darkness of his quarters and did paperwork until an hour before hs alarm clock was set to go off. He got out of bed, bed, showered, dressed, and headed to the mess hall. The place was nearly empty at this early hour, so John got his breakfast with ease and sat down by himself at a table. Ten minutes later, someone placed a tray at the chair across from him. He looked up in surprise; he had been so lost in thought he hadn't noticed anyone else come in. Teyla, who he now remembered usually got up before him, sat down.
"I am surprised to see you up so early, John," she said. He looked at her for a minute. Only three months pregnant she hadn't begun to show yet, but she already had that glow typical of expectant mothers.
"Yeah," said John, looking back at his food, "woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep."
A hesitant pause. "Was it the nightmare again?"
He glanced up at her; she looked concerned now. John picked up his spoon and concentrated on stirring his cereal, not answering.
"Yeah. Yeah it was." There was quiet a few moments, and when Teyla spoke again her voice was layered with concern.
"Perhaps... perhaps you might benefit from speaking to someone about this. I know my mind is often put at ease when I share my dreams with another person."
"You mean a shrink?" She opened her mouth to speak but he cut her off. "Look, I don't need to see a doctor about a dream that only happens every couple of weeks. Besides, I know exactly what they're going to say. Something about how it's only natural to have nightmares, considering what we've all been through. I've heard it before, and I'm not going to waste my time just to hear someone else tell me what I already know."
Teyla sighed. "John," she began.
"Nope, end of discussion." He stood up from the table and picked up his tray. "See you later." Teyla watched him as he disposed of the tray and its contents and left the room. She sighed again, and began to eat her meal in solitude until she was joined by Ronon a short time later.
"Morning," he said as he sat down with a heaping plate of food. Teyla returned the greeting. "I just passed Sheppard in the hallway," Ronon rumbled. "He looked pretty bad."
She nodded. "I am beginning to feel worried for him. It has been almost seven months now and he is still being plagued by the same nightmare."
"I wouldn't worry about it too much."
She gave Ronon an inquiring look. "Why do you say that? I realize they were very close, but..."
"But it's been this long..."
He set down his fork. "Have you gotten over what happened?"
She shook her head. "No, not completely. I doubt I ever will."
"Well Sheppard was closer to Weir than anyone else, so leave him alone."
Teyla let out a puff of air. "Very well." Deciding to change the subject, she asked, "What is the next planet the team will be going to?"
"Velidas. Otherwise known as M..."
"MGX-9811," heard John as he stepped away from the now inactive stargate. "Virtually uninhabited- only the occasional settlement here and here. Fairly normal plant life, rather unspectacular animal population..."
"McKay, cool it," interrupted John, "we were at the briefing too you know."
"Okay, fine," sniffed the scientist. "Ignore useful information..."
"Just scan for anything unusual will you?" John turned away, leaving Rodney mistrustfully eyeing the yellow plant that grew all over the field they were in. He heard him mumbling unhappily about allergies, causing John to shake his head in exasperation before giving the command to move out.
There were no signs of habitation immediately around the stargate, only rocks and scrub brush. Twenty yards from the gate a dense forest began. They had been walking through the trees for ten minutes when Ronon noticed something
"Sheppard," he called. "Come look at this." He gestured to the ground at his feet. John walked over to him and looked down. There was a thin strip of bare earth running through the undergrowth that looked like it had been worn down over time. A trail.
"McKay, how close is the nearest settlement?" questioned John.
"About a mile in that direction." he pointed off to the right somewhere. "They're relatively primitive though. There's no technology showing up on my scans."
John looked at Ronon and nodded. "Worth a look anyway." He shifted his P-90 to a more comfortable position on his arm. "Alright, lets go check it out."