Ii have gone back and edited this. It was originally for a friend's birthday, and with my procrastination skills, I'd managed to wait to write this until the last minute.

The song is 'Grown Up Christmas List' as sung by Kelly Clarkson.

I own nothing and not copyright infringement is intended


John ran his hands through his hair, making the normally unruly strands stand even more on end, as he thought of all the long nights recently spent finding things to do. When he was not off world, he would sometimes sit in his office, staring at the paperwork that had yet to be done, hoping to come up with a way to keep him from dwelling on the thoughts that had strangely taken up all of his free time.

He had spent hours at staves practice until he dropped into bed each night, but he still had to spend the time doing the tedious paperwork; it was one way of dealing with that irritating ache that would not go away. Ever since she had left, the doubt had not gone away. 'What if's' plagues his thoughts, and he had been less carefree as a result. He could not be as carefree, not since he had seen what could happen, what would happen if he was not more careful in the future. As a result, his whole team had commented on his silence. It was for them he now tried to be a better leader, a better friend.

He rubbed his temple, using his fingers to press ever changing circles, in an attempt to avert the threatening headache. His efforts partially succeeded, but he knew if that if he did not find some food soon, his headache would return tenfold. Glancing at the clock to find it was close to 2200, he started thinking about the food available at that time of night.

All that would be available would be the snacks for the insomniacs and involved scientists to go with the hot water and packets of tea and hot chocolate that were always available. He thought of all the food available during dinnertime and thought back to the reasons - reasons that had seemed excellent at the time - for skipping supper. He wished he had not been so hasty when his stomach started grumbling about two hours after he normally would have finished eating.

He pushed himself away from the desk with a sigh and lifted himself up by the chair arms, anxious to find something to eat. He walked down the corridor, into the cafeteria over to where the food was, and grabbed an orange, smiling when he thought of Rodney and his citrus phobia. He tossed it in the air and caught it with a panache that denied that repetitive voice in his head that irritated his few peaceful moments. He sauntered back out into the hallway, and passing an open doorway, heard the strains of a familiar Christmas song drifting out. He paused, remembering the song from his past, remembering the way it had made him think every time he heard it.

...So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

He stepped to the doorway and peered in, surprised to find no one listening to the music. He walked softly over to a nearby chair and sat down, placing his head in his hands, trying to drain off some of the tension that had been building all day. He felt some of it leave him as he slowly relaxed into the faux leather of the chair underneath him.

No more lives torn apart

He thought back to the times he had come to bring Elizabeth something to eat when she had been working too hard. He had always considered the extra hours she put into her paperwork a bit on the obsessive side, but he had learned in recent months that it was an excellent distraction. He knew Elizabeth had not meant to alienate him by working into the night. In fact, he knew, knew deep in his very being, that she had depended on him to be there with his support when she was having a rough time.

And wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts

He could not count the number of times he had sat on the corner of her desk and just talked to her, discussing topics that were not strictly related to the work she had been doing. He had been keeping her grounded in what ways he could, not realizing that she had done the same for him. Without her, he was just a lonely boat at sea, lost without its anchor. He had found himself wandering the corridors in the first few weeks after she had gone, just looking for something to do, someone to talk to. He had found comfort in talking to his friends, the members of his team. They had understood to an extent what he was going through; they had missed her too.

Everyone would have a friend

What no one realized was the extent to which he missed her. He would laugh at a joke and remind himself to tell it to her. He loved the way she would smile and laugh before teasing him about his poor taste in jokes. He knew she was grateful he had stopped by knowing he had done it just to make sure she was okay.

He would grab his lunch in the cafeteria and glance around the room just to make sure she was there and getting enough to eat. He would go past what he still thought of as her office and glance over to see if she was slaving away at her desk. Every time he would feel a renewed sense of loss, of what could have been, of what would never be.

And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

What reminded him of her the most, however, was watching a sunset on their balcony. He would close his eyes and listen to the wind blowing across his exposed face, hands, and that sliver of back that showed between his pants and coat. His relaxed posture leaning into the railing was usually the mirror of hers. They would unconsciously shift when other did.

Her favorite part had been the way the sunbeams had reflected across the water, showing the texture and revealing what had been hidden before. She said it reminded her of human nature, that even the calmest seeming of people were not perfect. They had turbulence in their lives, but some of the said disturbances were only visible for a split second under the correct conditions.

The ripples in the far out ocean would only show themselves at dawn and dusk. Even then, there were only a few of the currents showing compared to the whole, but even to see the confusion was a gift. That she had cared to share some of her innermost thoughts with him had always awed him, and he missed learning about her.

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree

His mind flashed back to a story she had told him during one of their late night discussions. It centered around one Christmas at her house. The tree had been decorated with the love only a six-year-old can give. There were lights and paper chains hung from every branch, glass balls swaying gently from the ends, and a myriad of homemade decorations filling any gaps left over. The most beautiful angel had adorned the top, seeming to gaze down on the tree with a fierce, protective look.

Of course, all of this had paled in comparison to the brightly wrapped presents that had been stacked beneath the tree. That particular Christmas, there had been one with dark red wrapping paper and a silver bow. She had been drawn instantly to it and been delighted to learn it was for her. When she opened it, she found a puppy whom she was to later name Sedgewick. She had loved the puppy with all of her being and was extraordinarily mindful of his care. The result had been a dog that was unfailingly loyal and true to his master.

The tricks and mischief he had gotten into had left John chuckling for days afterwords. To think that a dog Elizabeth cared for with such protectiveness had eaten a bar of soap, later becoming sick because of it, still brought a smile to his face. The thought that Sedgewick had actually liked the soap and would sneak into the bathroom to try to get another bar still made him chuckle when he thought of it.

Well heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

He wondered if he would ever heal from her loss. She had been one of those rare people he had met in life who he understood without speaking. He could not count the number of times they had shared a glance, debating and deciding as the others waited for them to come to a decision. He had come to take it for granted, and only now that she was gone did he realize how much she had meant to him.

No more lives torn apart

A vision of her, demanding he leave, clouded his vision for a moment. She had been facing away at first, and he was momentarily shocked at her words; how could she mean that? Was she serious? As she turned to check on them, the Asurans passed her, guns held aloft and firing. He made the decision to follow her orders, a decision that he was still not comfortable with, would probably never be comfortable with, but he knew he could not help the loyalty she had inspired in him, had inspired in everyone. He could still see the look on her face, hear the concentration and anguish in her voice as she ordered him out, ordered him to let her leave his life forever. He still dreamed about it.

And wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts

Time would heal all hearts; he so wished this to be true. Time was the one thing that could heal almost anything. He did not want the pain of missing her, but even less did he want to forget her. The pain was welcome as long as his memories of her stayed clear; all that was left of her were these memories, memories that would soon be forgotten if they were not careful. That could not happen.

Everyone would have a friend
And right would always win

Right would always win as long as there were people willing to fight for it. This is what she had believed, and what he still believed. Through all that had happened, he would not forget that they were fighting for life, for the right to survive, and for love, never ending love.

And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth

What was it that he had lost that seemed so important in hindsight? What was it about her that stayed with him even though he knew she was gone? Why was he missing her so much? Was it the fact that he had never lost someone this close to him, or was it something more?

No more lives torn apart
And wars would never start

He had prided himself on being a good team leader, his loyalty for his teammates always helping him in difficult decisions. He would not leave another team member in danger if he had any say in the matter, for their lives were more important to him than even his own life. It was this that had made the decision to leave her even more difficult. His loyalty to his team had warred with his loyalty to her and lost.

And time would heal all hearts

The strange thing was, he did not regret his loyalty to her, not in the least. His loyalty to her had been gained from many long nights and tough decisions in tight spots. He had come to not only give her his loyalty, but to also have a faith in her that was seemingly irrational. He trusted her judgment; he trusted her instincts; he trusted her abilities; he trusted her. He had trusted her to not get herself killed. He had trusted and believed she would get out, if only for his sake. She had not.

Everyone would have a friend

His thoughts flashed to the time she had been in a critical condition; she had been quarantined for her and everyone else on the base's safety, yet he had known not to let that happen. He had broken quarantine to be with her, to make sure she was not alone, to make sure no one was left behind. He still remembered how it felt to slide his hand into hers and squeeze; that was all, a gentle grasp, just enough to let her know he was there for her, would always be there for her.

And right would always win

He had thought at the time that he had faced the worst there was to face, fought the worst there were to fight. He was wrong.

And love would never end, oh

What he had failed to realize at the time was how much caring for someone could hurt. It was much worse than any pain he had suffered after being captured. At first he had not been able to eat, had not been able to sleep, had not been able to dream without replaying that scene over and over again in his mind. What had he done wrong? When had he taken a wrong turn? Why could he not stop her? His grief after her death had changed him, he knew that for certain as he leaned his head back to rest on the chair.

This is my grown up Christmas list

His biggest regret was not going after her; he knew not, and would probably never know, how much of the Elizabeth he knew had been in the 'consciousness' that later was given a body. All he knew was that it was not his Elizabeth, it was not the woman he had come to care for and respect. She was gone and would never return.

This is my grown up Christmas list

The song faded into silence, and John levered himself out of the chair to make his way back to the doorway, on his way to his room to try to get some sleep; maybe he would be able to tonight. Maybe tonight would be different, but he didn't think so.


Thanks for reading. Reviews are always welcome.

~Leucothea29