Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Warnings: Major Character Death
Characters: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
The ropes of the travois were pulling hard against his shoulders and had been for the last several hours. He felt like he was being rubbed raw under his jacket. He took a deep breath and tried to adjust the pressure points while calculating that it was still a full day’s trek down this path to the gate. Well, he was certain this was the path. It had to be the path. Damn, why did he have to cannibalize the LSD, it would have really helped about now.
“It’s time to let go now, Rodney. You saved everyone you could.” The voice from the travois behind him was weak and tired. And, frankly making him a little angry.
“John, no. It’s not enough time. We finally got this, this…us, all figured out and now it’s just over? I don’t accept that. There has to be a way.” He suddenly straightened up and snapped his fingers three times in a row before trying to turn around and felt a sharp jerk on his shoulder from the rope. “Oh, I’ve got it. You ascend and then immediately get your glow butt back down here. Problem solved. OK, get on with it.”
Rodney carefully shrugged off the ropes and looked at John, concerned, “Wait, you do know how to do that, right? I mean there was that time you were trapped with the lunatics that wanted to do it and that time you tried to help me. So, you know how…right?”
John just smiled and shook his head. “I’m not going to ascend Rodney. It’s just not my thing.”
“Well, I refuse to let you give up.”
John sighed deeply, “It’s ok to just let go Rodney.”
“No, absolutely not!” Rodney paced back and forth briskly beside the travois, “It is not ok. You promised me. You made me promise to never throw out your Johnny Cash and I made you promise to never throw me away. We made a deal. You can’t go back on it now.”
“I’m not going back on it. I promised I would never walk away from you and I’m not.” John said softly, barely audible.
“But, it’s not fair. Your stupid country finally got a clue and legalized marriage. You made me stand up in front of everyone and say those stupid vows.”
“Rod-ney, I didn’t write the vows. Teyla and Jeannie did that.” John whispered with a small wistful smile.
Rodney noticed he was looking tired. “There isn’t time to get you to the gate.” John closed his eyes briefly and Rodney knelt down so he could take John’s hand.
“We did good, didn’t we?”
“We had a great ride.”
Rodney started lightly drawing math equations on the back of John’s hand. “Are you sure they were able to get all the children to the Gate? I used everything we could scavenge to hold back the overload.”
“You did great, buddy. When we took off in the jumper they reported they made it through.” John closed his eyes.
Rodney’s heart rate rocketed and he pulled his hand while tapping John on the face. “No, not yet. Stay with me.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Rodney. I’m here with you.”
“But you won’t try to ascend for me?”
Rodney ran a hand through John’s hair as his voice took on a slight whine, “Why? Why won’t you try?”
“Because I promised not to leave you,” John whispered.
“That makes no logical sense.”
“Rodney, look at the path behind us.”
Rodney turned and looked back over the leaf-strewn path into the setting sun. “What about it?”
“No, look at the path.” John’s voice was getting stronger.
Rodney stopped to look. The trees reached high overhead with leaves changing to Fall colors. The sun was low, shining through the path behind them. The path was full of leaves, most turning brown and untouched.
John’s voice, stronger still, “You need to see the path, Rodney. Open your eyes and look at it.”
Rodney shook his head, confused, “I don’t understand. I was dragging you.”
John reached down and pulled Rodney back to his feet, facing the path. “You saved everyone, Rodney. Can you remember?”
“I waited until the last moment before I let go of the switch. I wanted you to leave. You could have gotten away in time. Why didn’t you just leave?”
“Together in this life and the next. That was the vow we made.” John smiled at him with that quirky grin and mischief in his eyes, “I promised.”
“We made it to the puddle jumper.”
“And we took off. But the ZPM blew before we had a chance.” John told him.
“And we didn’t ascend.”
“I promised. And you told them to stuff it, you would take your chances with door number two.” John grinned broadly.
“Huh, so what is this place?”
“Whatever comes next.” John pointed toward the sun. “Want to find out?”
“So here we go into the sunset?” Rodney asked amused.
“No, that is our first sunrise,” John replied as he offered Rodney his hand again and they started to walk down the path.
“Well thank goodness for that. Do you know how immensely idiotic it is to show the hero riding off into the sunset? I mean seriously, if the sun is setting you wouldn’t be riding a horse around in the dark. Historically man has tried to find ways to light up the dark, not ride around in it on an animal that is not even nocturnal.”