Title: "Solace"

Author: Little Red

Rating: PG

Category: Sheppard/Weir, hurt/comfort-y angst

Summary: Not all missions end well.

****

Her bed is warmer than his.

John needs that, after a mission. Needs it in a way he's not comfortable with, in fact, but he knows that once he's there, once he's got her hair against his cheek and the smell of her in the bedding keeping him warm, he will feel more than comfortable. He'll feel okay. He needs that.

Usually he waits for an invitation, but not tonight. He still hasn't figured out what, exactly, went wrong in this mission, but he can't think about it anymore. He needs sleep. He needs to get away, for a few hours, from the screams of an alien village torn completely apart by Wraith darts and the sick knowledge that he led them there, somehow.

Two of his men are still in critical condition in the medical bay, and he stood vigil as long as he could stand it. He just wants Elizabeth's arms around his body and her hands on his head, a silent absolution, comforting him his weakness and his mistakes.

Instead, she speaks. "You did the best you could."

He shakes his head into her shoulder, her nightgown. He doesn't want the pep talk, can't stomach hearing trite words over something so unforgivable. There were children lost. Babes practically in arms.

The Wraith came because of him, because he looked like an Ancient to scanners left behind.

McKay knew it could happen. Scanned the relics. Made his recommendation.

And he, John Sheppard, had deemed the risk acceptable.

McKay got by with a broken ankle only. Pierce didn't even make it back to the 'gate. Beckett thinks Markham and Healey will both pull through, but Healey may end up mostly blind from repeated Wraith stun blasts to the face and it will be a miracle if Markham regains full mobility in his hands.

Teyla is back home with her people already, sick with the memories of their old homeworld brought back by seeing this strange land torched. Ford is okay, keeping watch in the medical bay like a good soldier, not thinking about the death toll in the hundreds or, if he is, comforting himself with the refrain that he was following orders.

"No," Elizabeth says. "Look at me."

The wraith were after him, wanted him, and he walked away without a scratch.

He looks up at her.

"You did the best you could," she says again, with conviction.

He has the evil thought that this is because they are sleeping together, that she's dismissing his obvious faults so easily because of blind favoritism or because she can't bear the thought that she has touched him so intimately if he is really that bad. He wants to blame her because he can't stand the determined compassion in her eyes.

She didn't see what happened. She only sees him.

"You did the best you could," she repeats. Her voice breaks a little.

He feels like he's crumpling, like paper, as he folds into her.

She holds him when he starts to shake.

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