Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or its characters. If I did we WOULDN'T HAVE A SIX-MONTH HIATUS!

Note: This came to me in the middle of watching Return part 1, so SPOILERS for that episode.

Summary: Back on Earth, Elizabeth hides from the other Atlanteans. Her only contact is her answering machine. Weir/McKay.

She never answered the phone. Caller ID told her who was calling, and she always let the machine pick up. She deleted every single one. Almost. She would hear his voice, stuttering and uncalm, and she could not bring herself to get rid of it.

beep Hey Elizabeth! This is Rodney, er, obviously. Or maybe not, I was never good at recognizing people's voices on the phone. Anyway, I thought maybe we could get together sometime. Well, not you and me, er, yes you and me, but also the rest of the team from At…our last post. So call me, you have my num beep

When she first heard from him, it was a shock. She honestly believed he would bury himself in his work and she would never hear from him again. Surprisingly, that thought hurt, and she felt a bubble of happiness in her chest at his voice. But she did not call back.

beep Elizabeth, you never got back to me, so I thought I'd call again. I guess you're busy doing all that negotiator stuff. Me, I'm fine. Got a big office, bigger than my…other lab. And everyone listens to me. Worships the ground I walk on, if I may say so. Anyway, call if you have a free moment, I'm sure any of us would be glad to hear from you. How long do you get to talk on this beep

She had to sigh at that. No, no negotiator stuff. She just sat at home, sometimes watching old sci-fi shows, sometimes writing her memoirs (hah, memoirs. What kind of memoirs can a person have if half their life is classified?) Hearing Rodney talking about his new job with such enthusiasm ached a bit. He was getting on with his life, but she was in limbo.

beep Er, Elizabeth. Hi, it's me, Rodney. Again. Um, just wanted to check and see how you're doing. I've been in touch with John and Carson, and they haven't heard from you either. If you aren't too busy, maybe we all can have dinner sometime. Oh, gotta go. Those idiots they call scientists here are about to blow up half of Nevada. What the! beep

Worried, she almost called him. Then she paused and remembered that there was little in Area 51 that was life-threatening. There was no Ancient city that could possibly explode at the push of a button. Even so, she reconfigured her answering machine to record longer messages. Just in case next time he wanted to explain to her what happened.

beep Well, Elizabeth, I managed to survive yet another assassination-by-stupidity attempt on my life. In case, um, you were worried about my last message. Just wanted to tell you. After all, we have to stick together, even if we aren't…home anymore. Anyway, maybe this is a bad time to call, I'll try again some other time beep

It was not a bad time. She had been sitting by the phone for hours, hoping he would call back and tell her he was alright. Letting out the deep breath she had been holding, she got up and poured a cup of coffee. Doctor Who was on, and she smiled as she thought about how she knew a certain snarky scientist who would love to take the Tardis apart.

beep Hey Elizabeth (drop that! Drop that now or you'll blow us all up) Sorry, just the idiots I work with. Honestly you would think they're in high school or (No no no no no, this goes here, that goes there! What are you, a Gou'uld attempting to destroy Earth by your lack of knowledge in all things science!) Actually, this is a bad time, I'll call later. Or you could call me. You have my number right? Wait, did I give it to (oh for…stop blubbering, it's only a papercut!) I think I did. beep

At that she smiled. Still the same old Rodney. If she closed her eyes she could almost imagine that she was back in Atlantis, listening to Rodney rant about his colleagues. Only she was jarred by words like 'Earth' and 'Gou'uld'. They did not fit in her perfect world. The world with Atlantis, and Rodney, and the rest of their family.

beep 'Lizbeth. It's me again, Rodney. I don't know how to say this, you know I'm not good with words. Or people for that matter. But I guess I have to, after all, you're my friend and friends are important. I'm worried about you. John and Carson say you haven't spoken with them either, and they're in the same state. Please call us. Call me especially. I, well, jeez how do you say this over the phone. This is always easier in the movie. Well, I faced down Wr…bad people so I'll just say it. Elizabeth, I lo beep

When the machine cut off, she wanted to scream. In her heart she knew what he was going to say, and she wanted to hear it. Maybe say it also. As brave as she knew she was, though, she still could not pick up the phone and call him.

So when Beckett came to her apartment and basically kidnapped her for dinner, she did not protest as much as she would have before. After all, maybe if they had time, she could ask Rodney what he meant to say. Perhaps she would say it back to him, and perhaps it would help her restart her life on Earth.

And maybe next time, she would answer the phone.