Title: The Test
Rating: PG13 (for some violence)
Note: This is dedicated to my friend, autumnwhispers, who agrees with me that there should be more "girly angst" on Atlantis.
Disclaimers: Atlantis and all related characters are property of people who aren't me. There's a surprise character from The X-Files hidden within this fic. I don't own him either...
I followed John and Radek through the corridors. We were exploring the section of Atlantis near the room Rodney found that Ascension device. I shuddered, remembering how we almost lost him. I can still see how pale and exhausted he became.
It reminded me of my Dad. We lost him to cancer when I was ten. It was hard being his only daughter. My older brothers didn't understand the connection had shared with him. I don't even think my Mom did.
"This is a little creepy!" John exclaimed, pulling me from my thoughts. I was grateful because I did not want to go through those emotions again! At least not in front of John and Radek.
"What is it?" I asked.
Peering into the room, I notice a large console in the middle. To the right and embedded into the wall was some sort of chamber complete with syringes attached to it. No wonder John said it was a little creepy.
I moved over and joined Radek at the console as he attached the laptop to it. Immediately it sprang to life as the Ancient text filled the screen. "Amazing."
"What?" John wanted to know. "What's so amazing about this creepy medical lab or whatever it is?" As he spoke he was eyeing the chamber curiously.
"According to the notes here, this was a test to prove one's worth as a friend. It's also a test of courage to strengthen oneself for Ascension."
"Probably why it's on the same level as Rodney's device," Radek replied. "He just might be jealous we found this when he gets back."
Rodney had gone off world to help Major Lorne's team with the inhabitants of MX3224. Their power plant was nearly destroyed by a fierce storm and Rodney opened his mouth with ideas on how to fix it. Some of the people were looting and carrying on so Ronon went along with them.
"So how does it prove someone's worth as friend?"
Suddenly the chamber lit up like a Christmas tree and John was crying out. I rushed over to him as Radek attempted to find the off switch. "John!" I exclaimed.
The chamber had closed around his arm. That's what the hole in the door was for. "Something is being injected into my arm," John said, eyes full of fear.
"I-I do not know. It is not responding to any of my commands."
I watch as more text flowed on the screen. Apparently John's been injected with some sort of drug. "Oh my God!"
"What?" Radek and John ask at the same time.
"If no one goes through the trials, whatever is being injected into you will kill you!"
Radek was about to sit in the chair, but I wasn't going to let him do this. I probably triggered the mechanism that had John attached to the wall so I was going to help him. "I've got it!" I told him, sitting down.
Again John and Radek yelled at the same time. "Quiet, both of you! Radek, see if you can find a way to turn this off without it killing John. It seems as though I'm going on a trip through memory lane."
A hologram appeared before me. "Welcome to your journey. To save your friend, you will go through a series of trials. This is to demonstrate courage as well as gain a clearer mind so that you may ascend. You have approximately five hours to complete the trials. All of your memories will be transmitted through the view screen. I wish you well on your journey."
"Lovely," John muttered as she disappeared.
He seemed a little pale to me. In fact, he looked like he was having trouble breathing. "John, are you all right?"
"Don't worry about me right now. Just do what you have to do."
I nodded. "Fine, but I'm sending for Carson. At least he can keep an eye on you."
Before John could reply, my first memory flashed on the screen. My eyes watered as I saw my Dad, looking healthy as ever. It was a few days before my birthday. They had to tell me about the cancer. They didn't want tell me before my birthday, but he only had days because they didn't find it in time.
"Mommy and I have something to tell you, Angel," Dad said.
My almost ten year old self nodded, but she was grinning. I know why. She thought she was going to be a big sister. She thought, no I thought my Mom was having a baby. God, how I wished that were true!
"Angel," Mom said, "Daddy is really sick."
"Then we should take him to the doctor, right, Mommy? That's where you take me when I get sick."
Tears fell from my eyes as I watched the scene before me, but I had to be strong. I truly believe that my Dad's death made me stronger. I wanted to go out in the world and make him proud. I only hope I have…
"Bloody hell, Colonel!" I heard Carson exclaim.
I was able to turn to see what was going on because apparently it gives you a few moments to compose yourself. John was trying his hardest to stand, but he looked absolutely exhausted. Carson asked Radek to get a chair.
"How is he, Carson?"
"I don't know yet, Elizabeth. Whatever you need to do, though, do it quickly!"
I needed no further urging and soon the screen lit up again. This time it was time to leave for college. Mom was hugging me tightly. "You are my Angel, remember that Elizabeth. And remember that Daddy is always watching over you."
I smiled at her, tears in my eyes. "I know, Mom. I love you."
Instead of pausing like before, it continued on. I let out a gasp when I realized what memories were going to be shown now. I close my eyes tightly because I don't want to live through again.
"If you want your friend to live," the hologram said, "you must allow these memories to resurface."
Carson looked over at me. He shook his head and I nearly wanted to cry when I looked at John. He looked so fragile. His face was pale and I could tell he was having trouble breathing. I can't stand to see him so sick.
I took a deep breath and looked at the hologram. "I'm ready."
I had many friends throughout college. My roommate, Julie, was the sweetest person I ever met and when she decided that I should meet her brother because we'd be perfect together, I couldn't say no. After all, I had seen pictures of him and he was gorgeous!
Of course sometimes things are too good to be true. After a few dates Mark started showing up wherever I was. He was always trying to 'visit his sister' even on the days he knew she wouldn't be around.
I got scared. He left me love letters and left hundreds of messages on our answering machine. Julie just kept saying how cute it was and that I shouldn't worry about her brother, but I was feeling trapped.
It got to the point where I was afraid to go anywhere because he had begun snapping pictures of me and sliding them under our door. On the back of the pictures, he'd write things like 'Thinking of you' and 'We'll be together soon, I love you so much'.
Finally I called the campus police and Julie suddenly wanted a new roommate. She was so angry because I wasn't returning her brother's affections. I barely knew the guy, how could I?
Mark was helping her move out one Saturday afternoon and I happened to be there because I was studying for a political science exam. I became increasingly aware of the fact that someone was standing directly behind me.
"Mark!" I said, my hearting beating wildly in my chest. I took a deep breath. "Did you get everything?"
He just grinned at me and I knew he was going to try something. Mark grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him. "Why don't you just admit you love me, Elizabeth?" he asked.
I wanted to cry out, but it was as if my voice box was frozen. All I was aware of was his heavy breath and the fact that he must have had a gallon of alcohol before he came over. I looked wildly around for somewhere to go.
Mark just laughed at me. "Don't worry," he whispered in my ear. "I'll keep you safe."
As he was saying this, I felt his hand move up my shirt and grasp my breast. I tried to move away, but he just held on tighter and suddenly his lips were on mine and I couldn't stop him. I tried! I really tried, but he was too strong for me!
He shoved me away with such force that I slammed my back against the desk. Julie had arrived and she was staring at her brother in complete shock. Mark just smiled wickedly at her and ran out the door.
"Elizabeth!" she called rushing to my side. "God, Elizabeth I'm so sorry! I should have listened to you, but I didn't want to believe it."
I shook my head, tears falling. "No, I understand why you didn't want to."
The memory faded and I slumped back into my chair. I jumped at the hand on my shoulder and immediately knew it was Teyla. I glanced back over at Carson. He was busy with John so I don't know if paid any attention to my last memory.
"How's he doing, Carson?" I asked, finally finding my voice.
He looked up at me and I could tell he was feeling helpless. "Whatever this pathogen is, it's working fairly quick. I can't seem to control it. His temperature is holding, but at 103 degrees, he's completely dehydrated and I can't seem to make up for it."
"We need to hurry then!" I told him. He merely nodded, sympathy evident in his eyes. "I'm ready."
I swallowed around the lump in my throat. I was asked to sit on an FBI hostage situation.
It was part of my co-op, to see the different forms of negotiating. A man was holding his wife and son hostage because they were leaving him.
Robert Matthews was his name. He was so angry. So angry with his wife. He just wanted to get back at her for trying to take his son away, for leaving him to be with another man.
The FBI agent in charge, Walter Skinner, came up to me. "Ms. Weir."
I looked up at him, uncertain as to what he could possible want with me. I mean I was just there to observe, I wasn't qualified to do anything. "Yes, Sir?" I asked hesitantly.
He seemed just as hesitant to say whatever he wanted. Finally, he took a deep breath. "Matthews is asking for you."
"Me?" I was shocked to say the least. How the hell did he know about me? How the hell did he know I was even there?
"It seems he's been watching the news. He saw you sitting with us and he asked about you. I just told him you were working with us and he immediately said he wanted to see you. I've heard a lot about you. About your skills in negotiating."
"But, Sir," I said, "Those were classroom exercises. I don't know if I'm ready for the real thing."
"Your professors believe you are, Ms. Weir. And after looking over some of your work, I agree with them. Time is of the essence, though."
I nodded slowly, praying to my Dad to give me strength. If the FBI couldn't talk this guy down, I didn't know how I was going to!
I was given a bulletproof vest and then told to head towards the house. Matthews had his son open the door for me. I smiled as bravely as I could for the little boy, but he looked frightened beyond belief.
Matthews grinned as I walked through the door. I knew that grin. It was the same one Mark gave me before… What the hell did Matthews really want me in here for? I really didn't want to know the answer to that.
However, before I knew it, I began to speak. "Mr. Matthews, there's no need to do this. I'm certain we can work something out. If there's any reason to stop this, it's your son. Do you realize what you're putting him through? How is he ever going to respect his Father for who he is if he has to witness something like this?"
"How long have you worked for the FBI?" he asked, curiously.
"Well…" Should I tell him the truth? Perhaps that would be best. I don't want him to think he can't trust me even though I know I can't trust him at the moment. "I don't work for the FBI."
"Who the hell do you work for then? DCPD?"
I shook my head. "No, I'm a student at Duke University."
Matthews grinned again and my stomach dropped. He grabbed his wife by the arm and yelled at his son to move towards the door. "Do what you want, Annie," he said, "I've got something better now."
Annie looked at me sympathetically before taking her son's hand and leaving the house. Now it was just Matthews and myself.
"What are you doing?" I asked him.
"Have a seat," he said. "We're going to see how good a negotiator you really are."
"You know they'll let you off easier if you just release me. You haven't hurt anyone yet."
Matthews laughed bitterly. "Right. Now, why don't you begin?"
"Release me and you won't be killed. And just maybe your son will still have some respect for you."
"You don't get it, do you? Annie cheated on me with my best friend five years ago and apparently they've been together since then. Scott isn't even my son!"
My eyes widened. I knew from the report I was given to read that Annie had cheated on her husband, but I didn't know how far back it went. I suddenly felt out of my league. How the hell was I supposed to negotiate with someone who didn't want to negotiate?
"I loved her, I still do. And I absolutely love Scott," he said softly, tears in his eyes.
"Then prove it," I told him. "Prove to Annie and Scott by walking out of here on your own. Don't let those people out there hurt you in front of them."
"It's too late!" Matthews exclaimed firing his weapon.
I cried out as the bullet slammed into my shoulder. I heard another shot go off and a few minutes later, Matthews was falling to the floor. I stared at him in shocked silence. His face was no longer there…
When the last of the memory faded, the chamber released John and the hologram appeared again. "Radek!" Carson exclaimed. I saw him rush over to help out the corner of my eye.
Teyla had suddenly appeared next to me again, her hand on my shoulder. I didn't want to move because I was afraid I was going to be sick. "You have done well. You are on your path to ascension. We are honored to have one such as you among us."
That's it? They were honored? I had to go through hell just for them to tell me that? No, I went through hell for John because I know he would do the same for me. He's a friend. My best friend, in fact, and I almost lost him.
I suddenly felt dizzy and my head was pounding. Maybe if I just close my eyes the room would stop spinning.
"Elizabeth!" I heard Teyla cry out before I slipped into the darkness.
I woke up a little disoriented and noticed that I was in the infirmary. To my right, I could see Carson talking to another patient, most likely John. At least, I hope it was John. I was about to call out to them when John noticed me.
"Hey!" he said with a smile.
"Hey. How are you feeling?"
"Much better now that the drug I was injected with is out of my system."
Carson walked over to me. "It was quite a nasty drug. Caused all sorts of complicated medical problems that I almost couldn't deal with down there. I really needed him in the infirmary, but that little chamber would have none of it. I don't know how much you remember, but Radek tried everything he could think of to get that… 'test' to end."
I shuddered. I hated that machine. The Ancients were great in many ways, but they were also a very flawed race. I don't know how they survived as long as they did with the experiments than ran. I looked up at Carson to see a worried expression on his face.
"I'm fine, really," I told him. "Just a little tired."
"Very well. I'll leave both of you to rest." Carson turned to give John a look.
"Colonel, I mean it."
John batted his eyes. "Do I seem like a person who would disobey you?"
"Yes!" Carson and I replied.
I grinned at Carson, who shook his head and left us alone. "Are you really all right?" he asked me.
"I think so. I hadn't thought much about the bad things that happened to me. They just seem so trivial in comparison to what we've faced here."
"I disagree," John said. "A lot of what happened to me in the past, what I've done resulted in me coming to the Pegasus Galaxy. It also helped me learn a lot about myself."
"You may be right, John. I think that I've become stronger in dealing with the bad things that happened to me. I became stronger because of my parents and what they instilled in me."
John moved around on his bed until he was facing me. "Tell me about your Dad."
"My Dad was amazing, John…"
I knocked on the door. I hadn't been home in since the Ancients had returned to Atlantis and I haven't seen my Mom since then either. I know that with a working ZPM I can get home more often, but I was always afraid something would happen while I was gone and there would be nothing I could do to help my friends.
I know it's a feeble excuse because my Mom deserves so much better than that. Which is why I had asked to allow her security clearance. Not for everything, but just to let her know where I was and why I couldn't visit her as often as my brothers did.
"Elizabeth!" she exclaimed, opening the door. She quickly gathered me into her arms and it was that moment that I began to cry. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
I let her lead me to the couch and sat down. "I've just been thinking a lot about things that have happened and Dad and just everything."
"I take it what you've been thinking about has nothing to do with good memories. Something had to trigger it. Do you know what?" Mom asked
"Well…" I didn't know how to tell her about the Ancient device that takes your worst memories and plays it like a bad movie. Oh, and that you have to endure it all if you want to save the life of your friend who's being injected with drugs.
Mom sensed I was hesitant to talk about it. "Elizabeth, if you can't talk to me about it because it's classified, then please, talk to one of your friends. That military man you were telling me about. He sounds sweet. Maybe he can help you through this?"
"John," I supplied. "Maybe he can. He is definitely someone who's been through the ringer more than I have. I'm sorry, Mom, I'm such a mess."
Mom laughed. "Aren't we all, dear? Now why don't you freshen up and come into the kitchen to help me make your favorite meal. Then we can call your brothers and invite them over. Your nieces and nephews are very anxious to see you."
"I would like that, Mom, thanks," I told her, kissing her cheek.
As I walked through my childhood home, I looked around. I spotted a picture of my Dad and me at one of my dance recitals just before he died. I smiled. "Thanks for giving me the strength, Dad."