I needed to write something that was mostly Elizabeth. Why? I don't know. As The Powers That Be...oh, and could you inquire as to why they've decided Mars bars should only be a UK treat?
What's up with that?
Disclaimers: Nothing is mine...absolutely nothing...
Title Reference - Van Morrison, of course. :)
With a six month quiet spell still in progress in the Pegasus Galaxy, Elizabeth Weir packed a bag and stepped through the Gate three days ago. She arrived in Colorado and smiled at the General without much conviction and after a formal debriefing she put herself on a plane and flew out to Middle of Nowhere, Maine for her brother's wedding. Somewhere along the way, there was a bridesmaid dress and a squealing woman she's met twice and the reminder of all the reasons why her older brother drives her crazy.
In the middle, between the tearful hellos and the genuinely interested inquiries into her career, she remembered that there was something missing from it all. At which point, she packed herself into her mother's car and drove twenty minutes down the road to the little cemetery that they'd buried her father in a month earlier. It was still a sore spot for her, one she didn't talk about with anyone. She hadn't been able to make it home and while everyone understood, she couldn't forgive herself for not seeing him before he died. Not yet, at least. If she allowed herself to think selfishly, she'd hate her brother just a little for deciding to go through with his wedding anyway, for dragging them all into a happy affair when it's quite obvious that they'd all rather hide away in the sad corners for the next few months.
But she can't think that way and when he asks her if she's happy for him, she says yes and pretends that it's true.
The day of the wedding arrives and she is forced to endure hours of girl talk and questions about her brother and indecisiveness about hairstyles. In the end, she puts her dress on, shakes her curls out, and sits out on the back deck with a beer and a head full of worries. She thinks that it is what her father would have done and that thought alone makes her smile.
The wedding goes well and her mother is happy, as are her other three brothers and their wives. She is the middle child and the only unwed one among them all. She feels as though she should explain herself to the rest of the family, but realizes that she can't.
Well, you see, I work for a highly secretive government agency and I'm currently in the middle of defending the known universe from a scourge of evil computer chips.
Who would believe her?
There are tearful toasts at the reception and the food is good and the whole time she wishes she was somewhere else. Not even Atlantis, per se, but anywhere outside the tiny Maine town with its J. Crew poster children and white picket fences. She can't even drink because tomorrow she will fly back to Colorado with her wrinkled dress and the ever knowledgeable Lieutenant John Sheppard has explained to her (on more than one occasion) that attempting Gate travel with a hangover is the equivalent to eating fried cheese while struggling through a bad case of food poisoning.
She wants to ask him why he knows this but decides that just accepting it as fact is an easier course of action.
It is almost ten o'clock and she's had enough of the crowded reception hall. She's standing at the bar waiting for the nice bartender to find her a bottle of water that she can sneak away with. She's not really sure why she does it, but when the good-looking guy at the end of the bar smiles at her and offers to buy her a drink she turns him down with an empty apology. She takes her water with her and wanders off into the throng of people that is the Weir-Brown wedding reception. The green bridesmaid dress makes it hard to disappear into the crowd, but she manages to make it outside onto the deck without anyone stopping her and she hopes this will keep her from being found.
She hates weddings, hates wedding receptions, and hates the coupling-off that's usually associated with all of the above. She's not a coupling-off kind of person. She's the kind of person that meets someone at a bookstore, falls madly in love with him, and rides off into the sunset on a Barnes & Noble credit card. The whole idea of meeting someone at a wedding and actually allowing something to happen is not only foreign, it's unwelcome.
She strolls down off the deck and onto the grassy knoll that overlooks the lake below. Behind her, the band begins to play some off-key rendition of "Into the Mystic" and for a split second it makes her want to cry. They're butchering Van Morrison and the worst of it is that was her father's song, the one he always sang because it was the only one he knew all the words to.
To top it all off, there doesn't seem to be a place to sit.
There used to be benches in this park – she remembers them from when she was little and her parents would take all of them here for picnics and pick-up softball games – but the benches are gone and the grass is immaculately cut and the trees are all just a little too perfect. She wonders if the reason her parents moved away was because of the cookie cutter image the little town was striving too hard to convey.
She isn't a cookie cutter kind of person, either.
She flounces her skirts and sits down on the grass, her open bottle balancing precariously next to her. There are lights reflecting off the dark water and they look like a reflection of the stars above. It makes her miss home, a home where the stars are different but the lights still reflect against the surface of the water.
A home where she actually gives a damn about the people around her instead of where she is now, surrounded by people she used to know and didn't really like even then. Her family is her only reason for coming back from Atlantis. The fact that her father died a month ago and that her brother and his new wife still chose to get married and that the weather ignored her memo about keeping the blue skies at bay (because why should everyone else be happy when she's quite obviously miserable?) is all just gravy.
Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, she thinks that maybe she should have stayed in the Pegasus Galaxy.
She wonders what her team is up to, what new and inventive ways of getting into trouble John and Rodney have discovered in her absence. She wonders if Teyla had that conversation with Ronon she had asked Elizabeth for advice on just before the leader left. She wonders if they even miss her or if things are moving along as they always do. It makes her think of something a scholar in Kashmir once said to her: Every stone in a river is important. While the current flows regardless of the things in its path, it is forever altered by the absence of something it once learned to move around.
She misses her city.
"Now correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't members of the wedding party supposed to participate in all of the humiliating events at the reception?"
If she were standing, the voice would have knocked her off her feet. As it is, her hand slips and she loses her balance, landing her on her back on the grass. She looks up at the intruder with wonder in her eyes.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she asks and John Sheppard shrugs his patented shrug.
"I thought you could use the support," he says as he comes down the steps towards her. "Plus, I heard there was going to be a money dance and I'm a sucker for garter belts."
She watches him from her prone position on the cool grass. He holds his hand out to her, a hand that has grabbed a hold of her many times and pulled her up out of countless bottomless pits. She takes it and he pulls her to her feet.
"Sorry I'm late," he says. "I forget that New England is full of back roads that all look the same."
"Who told you what was going on?" she asks as she brushes grass from her skirt. She slaps playfully at his hand when he tries to help her.
"Teyla," he says around a laugh.
She should have known. She told Teyla about the wedding, though she never mentioned her father. It makes her wonder if John knows. Her hand falters at this thought, though she's unsure of the reason why. He catches her as she sways slightly and his own hands – strong hands that she occasionally thinks about in a very unprofessional way – cup her elbows, keeping her steady. She smiles slightly and he cocks his head to one side in a gesture she knows all too well. He's studying her to see if something's wrong.
"Liz? You okay?" There is concern in his voice, now, and the nonchalant flyboy attitude has slipped just slightly. She bites back at tears she didn't even know she wanted to cry and nods her head sharply.
She can honestly say that she's never been happier to see someone in her life than she is at this moment. The last three days disappear and the loneliness she's been fighting off goes with them. On impulse (one that she will later deny to herself), she throws her arms around him and hugs him fiercely. It takes him a minute, but soon his arms go around her and squeeze tightly. He feels real.
"Seriously, you okay?" he whispers.
She takes a deep breath and tries to ignore the smell of fresh soap and wood smoke that always seems to cling to him. She smiles against his shoulder.
"I didn't think I was, but now…now I'm pretty sure that I will be."
She stares over his shoulder at the lights on the dark surface of the water and for the first time in a long time, she knows it's the truth.
Money Dance: Bridesmaids and groomsmen collect dollar bills from people who want to dance with the bride and groom. Whoever has the most money collected at the end, wins. Great way to start off a marriage, what with the whole "You make more than I do" issue...