Disclaimer: Not Mine. No Money. Having Fun. Etc.

AN: I keep thinking I don't understand Elizabeth at all, and then things like this happen. I keep looking for someone to blame.

She thinks she summed it up to John quite nicely when she told him she had no idea what she could possibly do now. She has seen the impossible, done the unthinkable, and nothing on earth will ever be good enough again.

Their first few days back are cushioned by meetings and debriefs and she can almost convince herself that it is only temporary. That in a few days or a week they'll be returning through the Stargate. She can't quite grasp the fact that they are never going back.

She is pissed, because she thinks she deserved the post more than Woosley. She spends the first week the closest to moping she's been since her parents wouldn't get her a dog when she was ten.

The apartment the SGC provides for her is sparse and impersonal, but she can't bring herself to add her own touch, because that means permanence and too much of her is still holding out hope that this is only temporary.

John is the first to email her at the end of the first week. She tells herself she will respond in a few days. He calls three days later and she let's the machine get it without hesitation after she sees the caller ID. She does not understand why she does this, only that she has no idea what to say to him.

Carson is the next to call. She is not surprised that he does not email. John has probably already told him she hasn't responded to his messages and Carson being Carson has probably switched in to worried mode.

She let's the machine get it. She stops checking her email the next day.

Rodney calls at the end of week three. She hesitates for a minute over the phone, because she figures it would be easier to talk to him than the others. But Rodney, like John and Carson, has moved on. A part of her is jealous that they have so easily found new places on an earth she no longer feels like she belongs. The rest of her is angry because it seems like they've forgotten. That it has been so easy for them to return to the lives they left because Atlantis was just another stop along the way. It has come to mean everything to her, and it angers her to think that it is not the same for them.

She knows that this is not true, but it is easier to hate them than it is to admit that she is ashamed of her inability to accept reality. She, Elizabeth Weir, who has lived in the Real World longer than most people, cannot seem to accept it.

The phone messages get all the more worried as the weeks pass. She can detect the slight note in John's usually rock steady voice. The slight unease that she assumes is born from the worry that she has not returned his calls because she does not want to talk to him. That this is proof that their relationship was nothing more than professional. Rodney's voice is annoyed. Carson's voice makes it sound like the thought that she has given up has crossed his mind.

She ignores them all. In the fourth week she buys a Sudoku book. It lasts three days before she remembers that she's never been good with numbers. She changes to crosswords.

In week five she ponders writing her memoirs. She jokes with herself when she wonders on what planet she would publish it.

Her apartment is starting to look like her own simply by value of the number of articles of her clothing lying around. She knows she should clean it, but every time she starts she only works for a few minutes before she looses all interest.

Her appetite is down. She orders take out instead of going to the store, too used to having meals cooked for her now, but she barely eats half of it.

She realizes with detached interest that she is exhibiting all the signs of depression. She laughs without humour when she thinks that she needs a meeting with Kate more than anyone else.

The knock on her door in week six startles her. No one has knocked since the day she moved in, when her neighbour came over to introduce himself as one of the many technicians employed at the SGC. She nearly does not open the door. She knows that Carson will not let her silence go as John or Rodney might have done.

She also knows that if she does not open the door, Carson will procure the key from the front desk on the grounds of medical concern and confront her anyways. She can see the concern in his eyes even through the peephole.

The relief is evident when she opens the door, though he tries to hide it. She suddenly realizes how she must look. Her track suit is wrinkled and her hair is greasy from three days without being washed. She is ashamed of herself. She is also, somewhere deep down inside, relieved that it is over.

Her mind races with excuses, all implausible when he invites her to dinner. Her acceptance lacks all the grace she once carried with her. After he leaves she cannot bring herself to move. It is irrational fear, but fear nonetheless.

It is nearly 6pm the next evening before she begins to get ready. She has gone through every emotional swing she can think of in the last twenty-four hours, but she has ultimately come to only one conclusion: She has to go.

She chooses red and black because she is comfortable in them.

Carson is careful to comment on how good she looks. She knows he is lying, but she is grateful nonetheless. John is waiting at the door to the restaurant. He is careful around her, almost as thought he is afraid she might break. She wonders how she went from the strong determined leader to basket case in a manner of weeks.

He does not mention the missed calls or unreturned emails. She wonders if Carson has told him what to say and how to act. She is annoyed that they think she needs tending. She is more annoyed at herself because it is true.

They make uneasy conversation until the appetizer is served. She welcomes the food because it means Rodney has stopped talking and she can pretend to concentrate on the meal. It is over too quickly. None of the guys seem to be in a rush to leave. John refills the wine glasses as dessert is ordered.

Rodney regales them with his horror stories of the levels of stupidity of his underlings at Area 51. John is commiserating. She is surprised to learn how disenchanted he is with his new command. She supposes the step from commander of a front-line base to commander of one of seventeen identical gate teams is a downward move.

She's trying not to glance at her watch; not to appear eager to end the evening. She takes a breath and makes her excuse. She can tell instantly that none of them are buying it. The ringing of their cell phones is a blessing unlooked (but not unasked) for.

Her eyes see the letters; processing them takes a moment longer. Her heart skips a beat; she forgets to breath.

For the first moment in six weeks she feels hope flutter within her. In the next hours it will be replaced by stark terror and determination.

And when it passes, she will be home once more.