"…'N' then they got maah-rid." He sing-songed, shifting his feet and turning away towards the puddle-jumpers.
"Actually they didn't."
He stopped at this and tilted his head up as he looked at her dubiously. He'd evinced as much interest as could be expected in her child-friendly recounting of Colonel Sheppard and Dr Weir's situation but he was a perfectly normal little boy, which meant his focus was on getting straight to what the museum staff wryly called the 'testosterone central' exhibits.
"Grown-ups get married so they can do all that kissing stuff." The words were faintly challenging; as a fully eight-years-old 'man of the world', he was sure of the fact that grown-ups who kissed had to get married. It was the rules.
"That's normally true, but Colonel Sheppard and Dr Weir – John and Elizabeth…couldn't get married."
Scowl at the idea one of his testosterone-heroes was unable to do something. Dr Weir didn't count – sure she'd been brainy but she'd been a girl and girls were just weird and annoying. "Why not?"
"The…logistics were impossible."
"Logistics is what you have to do to make sure what you plan to do works," she defined in child-friendly terms. "Like…when your parents took you on vacation, they couldn't just get up that morning, throw stuff in suitcases and set off…they had to do the logistics first. That included booking vacation time from their work, finding a nice hotel, making sure they could afford the cost, arranging for Mrs Overmeyer to come and check your cats and the mail for the week. All those things had to be in place and work for you to be able to go on vacation."
"And they couldn't fix their luh-jisticks?" He looked at her steadily.
"No, they couldn't." It was amazing how difficult it was, this first outright lie she'd uttered, rather than carefully phrased mostly-truths. Logistics had had nothing to do with Weir and Sheppard never making it to an altar, malice had.
It wasn't any great leap for anyone interested enough to check to guess why Colonel Sheppard had taken two days out of his already extremely short vacation to visit Dr Elizabeth Weir; and there were plenty of people interested for reasons of spite and other mean-spirited motives. He'd returned to the SGC and an unpleasant interview with Dr Richard Woolsey who – with surprising authority – had overridden General Landry by pointing out that Sheppard was his Chief Military Officer, not the SGC's. Astonishingly, perhaps Woolsey had had a heart after all; maybe that was why Sheppard had escaped with a 'letter of instruction' on his P-file instead of a more serious 'letter of admonition' – or even the dreaded 'letter of reprimand' that left careers dead in the water.
Whatever the case, he'd been smart enough not to give any clue that his visit had involved anything more than just giving Elizabeth the heads-up about her Asuran copy. However, his team quickly figured it out, starting with Ronan Dex. The Satedan was aware that humans for some reason made a correlation between size and stupidity and that some people presumed his IQ decreased in direct proportion to his bicep size. Since being 'assumed' to be big and dumb had saved his ass in several water-up-to-the-willows-and-still-rising situations, he had never bothered to 'explode the myth'. But Ronan was smart, very definitively masculine, a warrior and a fellow comrade-in-arms…enough to twig on that John Sheppard, however discreetly, was happy in that peculiarly 'male sexual fulfilment' way. Again, it was no great strain to connect the dots.
Teyla Emmagen, also, was a warrior and no fool; she had no naïve romanticism, certainly not as the mother of hybrid son at constant risk of kidnap by the Wraith Michael, a baby whose baby's conception owed more to technology rather than…'oh yeah, let's get horizontal' mutual passion. Her maternity had probably made her more aware of the nuances.
Rodney, less perceptive about 'emotional subtleties' but having the genius brain, hadn't been slow either. In fact, Rodney had taken on a sort of 'perpetual best man' role and ganged up with Ronan and Teyla to 'facilitate and enable'. Any long-distance relationship is a strain and requires total commitment from both parties…one conducted across several galaxies where the two participants only saw each other for a few days several months apart and were surrounded by those who would severely disapprove required heroic mutual effort and diligence. Rodney had come up with several handy solutions, as well as devious schemes cooked up by his more than willing partner-in-crime, Radek Zelenka, including taking 'ensemble' vacations with John, himself, Ronan, Teyla and the baby to visit Elizabeth en masse. The fact that he, Ronan, Teyla and the baby discreetly cleared off about…oh two minutes later…was nobody else's concern.
And when busybodies had tried to make it so, they found themselves pitted against a brilliant mind determined to ensure his friends' privacy was protected and their relationship maintained against snoopers, prurient prying interferers and other self-appointed judge-jurors. They also found out the hard way their folly in making a scientific genius they needed far more than he needed them very angry.
So there had been other attempts to derail what some took it upon themselves to decide and decree was not permissible, often on spurious grounds. The fact that Elizabeth was no longer any part of John's chain-of-command had been a big spanner in those machinations, but a lot of sniping had been made, both verbally and in written, officiously grandiloquent 'reports', about 'over-familiarity', 'breakdown of chain of command', 'fraternisation'; as well as 'sends the wrong message'. There had also been unacceptable commentary about the fact that Sheppard was a few years younger than Elizabeth and…it had been uttered with salacious innuendo…the junior partner.
Idiots; like sexist morons who believed that 'machismo' was a synonym of 'manliness', when instead it was diametrically opposite to everything a real man was, they assumed 'submissive' was a synonym of 'subservient'. John Sheppard hadn't got a subservient cell in his entire body and never had had; if he chose to be submissive it was by consent, not coercion - and the mutually-agreed dynamics of his and Elizabeth's relationship was nobody else's business but their own.
But, Elizabeth had been consistently refused passage to Atlantis, the Atlanteans who John and Elizabeth would have wished to share their joy were never able to get Earthside at the same time – if Rodney got vacation, Radek Zelenka would be refused; if John Sheppard got vacation, Evan Lorne would be on duty. By mutual agreement, the couple refused to have a 'make do' ceremony unless everyone they cared for and wanted to be present had been able to attend.
So they just carried on, and the gleeful 'derailers' instead found that they had created nothing but ill will and censure for themselves. An even worse backfiring from their viewpoint was that Elizabeth and John's dignified conduct in the face of such undeserved contempt and disrespect elicited support and even co-opted assistance from those whose conservative nature meant that they otherwise disapproved, strongly, of John and Elizabeth's relationship. Richard Woolsey, generally a by-the-book stickler, General 'Hank' Landry, a definitely non-fraternisation martinet, and John's far-from-friend fellow-officer Colonel Caldwell had all moved from silent disapproval to subtle acts of support out of disgust at the wilder accusations and more extreme attempts at sabotage they witnessed.
"But what about when they had children…" he pounced.
"John and Elizabeth never had any children."
Ah, now they came to his focal point. He was facing her fully, his intention of heading straight to the Ronan and Teal'c exhibits to play with the weaponry and re-enactments of combat interactive displays completely if temporarily forgotten.
This was what it was all about – after six years as an only child, his parents had spent most of his seventh year telling him they were going to give him something wonderful. Instead of the completely flyable (and expensive) working model of Atlantis with puddle-jumpers and battery-powered programmable action-figures he'd got instead…a baby brother: smelly, screaming and non-programmable.
Months of bottled up resentment had come to a head in a running-away attempt and, when his parents had caught up at Grand Central, a very public temper tantrum off the scale involving 'you lied', 'you kept telling me I was getting a great present', 'I hate you' 'I'm not coming home, I'm to find a new mom and dad to live with until you get rid of it', 'I don't care what's it's called!' 'I hate you and that thing!' and 'No! No! Let go! No! Get off me! I'm not coming! No!' finished off by a wild bout of thrashing and kicking and blind running which had almost ended in tragedy had he not been grabbed before he ran, due to unseeing fury, into the path of a car.
Both parents and child had been devastated – he would not forgive their deception and they could not, of course, acquiesce to the rejection of one child by the other. The fact that child who had been the centre of his family for six years would be unlikely to react well to a sibling everyone else doted on and cooed over at his expense was a reality that in retrospect they had hidden from and been in denial about.
Finally, though, came the Bright Idea. Showcase the positive 'sibling affection', the camaraderie that had existed between his heroes – Jack O'Neill and Teal'c, John Sheppard and Ronan Dex and so on. All kids knew them, that was part of their appeal, and the permanent Washington D.C. exhibits were easily accessible at the Smithsonian. It was ideal for a kid whose focus involved anything to do with spaceships, saving the universe from Ori/Wraith/Goa'uld/Replicators, being able to use zats and 'P-90s' at the interactive displays.
Even better, Phase two of the Idea would subtly reinforce the bonds his heroes had shared – those individuals had been part of a family; the lack of genetic connection between them had been utterly irrelevant to that fact. By getting him to absorb the fact that Sheppard, Weir, Ronan Dex, Teyla Emmagen, McKay, Zelenka and all the others as well as General O'Neill, Cam Mitchell, Sam Carter, Teal'c, Daniel Jackson etc., had respectively been family to each other, it would encourage him to make room for the baby he currently saw only as an intruder, an unwanted nothing-but-bad interloper.
Most important, tell him some of the individual stories, the missions that hadn't gone according to plan, those situations where his heroes had been in conflict with each other rather than a common enemy, where they had had to adjust to new team mates, where they had had arguments with each other, where they had been angry with each other and yelled and stomped off…but they had come back, because they were family, and they loved each other and cared for each other, and that was more important than anything.
It wasn't as if there was any dearth of material; SG-1 alone provided entire volumes full, even if you didn't count any of the other SG Teams or the Atlantis Expedition teams. Perhaps the most serious had been the estrangement between Daniel Jackson and Jack O'Neill following the Euronda mission – and the latter's hairbreadth brush with the disaster of enabling a bunch of genocidal racists to massacre half their planet. Then there had been the 'death' of the Milky Way's Replicator progenitor, and the tension that caused.
Or for a different flavour, there had been the Sheppard-McKay Bicker-thon. The two men's entire friendship was based on the fact that they were, apparently, just engaged in one perpetual argument that they continued with their entire lives, occasionally meandering off at tangents and convoluted side-detours. Again, there had been actual estrangements – McKay's obsessive-compulsive disorder led to him blocking out rationality half the time and had it not been for Sheppard he would have killed himself as well as wiping out of the Duronda solar-system trying to make an anti-Wraith weapon work. But conversely Sheppard too often forgot McKay wasn't his underling; what about those times he had blamed and berated McKay for failing to meet his wholly unrealistic expectations of a McKay Instant Miracle – just add hot water and stir.
So now she said, "You know Elizabeth Weir was kidnapped by the Asuran Replicators and it took a long time for her to get better?"
"Well, she wasn't able to have children."
Again, truth, surrounded by a bodyguard of lies – or at least big fibs. It was true that Elizabeth had been a few years older than John Sheppard when the Atlantis Expedition was first commissioned, but that wouldn't have been a problem with the reproductive technologies available even many years down the line. The sticking point had been the Asuran nanites it was impossible to remove from Elizabeth's body. Sure they'd remained consistently dormant, but there was no way to predict whether the presence of a foetus would reactivate them, whether to protect it or harm it, or what they would then proceed to do. After all, what would Elizabeth and John do if the baby transpired to possess Replicator nanites in his or her physiology?
In addition to that, Rodney had picked up on a nebulous Trust plot to kidnap any child for 'experimentation' on exactly that basis. And that would've ended up in the bloodbath to end all others, pity the fools who snatched John Sheppard's child…a few MIB wannabes with snakes in their heads thought they would get the better of a man who had solidly kicked Wraith and replicator ass, as well as his equally as motivated friends – like genius Rodney and über-warrior Ronan Dex?
"But…" he scuffed his sneaker on the tile as he struggled to formulate the question, now fully engaged with the story, "…they y'know…were happy right?" he awaited confirmation with clear anxiety.
"Yes, they were…"
Mostly…Of course neither of them nor the world in which they lived had been perfect, far from it, but John and Elizabeth had known what they were getting into from the beginning, and just how much hard work, ability to laugh at themselves – and willingness to forgive each other – would be necessary.
In all their life together, there had only been one serious glitch, a brief estrangement a few years in when there had been pressure on all sides – the Ori and the Wraith had been squeezing, there had been incredible tensions, injuries, losses, increasing public awareness of the Stargate, 'disagreements' with terrestrial and galactic allies and, always, the greedy and power-hungry remorselessly following their own agendas no matter what innocents got hurt or dead to get what they wanted.
Elizabeth had been deeply involved in intensive negotiations with her counterpart – a middle-aged, affluent, handsome bachelor noted as a womaniser – and John had fought some hard-won missions against the Wraith, losing two good men in the process, and nearly having Evan Lorne make it three, had it not been for some epic surgery by Jenny Keller and the man's sheer refusal to die. Made irrational by stress, John had believed Elizabeth was having an affair, and a visit to Earth had resulted in heated accusations of her adultery. The upshot of which was that Elizabeth had ended their relationship.
Of course, once he'd stormed back to Atlantis and vented, Ronan had called him an idiot, then Teyla, then Rodney, then Radek – Lorne had actually called him to the infirmary and delivered a grossly insubordinate opinion of his CO's IQ and character defects …even Richard Woolsey had called John into his office and elucidated the irrationality of John's viewpoint as if John were a rather slow-witted child. As Woolsey pointed out, people who have been terribly betrayed in such a manner as adultery by someone they loved and trusted implicitly are highly unlikely to go and do the same thing to a subsequent partner, precisely because they know how devastating it is. Both John and Elizabeth had previously been on the receiving end of such a betrayal, and John's accusations had been a grievous insult to Elizabeth's integrity and loyalty. By then, such interventions were largely unnecessary as John realised his own insecurities – and a strong predilection to being jealous – had resulted in a set of self-created fears and anxieties.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth hadn't been accepting any contact from John Sheppard by any media; they were over, done, finito. Emails, calls, letters, attempts to personally see her (she'd changed the house locks, all her numbers and had him barred from her offices) – were all flatly rebuffed. Not even John's increasingly desperate pleas through Drs Beckett and Keller, Lorne, Radek, Ronan, Teyla and even Colonel – by then Brigadier-General – Sam Carter had elicited any softening; he'd even gone higher, but Lt. Generals Landry and Hammond and Major-General O'Neill had, wisely, steered clear – as had the President.
Happily, John had one ace-in-the-hole, the relentless, the inexorable, the King of Pester Power…Rodney McKay. The legend had it that Rodney wangled a visit to Elizabeth Weir and simply wore her down by 48-hours of non-stop talking, though that was highly unlikely. But whatever the truth, it had been Rodney McKay who had taken action to heal the breach and reconcile the pair, a debt he had – gleefully - never, ever, ever let John Sheppard forget he owed him. Apart of that one brief skid though, their relationship had survived the many various rocks deliberately or incidentally hurled against it.
"…always happy…?" he repeated the question, determinedly.
And she understood the sub-text; he was a lot more tolerant of his toddling brother now, but he wanted the reassurance about this seismic change in his family. Do mom and dad still love me? Am I important to them? What if they love my brother more than me? He was only eight, and like all children, believed in happily-ever-after.
"Yes, they were."
She gave the confirmation snap and authority. After all, it was true. Though they'd never been able to formalise their relationship, John Sheppard and Elizabeth Weir had had twenty years together, years of a deep and enduring love, until Elizabeth had died in her sleep, a massive blood clot stopping her heart between one beat and the next, so fast not even the dormant nanites within her body had responded. Barely into her sixth decade she had been far, far too young in a society where people were by then living active healthy lives until their mid-120s, but John and Elizabeth had treasured their time together because they both knew how incredibly lucky she was to have that time at all.
But she'd done enough subtle psychological sign-posting for today, and it was time for a bit of old-fashioned shoot-'em-up fun. "So, do you want to visit the Ronan exhibit first or the Teal'c one? I hear that the Ronan's got a new Wraith Dart versus Puddle Jumper game pod?"
"Coool. Yeah, Ronan!" he grinned happily and they set off; he looked up at her. "Er…y'know stories about how grown-ups are romantic and stuff…?"
"How did General O'Neill and General Carter come to get married?"
C D Stewart
Of all the female 'Stargate' characters, I liked "Elizabeth Weir" the most, because Torri Higginson's portrayal reminded me of JAG character "Sarah Mackenzie".
I only saw a couple of JAG Season 1 eps, and its cancellation didn't surprise me – I couldn't tolerate the buxom, blonde breathy 'Melanie Griffiths lite' 'Meg Austin' character and she was totally implausible. When I accidentally caught an episode a couple of seasons later with Catherine Bell as the female lead, I couldn't believe the depth and believability she brought to the role of a female Marine and became an avid viewer of the show till the end, plus the NCIS spin-off.
I have to admit in Children of the Gods my first sight of Amanda Tapping nearly had me hitting the 'off' button. She saved Stargate for me by her droll delivery of that 'we had to MacGyver' line; her performance as Sam Carter was never less than excellent in terms of being so much more than the 'token female lead' – she was Catherine Bell without being brunette.
So, yes, I winced when I saw Jessica Steen in Lost City Part 1 & 2, because I'd been expecting a 'hot blonde'. I took one look and it confirmed my suspicion that male American TV executives/network 'suits' came only in two flavours – middle-aged sexist dinosaurs going through the male menopause, or 23-year-old just-graduated college know-it-alls who emotionally were still horny '16-year-olds' that needed anti-testosterone injections. It smacked so much of those early attempts to find a 6-foot stacked Scandinavian blonde actress to play Dana Scully instead of the superlative Gillian Anderson.
In fact, of course, Steen acquitted herself very well as Weir and she was nothing less than perfect as Agent Paula Cassidy in NCIS, Deputy Haiduk in Supernatural, and so forth. But I just never thought she gelled as Weir, which may be why she decided against taking the role.
But when I saw Torri Higginson, I knew they'd got it spot on. She was a perfectly proportioned woman, not a bottle-blonde with endless legs and a cleavage you could ski-down foisted on the show by some idiot 'manager' who thought going for the cheap T&A ratings puller amongst emotionally stunted male viewers was a good idea. (Remember the casting of Jeri Ryan as Seven in Voyager – I grew to like the character, but does anyone believe she was cast for her acting ability or because she was a stacked blonde who could stalk with sinuous grace wearing a skin-tight jumpsuit?)
Torri Higginson's Elizabeth was feminine without being 'girlie', she had dignity and authority without being a ball-breaker and was never anything other than completely believable and top-notch as someone who had all the responsibility of leading the Atlantis Expedition. If Atlantis were real, for instance, I'd pick Weir over Marshall Sumner – and yes – John Sheppard – to be in charge any day. There was also that chemistry between the 'Weir' and 'Sheppard' – just that extra bit of awareness; it made a change from the Alpha Male/Female Underling cliché and was an interesting twist when the male half of the mutual appreciation society was (a) a couple of years younger, (b) the subordinate/junior-ranked character (yes, I know Torri Higginson is actually 2 years younger than Joe Flanigan, it was the maturity and authority she brought to the Elizabeth Weir role, combined with his enthusiastic (occasionally over-so) attitude as John Sheppard that enabled her to convincingly play the part as 3-4 years older than the others)
That's why I wrote this 'resolution' to the character's storyline when Torri Higginson confirmed she would not be reprising her role in Season 5. Considering she had only been confirmed to guest star for one episode to boot after being 'downgraded' at the end of Season 3 to recurring in Season 4, her decision is understandable. As a fan, I think she brought Stargate: Atlantis to such a good level in terms of appealing to intelligent, savvy female viewers, but also as a fan…she was given a 5-year contract and asked to move to Vancouver, then found her contract wasn't worth the paper it was written on and seemed to be expected to stand in the corner and accept whatever scraps were thrown.
If it had been me…you don't treat people that disrespectfully and expect them to be there when you want them. It reminds me of J. Michael Straczynski and the way he messed around with poor Claudia Christian to the Season 5 contract of Babylon 5 to the exclusion of all else when it turned out she was only part of the story line for half the episodes anyway.
I know the writers/producers of Stargate: Atlantis tend to be of the XY chromosome variety, but I sincerely hope that network pressures not they themselves were responsible for their treatment of Weir the character and Higginson the actress. I suspect so given the folly of 'killing off' Carson Beckett, also in Season 3 – though they clearly recognised that goof-up almost immediately. – and bringing in Sam Carter; Amanda Tapping was never really given a proper role in the show and the big problem was that Sam Carter immediately rendered Rodney McKay's character superfluous and vice versa – having both in the same show was pointless; there was also no chemistry at all between Carter-Sheppard and Carter-Teyla, not in the way there was between Weir-Sheppard and Weir-Teyla. In fact, half the time it seemed as if the series was writing to an attraction between Weir-Sheppard and the other half Sheppard-Teyla, yet it is obvious that the Teyla-Ronan dynamic is much stronger than the Sheppard-Teyla – it seems to me there was no firm direction given and the writers were just scrambling to produce the Plot of the Week and squeezing in vague overall story arc hints as and when they could.
The main problem with your favourite shows is always the TV network/studio people calling the shots, as these 'suits' never seem to learn their lesson. They always seem to fall into the trap of complacency – which I think happened here; they made the ridiculous decision to cancel SG-1 'because it had had 10 seasons' (Why, that was like killing the golden goose because it had laid its 100th egg?) and go to TV movie to save money, and I think the whole Carson-Weir thing was similarly an attempt to shave costs off the show, which didn't work – Paul McGillion was an outstanding member of the cast and his scenes – particularly with David Hewlett – were pure joy to watch. The WB made the same ghastly mistake when it stabbed Angel Season 5 in the back, and reaped a misery of bad publicity and loss of public goodwill as a result.
I hope Seasons 5 & 6 of SGA are written without any – or too much – interference of this kind. Atlantis has great characters available to it and not just the "leads" – besides Sheppard, McKay, Teyla, Ronan and Zelenka you have Katie Brown, Laura Cadman, Evan Lorne, Lt Parrish, (Kate Heightmeyer, who they again killed off in Season 4 – why?) even that motor-mouth pathologist from Season 1 – Dr Biro – was a joy to watch on-screen – you don't need to keep bringing in 'hot' young women in an attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator, though I don't for a second think Jewel Staite falls into this category.
But they've brought her character in, and the superb Robert Picardo, as well as resurrecting Carson, so why not start writing for those great characters they've already got? Messing about your actors only results in you losing wonderful cast members of Torri Higginson's high calibre, and you can only lose a couple before you're in deep trouble.
I know the show has hinted at an attraction between Sheppard and Teyla as well as or instead of Sheppard and Weir, and I know my 'resolution' won't be everyone's cup of tea. I just didn't want to leave the character hanging forever in mid-air or see something like what happened in Star Trek: Voyager when, after 6½ seasons of suppressed sizzle between Janeway and Chakotay, the writers for some reason of insanity or stupidity inserted a grand romance, literally out of thin air, between Seven and Chakotay – it was nonsensical and totally implausible. I hope that my story is, even if you don't like it from the relationship POV, vaguely plausible to the nature and personality of the characters.