Author's Note: Sorry for the delay...work is evil! Special thanks to Hannah554! Enjoy!
Different Paths P2
"Let me get this straight," Sam said intently as she leant back on the edge of the desk and met John's gaze. "The device pulled you into an alternate reality where you saw what could have," she stressed the 'could have', "happened if you had continued to search for Dr. Weir. The Dr. Weir in that reality gave you the co-ordinates where that John and Ronon found her alive and well. Now you want to follow it up?"
"Yep. That about covers it," John replied, shifting in the chair that was in front of her desk. Ronon grunted in the background and folded his arms, obviously more then ready to go. Teyla, although more controlled than Ronon, seemed just as eager to find her missing friend. They all stared at Sam in anticipation. She sighed.
"You do realise that the reality you were pulled into could be completely different to what we face in ours. The planet might not exist, or if it does be uninhabited, or even worse…"
"Have Wraith, or the Big Bad bots. I know where your coming from, but if there's even the slightest chance she's there…" John finished hopefully.
"It would be more then worth the risk," Teyla supplied calmly. Sam met all of their stares, pausing momentarily on Ronon.
"I'm with them," he grumbled with a shrug, causing Sam to huff out a laugh and shake her head as she moved behind the desk.
"Alright. If, and I mean if everything checks out with the planet…"
"Already done," Rodney told her smugly as he marched in through the door. "The planet is there, along with the typical blue skies, green grass and trees that every planet in this galaxy has." He folded his hands over his chest and smirked widely. He surprised everyone when he clapped his hands together impatiently. "Come on then, lets go."
John chuckled as Ronon rolled his eyes. Teyla watched in amusement, her eyes meeting Sam's as she waited expectantly for her answer. Everyone else's soon followed.
"Ok, you can go," she told them, smiling at their obvious relief. "Just be careful, we don't know what's waiting for you out there. Remember, you won't be able to just come back through the gate if you get in trouble."
"No, we'll just get back in the jumper," John joked, and Sam couldn't help but notice how much his little trip had changed him. It seemed that hope had brought Colonel John Sheppard back. She just hoped it wasn't premature reaction.
"Alright guys, let's get prepared," John told his team, snorting when he realised they were half way into the control room. Rodney's excited chatter carrying back to his ears. He shoved his hands in his pockets and made it to the door…
"John," Sam called, causing him to stop and glance back. She studied him closely before finally speaking again. "What would you have done if I had said no?"
John's face became blank, but he replied immediately, without any hesitation. "No was never an option." Sam wasn't surprised and she smiled at him, nodding in respect. She understood perfectly well.
"I hope you find her," she said sincerely.
The planet fit McKay's description perfectly. With trees, grass and other plants it could have been any other typical Pegasus galaxy planet. John carefully scanned the terrain, his eyes expertly searching for any signs of life or anything that could be considered a threat. Ronon did the same as Teyla walked beside Rodney, who was alternating between staring at the detectors screen and eyeing the foliage with disdain. They headed off into the woods.
"Anything?" John asked, glancing at Rodney over his shoulder. The scientist shook his head.
"I'm not detecting anything. No human life signs or high energy readings," he sighed irritably.
"There is not much here," Teyla added, her disappointment evident.
"That doesn't mean anything," John defended, "they could be laying low."
"We'd still detect something," Rodney explained quickly.
"Not if they don't want to be found McKay. They're Replicators remember, they can build ZPM's without breaking a sweat. I don't think stealth is going to be an issue for them," John replied in frustration.
"Or maybe they are not here," Teyla said gently, hating that she had to say it, but knowing she had to.
"No," John protested defensively," they're here. I know it."
John faced forward again, but froze when he noticed Ronon subtly shift his stance and tighten his hold on his weapon, facing to the right. John and Teyla automatically lifted their weapons ready to defend themselves. Rodney wasn't as quick.
"What's going on?" He shrieked shifting closer to Teyla as he fumbled for his gun.
"McKay," John growled in warning. "Ronon, what do ya see?"
The Satedan grunted and reluctantly lowered his gun, then he quickly spun around and pointed it in the other direction. John quickly copied and found himself face to face with the business end of a weapon. He gulped and slowly lowered his gun. Ronon reluctantly followed, muttering a curse.
Looking past their 'new found friends' John saw Rodney and Teyla being held by several others. All of them wore the same simple outfits very similar to Earths camouflage. John would have bet the last Turkey sandwich in the whole galaxy on them being Replicators.
"Hey, there's no need for violence," John said sarcastically. "Can't we talk this out like adults."
"Come with us," ordered the person holding John at gun point. He seemed to be the leader of the group. The leader gestured to John's weapon and three others stepped forwards, talking the rest of the teams weapons from them.
"All you had to do was ask," John retorted sarcastically as he was non to gently pushed forwards, along with the rest of his team.
It wasn't long before they arrived at a rock face. A jagged path curved jaggedly around it until it disappeared into an opening. They were quickly ushered up the path and into the cave.
"Great. We come all the way to this planet to try and find Elizabeth and a group of Replicators and we get kidnapped by cavemen," Rodney muttered darkly, glaring at the man who gripped his arm tightly.
The lead guy stepped towards the wall and spoke into air. The rock in front of him simmered out of existence, revelling a corridor that look remarkably similar to Atlantis' hallways.
"Erm…McKay, I don't think they're simple cave folk," John remarked with raised eyebrows, hiding a grin as Rodney's face lit up in shock.
"How did you do that? A cloak?" Rodney blurted out, involuntarily stepping forward to try and get a closer look. Unsurprisingly, they ignored the question.
A few corridors later they found themselves being put behind a force field. It was a mirror image of Atlantis' brig. The man who seemed to be the only one able to talk looked at them through the force field. John couldn't really see much else so he settled for staring back.
"You will remain here until the commander deals with you." he explained.
"And your commander is?" John asked.
"Me…" John's head snapped around to the sound just in time to see Elizabeth slowly walk out of the shadows, wearing a very familiar leather jacket. He barely heard Rodney's surprised 'Oh my God, or Teyla's whispered 'Elizabeth'. He couldn't tear his eyes away. "You can let them out Kaneth. They're not a threat," she told their previous escort, who nodded obediently and lowered the force field.
John casually moved out of the cell after sparing his team a glance. McKay looked like someone had punched him and couldn't seem to take his eyes away from Elizabeth.
"Elizabeth, are you ok? Why didn't you contact us? We though you were dead! Couldn't you have spared a phone call?" McKay rambled, a mixture of concern and hurt. Elizabeth's lips upturned slightly and John could see a suspicious gleam in her eyes.
"Rodney," Teyla scolded in a heated whisper. He immediately shut up.
"These are the people of Atlantis," Kaneth stated with understanding, standing next to Elizabeth. Elizabeth nodded slowly.
"Lizabeth," John began, but Elizabeth held up her hand and after she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear she met John's gaze. What he was about to say was forgotten as he noticed the emotions in her eyes. She breathed deeply a few times before addressing Kaneth once more.
"Will you show them around?" She saw that Rodney was about to speak and beat him to it. "Let Rodney have a look at our computer. It should keep him out of trouble."
For once Rodney didn't protest, the thought of getting a look at the main computer way too tempting. He grinned at her as he moved to follow Kaneth, Teyla keeping step behind him. When she passed Elizabeth she smiled and bowed her head, causing Elizabeth to look away.
Ronon reluctantly followed at a much slower pace. Suddenly, he paused near to Elizabeth and looked down at her.
"It's good to see you," he stated simply before walking through the doors, leaving John and Elizabeth alone.
Silence reigned for a few moments as John studied her. So far, almost everything had matched with the alter-verse he had been pulled into, but he could see the differences instantly. She was different. She looked the same, but she seemed…reserved. That was when a stray thought rushed to the front of his mind. Something that alter-Elizabeth had said…
Oberoth had probed my mind so much that everything was so…distorted. If John hadn't come for me then I don't know what I would have done."
His throat threatened to close up at the though and he forced himself to move, so that he was standing right in front of her. He whispered 'Lizabeth' again and she slowly met his eyes.
"You okay?" He asked, barely more than a whisper. The familiar words seemed to affect her, her eyes darting to the floor as she bit on her lip.
"How did you find us?" she questioned.
"You told me where to look," he responded. She shot him a look and he couldn't help smirking at her as an ache developed in his chest. God, he'd missed this. "It's a long story," he explained.
After wandering the halls together for a while, Elizabeth had taken John to what could have been 'their' balcony, the only difference being that the view wasn't of the ocean, but of the whole launching bay.
John had explained the whole alter-verse incident and had even managed to make her laugh once or twice, a fact which he was very pleased about. She had told him that what her other self had said was more or less correct. He'd also briefly covered what had happened in Atlantis in her absence.
"It really isn't the same without you," he told her honestly, joining her at the edge. John looked down at the landing pad and gazed at the ship in awe. "I still can't believe you have your own ship, not to mention underground base. It's kind of cool," he grinned.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes at him, but couldn't help the smile that formed. She never could when it came to him and his 'boy-like' behaviour. She nearly jumped out of her skin when he absentmindedly grabbed her hand. His face fell when he saw her reaction.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm just still a bit jumpy I guess."
John's face darkened and he turned away, targeting the wall with his glare. He ran his hand through his hair angrily before turning to face her again.
"Don't," she cut off sternly. "It isn't your fault John."
"No buts. I remember ordering you very clearly…twice," she told him. "I know you would never leave anyone behind willingly John. I don't blame you. I never have and never will."
Elizabeth sighed and faced the landing bay, placing her arms on the railing. John joined her, giving her a playful nudge then mirroring her position. He gazed at her with a tender smile on his face. She looked at him, puzzled. He just smiled wider.
"What?" She asked self consciously.
"Nothing," he replied, "it's just…no-one can knock sense into me like you can." Elizabeth shook her head as John looked out towards the ship. "Rodney really missed you ya know," he stated simply.
Elizabeth linked her fingers together and bowed her head, nodding her acknowledgement.
"He was inconsolable…completely distraught," he continued, watching her from the corner of his eye. "I was ten times worse," he admitted softly, causing Elizabeth to look at him sharply, her eyes pained.
"John…" she whispered, her voice hoarse as she shook her head. John gripped her hand when she tried to move away, his thumb unconsciously caressing the back of her hand. Eventually, she relaxed her stance and looked up from their joined hands to John's face; it was calm on the surface, but she saw everything he didn't project in his eyes.
"I…I missed you too," she told him honestly. John smiled lightly and slowly, so that she wasn't surprised, pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. Her forearms were resting against his chest, keeping them apart. That changed when she slowly moved his arms around his neck, her head coming to rest on his shoulder.
He felt her silent tears seep through his top and tried to pull back, but Elizabeth shook her head so he remained where he was. Giving and receiving comfort all at once. He turned his head and rested his cheek on her hair.
"Come home Elizabeth," he pleaded softly.
"I can't," she answered, her voice cracking before she cleared it and pulled back, wiping her remaining tears away with her hand. Confusion showed on John's face.
"Why not? It's not as if you have to hide anymore. Oberoth and the other Replicators are gone. We destroyed them."
"I know. I was there," she told him. John's eyes widened as his mouth opened in shock.
"You were there and you didn't say anything?"
"John, please, let's not do this now," she implored, her hand gripping his jacket. He clenched his fist and breathed in deeply, not wanting to start an argument.
"You're right, it doesn't matter now," he said after a moment, before gazing into her eyes pleadingly. "Non of it matters as long as you come home."
"It's not that easy John," she argued, her hand falling away from his jacket. "So much has happened. I have responsibilities here now. I can't just leave them," she told him, gesturing towards the bay where the Replicators were working.
"We need you too Lizabeth," John countered softly. Her expression became torn as she gazed down towards her saviours, her friends. Despite how much they meant to her though, it didn't compare to Atlantis and the family she had discovered there. She would not abandon her new family though.
"Maybe it's time to talk about that alliance," was Elizabeth's only response.
An explosion of blue sent the personnel in the control into action as Sam marched out from her office.
"IDC?" She questioned.
"It's Colonel Sheppard's Ma'am." Chuck informed her with a smile, his anticipation clearly showing. Sam hid a grin, the Atlantis crew had been jumping out of their skin since they had received John's first transmission. Sam had to admit to herself silently, she was excited too.
"Lower the shield," she ordered, making her way down the steps. Lorne met her on the lower floor his face alight with anticipation. Their eyes fell on the event horizon.
John came through first, his grin giving away everything and that was when the room fell silent.
Sam moved forward.
"Welcome home Dr. Weir."
The gathered crowd cheered.
John strolled into McKay's lab and found the scientist participating in his new favourite past time: beating up the device that had pulled John into a different reality. He cleared his throat.
"Have you figured that thing out yet?"
"It won't work. I don't even know how it worked in the first place. It's as if there was never any power source there at all," Rodney sulked, pouting miserably. "Weren't you seeing Elizabeth off at the gate?" He questioned after a moments thought.
"Yeah, she left a few minutes ago," John informed him. "She'll be back in a couple of days though."
"Oh, so you thought you'd come down here and annoy me now that your girlfriend gone," Rodney complained. "Can't you see I'm trying to work here?"
"Trying being the word," John muttered under his breath, ignoring the girlfriend comment.
"Hey! It's not my fault I can't figure it out. It doesn't make sense. If I didn't know any better I'd say some outside influence was controlling this thing," he cried.
"McKay, just leave it. Let's go get some lunch…it's turkey sandwich day."
"Oh fine," the scientist huffed, dropping the device on the table and following John out of the room.
THE END...I mean it this time, despite what Hannah says! Lol!