Title: Back home
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: From her vantage point, she watched the sunrise hit Atlantis's towers
Character/Pairing: Elizabeth Weir
Spoilers: First Strike and general season 4 spoilers
Prompt Number: #14 Sunrise
From her vantage point, she watched the sunrise hit Atlantis's towers.
The sun was barely rising, but with no obstacles in the way, it was already illuminating the City, making it glow in the red morning sun. Soon, the City's inhabitants would wake up and the new day would start; briefings, missions to new worlds, maybe new discoveries made by the scientists. Who knew? Not her. Not anymore.
Atlantis wasn't hers anymore, hadn't been for months, but she couldn't help but come back here. It was her home, but it was wasn't. They were her friends, but they weren't. She was their leader but she wasn't. Not anymore.
She didn't belong to Atlantis, to this world anymore. She shouldn't be here, but she was. She couldn't help herself. But she never came any closer, didn't show herself, didn't check on those who were her friends, her responsibility. She wasn't allowed to. They weren't already too enthralled by her presence within them, weren't too happy to know that she watched the City from afar, but they couldn't say anything; some of them were coming back sometimes too. They were as attached to Atlantis as she was.
"You miss them," her companion stated.
She didn't need to say anything, he knew her, knew that she cared for those who were her people, for the City that was once hers.
"Do you know why I helped you?" he continued.
"You never told me," she shook her head no, turning towards him, before reminding him. "Though, I've asked you a few times."
"I guess the answer is long overdue, then." They shared a smile before he turned serious again. "I owed you one, like your people say."
"What? I don't understand."
"You helped me save the City…," he started but she interrupted him.
"It wasn't me, Janus," she protested.
"Yes, it was. It was a different you, another version of you, but it was you. You, the other you if you'd rather, you sacrificed your entire life to keep the shield from collapsing too early, to help me realise my project."
"But thanks to you, the expedition survived. If someone owed something to anyone, it's me and this entire expedition to you."
"We should stop arguing about that," Janus concluded with a smile, knowing that they would never reach an agreement. "You deserved my help, you deserved to ascend. I should have offered it to you when you first needed it, and not wait. But the others, they've prevented me from doing it, because…," he stopped, not sure if he should continue.
"Because…?" she prompted, wondering what the others wanted to do.
"They knew what would happen. The nanites, Doctor McKay's program…"
"They wanted the Asurans to take care of the Wraith?" she asked, but before he could answer, she continued. "They knew Rodney and the others would find a way to defeat the Asurans, they just needed time. And if they could help with the Wraith in the meantime, it was all for the better. Am I right?"
"Yes," he answered, lowering his eyes. "They were ready to sacrifice you."
"I was dead anyway," Elizabeth replied.
"But you could have ascended sooner if they hadn't stopped me. You wouldn't have lived all that…"
"Don't blame yourself, Janus. I'm here thanks to you." She put a hand on his arm, smiling at him.
Janus was quite surprised to see that there was no anger in her eyes, neither at him nor at the others. It was as if she was just thankful of being there now, and that was when he finally understood. She was happy to be able to keep an eye on the City she led for the last few years. She just wanted to be as close as possible to it.
"You still haven't answered my first question. Do you miss them, Elizabeth?" he repeated.
"I do. Everyday. But it's not like they would allow me to go see them, right? Even if they don't see me…," she trailed off, knowing that she should stop talking about it, stop thinking about it altogether. "We should leave. Didn't you say you wanted to show me something? You talked about a waterfall…"
"Do you want to go back?" Janus asked, cutting her off.
"Yes, I told you, we should go…"
"No, Elizabeth. I'm asking if you want to go back, here," he said, pointing towards Atlantis, "to your friends." He paused, waiting for her answer. "Tell me, Elizabeth," he prompted when it was clear she wouldn't answer.
"Don't make me think about what can not be," she whispered, turning her back to him.
"But it can be, Elizabeth. You know you can go back. Doctor Jackson came back twice. You can too, if you want to."
A long silence followed Janus's words, but he knew better than to try and make her talk when she was obviously not ready. Not this time.
"They'll never accept me back," she finally voiced her worst fear; her fear to be rejected.
"Yes, they will. Elizabeth, your friends want you back, don't ever doubt that. They miss you as much as you miss them." He paused, knowing that she needed time to realise that he was saying the truth. "You're the same as before the accident, before even the nanites entered your body. They are gone for good, they're not waiting in a corner of your body for you to be asleep to take over. You're completely free of the nanites. And if a good job was done, your bad knee might even be gone, too," he tried to cheer her up, and it seemed to work as she let out a chuckle. "Here. I'd rather see you smiling than on the verge of crying, and I'm sure I'm not the only one."
"Janus…," she warned him to not go on this topic.
"I know, I know, you told me many times to never talk about that, but you know it's the truth."
"I know I won't have any problems with my friends," she went back to the subject at hand, not wanting to dwell on the other one. "But the others and the IOA… I know they would be suspicious. I know I would be too in their place."
"Elizabeth… There's really only one question to ask yourself, and it's the same one that I've already asked you. Do you want to go back?"
She took her time to answer, though her heart was screaming the answer at her since he first asked the question. But part of her was still unsure about what would happen once she gave her answer. Things wouldn't change, couldn't change just because she wanted them to. But what if they could? What if she was able to go back to the place she called home?
Turning away from the City and Janus, she faced the sunrise. Redness was now gone and left the place to the yellow sun of the day. People of Atlantis were probably all up and about by now. She remembered those times when, while sitting in her office, she watched the control room come to life with the night shift leaving the place in the morning crew's hands. She wouldn't forget how she liked the time when the City was just waking up.
She remembered those mornings she watched the sunrise from the balcony, her balcony like some had taken to call it. Sometimes, she was alone, but more often than not, she would be joined by John, bringing her a fresh cup of coffee. She had often seen him alone in that very same balcony since she had ascended, and deep inside, she knew what that meant; he was seeking her out, trying to stay as close to her as possible. She watched him from afar, never coming close, afraid that she would somehow reveal herself if she would just stand beside him.
Turning back towards Janus, she nodded imperceptibly, but it was enough for him to understand. He smiled at her, and she knew that she had made the right choice.
"Is there any way I could go back fully clothed?" she voiced her concern. After all, she had heard of these two times when Daniel Jackson descended and was naked, and if she could avoid it, she would be more than happy.
"I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but no," Janus replied with a sad smile on his face. "I can't do anything about that. But I can make sure that you won't descend where there are people."
"Thank you. I guess that's better than nothing."
"Are you ready?"
"Just one moment. I… Thank you, Janus, for everything. For having helped me ascend, for having stood by me, for helping me again, for everything. You're a real friend to me."
"You don't have to thank me, Elizabeth," Janus said, visibly touched by what she said. "You're a great person to be around too. If the others weren't sticking by their prejudices, they would have seen it too. I can assure you that you're sorely missed by your friends, and that they'll be happy to see you again. As for myself, I'll keep an eye out on you from here. I can't help you out if you're in need, of course, the others wouldn't let me, but I want you to know that I'll be there, somewhere."
"And that means a lot to me." She paused for a moment, and was about to tell him she was ready, when another question came to her mind. "Will I remember everything?"
"Yes. Don't worry about that. You haven't seen anything that could help your people in the future. There's no reason for me to erase part of your memory."
"Then… I think I'm ready." She leaned up towards Janus and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you again."
"Just like you, well the other you, did last time," he said with a smile.
"I guess it means that I'm true to myself. Will we see each other again?"
"One day, we will. I can't tell you when, but we will. Goodbye, Elizabeth."
She closed her eyes as a flash of light blinded her.
When she came back to herself, she was lying on a bed, naked. Janus had been nice enough to not have her descend in the middle of the gateroom, but in some quarters instead. A sheet was covering her, and as well as the pillow her head was on, it held a familiar scent. She sat up in the bed and looked around her, and understood why it was familiar; she knew these quarters.
The guitar sitting against the wall, the poster on said wall, the skateboard waiting to be picked up in a corner, the same skateboard that she had confiscated from his owner twice, all this reminded her of only one person.
She was in John's quarters, and he was obviously not there. She let out a sigh of relief; she didn't want to face him while wearing nothing. She didn't know what it would look like to others, but for her part, she was feeling like a prostitute waiting for her next client. She took a moment to look around the room, and did notice that not many things had changed since the last time she'd been there. It was as if time had stopped. As if John was spending as little time as possible in his quarters.
She couldn't help but wonder why Janus had descended her in those particular quarters of all places. Why hadn't he descended her in Teyla's? She looked up towards the ceiling and hoped that if he couldn't see it, he would feel her glare wherever he was.
She stopped thinking about what she would do to him next time she saw him as she heard footsteps just outside the door. Before she could think more about it, it switched open and John entered his quarters. He couldn't see her as his eyes were on the floor, but he must have sensed that something wasn't quite right as he stopped dead in his tracks. He raised his head slowly and finally noticed her lying on his bed.
The door closed behind him, sealing them off together, and Elizabeth figured that she ought to be the first one to talk.
"Hello, John," she said, and immediately cringed as she realised that it sounded way more seductive than she intended; she would do anything to be able to get up and bang her head against the wall.
"El… Elizabeth?" John managed to utter after the first moment of shock and surprise was gone.
"Yeah, it's me. Look, I know what it looks like, and it was not my idea to look like a hooker waiting for you in your bed, far from it," she said, gesturing to her with one hand while the other was busy holding the sheet to her chest. As she saw his left hand going towards his earpiece, she held out her free hand. "Wait! I know you probably want security in here as soon as possible, but haven't you noticed that I'm not wearing anything under this sheet? So, before you call them, can I just borrow some of your clothes and get dressed?" she asked, hopeful that he would not ask anymore question while she was in this current state of undress.
"Don't you have anything to wear?" he finally asked.
"You know… Ancients sort of don't think about clothes when they help someone descend. Daniel could probably confirm that."
"That's what you've done. Descend, I mean."
"Yeah… Look, John. Not that I want to be rude or don't want to explain everything to you and the others, but if you really don't mind, I'd rather do it fully clothed than…"
"Yeah, yeah, I got that." He walked to his chest of drawers, and pulled a t-shirt and pants out of one of the drawers. "These should do. I'll wait in the bathroom, just call when you're done. The door is locked, so don't think about leaving without me."
"I won't," she tried to reassure while at the same time knowing that until she proved herself to him and the others, he wouldn't believe her so easily. And she understood it.
He handed her the clothes without looking at her, and she smiled as he all but ran to the bathroom; it seemed like her lack of clothes was unsettling him.
She quickly put on the pants and t-shirt, recognizing the same familiar scent on them as on the pillow and sheet. She was feeling uncomfortable; she had never been one to be wearing no underwear at all, but it wasn't like she had any choice in the matter, while John had clothes, he had no female underwear, and to be honest, she was quite glad he didn't. Though, she guessed that there might be a solution.
"John?" she called out, "can I borrow one of your boxers?" She heard something fall on the bathroom floor, and immediately frowned in concern. "You ok in there?"
"Yeah… And yeah, you can. Top drawer. Take one that's still in the plastic, I've never worn those."
She opened the said drawer, and indeed found some clearly never used boxers.
"You can come back," she called. "I assume that you've called security while you were in there," she just said as he came out.
"That's what I would have done too," she replied with a smirk. "You taught me well."
"Is it really you?" he asked, wanting, needing to know.
"Yes. But I guess you won't believe me until you have some proof, so…"
Silence fell around them, an uncomfortable silence, not like those they were used to before. Before everything happened. They were both standing in the middle of the room, a few feet away from each other. She saw him looking at her, trying to find something, anything, that would tell him that she was saying the truth, that it was really her.
They were interrupted in their thoughts by Lorne's voice coming from the other side of the door. Without taking his eyes away from hers, John unlocked the door for his men. They entered the room, weapons at the ready, and stopped as they saw her.
"Sir?" Lorne asked.
"I don't know, Major. She pretends she's the one we know, but we can never be sure. Escort her to the infirmary, I'll contact Keller to let her know you're coming. Don't hesitate to stun her if she tries anything," he added, though Elizabeth could see that he didn't really like that idea.
"Shall we go?" she offered, and Lorne nodded, gesturing for his team to take position on either side of her while he took point.
She said nothing during the whole walk towards the infirmary. She saw the confused looks of the people they passed by, knew that they were wondering what was happening. She knew that the news would soon be known to everyone on Atlantis if the grapevine was still anything like when she had last been there. She could also feel the unasked questions of the team escorting her, the thoughts that were running in their heads. But she could do nothing about it; they would only take Jennifer's word that it was really her.
They entered the infirmary and were immediately spotted by Jennifer. She briefly talked with Lorne as she directed them to the scans. They would soon know that she was saying the truth.
An hour later, Elizabeth found herself in the briefing room, under the surprised and scrutinizing gazes of John, Rodney, Ronon, a very pregnant Teyla and Sam, as Jennifer explained them what she had found.
"There's no doubt. The scans, the EEG, everything's saying that the Elizabeth Weir here is the one we lost last year…," she concluded, and all eyes fell at once on Elizabeth.
"I guess it's my turn to talk and explain some things. I know that another group of Asurans, one that looked like your team and myself told you that I was dead. And they didn't lie to you. To anyone, I was dead." She paused, letting them take in what she had already said; admitting that she had indeed been dead to them wasn't easy, but that was the easiest part. "After my capture, Oberoth tried to break me, constantly creating one world after another in my head, and after some time, I managed to convince him that he did it, that I was fully his. That was the only way for me to finally be able to walk around the base, and maybe find some way to escape. There was a group of Asurans who didn't like Oberoth and what he was doing. After a few weeks, they heard that he ordered the destruction of a group of Asurans, the one who recreated Atlantis and the members of the expedition from my memories. They came to me and it looked like they, unlike Oberoth and his followers, never believed that he managed to make a fellow Asuran out of me. We planned to take over the City from Oberoth and his group and to contact you. But we were stopped before we could do anything. Just a few days before your attack, me and two others were discovered and killed…"
"Wait!" McKay interrupted her. "If you're dead like you say, how can you be here? And how do you know about the attack?"
"Just mere seconds before I died, Janus came to see me."
"Janus? The one who helped the other Elizabeth?"
"Yes, John. He told me that he could help me ascend if I wanted to. At first, when I understood that I was going to die, I thought that I was ready, that I should have been dead for weeks already. But when Janus made that offer… I didn't know anymore. And then, I realised that were I to ascend, though I couldn't intervene, I could still be around somewhere. I was resolved to die if there was no other way for me to go, but I didn't want to die. So, I've chosen to ascend, and since then, I'm never too far away from Atlantis. I've always stayed at a safe distance, though."
"Because of the others?" Sam asked.
"Not only. It was also because I just couldn't let myself come and see all of you, knowing that you couldn't see me. Janus stayed with me most of the time, and this morning, he asked me if I wanted to come back. The decision wasn't that easy to make, and after having talk with him, I decided that yes, I wanted to. So he helped me descend, but I swear John, I didn't know I was going to land in your quarters. Though, I'd rather descend there than in the middle of the gateroom," she added with a smile.
"Daniel once descended in General O'Neill's office," Sam said, sympathizing with the former leader of the City. "The General had to hand him one of the flags. I think I was as ill-at-ease as Daniel."
"What? Why?" Rodney asked, not understanding the innuendo.
"Let's just say that Ancients don't really bother with clothes, Rodney," Elizabeth explained.
"Oh my god, Sheppard! You've seen her naked!" McKay all but shouted, as Ronon gave John a pat on the back.
"I haven't seen her naked, she had a sheet covering her," John tried, but the scientist was definitely not listening to him.
"And she borrowed some of your clothes, no wonder they're too big for her," he continued, turning towards Elizabeth. His eyes widened as he realised something else. "You're not wearing a bra!"
"Geez, McKay! Why don't you shout just a bit louder, I don't think they heard you back on Earth!"
"Gentlemen," Elizabeth finally said, sending them both a glare. "You realise that you're talking about me whilst I'm still in the room, right?"
"Sorry," both men had the grace to at least look sheepish.
"I've missed that, though," John let out.
"Your death glare," he replied with a smirk, but it quickly fell under the said glare. "Now, I remember I liked it more when it isn't directed at me."
"Well, if nobody has any questions, I think we'll stop here," Sam concluded, and John sent her a thankful look.
"Actually, I had something to add." When all eyes settled back on her, Elizabeth continued. "There's another me out there. A Replicator actually. When I died, the group I was with created a replica of me to lead them. The thing is, I don't know how, but this group has survived the attack."
"This is impossible," Rodney exclaimed. "There was nothing left."
"I assure you, Rodney, that this group survived. They're out there somewhere. I don't know why they haven't followed the plan and contacted you, though. Janus didn't want me to follow them, just in case the others wouldn't like it, but I can only guess, that maybe, they're trying to establish a new City before doing so."
"We'll have to keep an eye out for them, and we will," John stated, reassuring Elizabeth with a smile.
"If we're really done this time, I'm going to contact Earth and let them known that you're back. I think that by now everyone on Atlantis knows that you're here, but I'm still going to do an official announcement. And we're going to find you some clothes," she finished with a smile.
"John will find you some quarters. I'll come see you once I'm done with Earth to tell you what is going to happen."
Sam left the room, followed by Jennifer, leaving Elizabeth with John and his team. Teyla immediately went to her and touched their foreheads together, before taking her in her arms.
"I'm glad to see you again, Elizabeth."
"Me too, Teyla. So… What did I miss? I mean, besides your pregnancy and the fact that you had a boyfriend and never told me, that is."
"The father is Kanan," Teyla answered with a smile, before sobering up. "I wish you could meet him, but he's missing along with the rest of my people."
"What? What happened?"
"It's not that I don't want you to know," Rodney interrupted what Teyla wanted to say next, "but I'm quite hungry, and I'm sure that the big man is too," he said, gesturing to Ronon. "So why don't we continue this in the mess hall?"
"I wouldn't mind eating something either," Elizabeth admitted. "Actually, it'd be good to finally be eating again." At their look, she continued. "You know, I was dead, well ascended, and we don't really need to eat so…"
"I think I'm going to be sick just to think about that."
"What, you're going to faint again?"
"I did not faint," Rodney protested to John's choice of words. "I passed out from manly hunger."
"Yeah, right…," John rolled his eyes at him, before turning towards Elizabeth. "Did you really miss him?" he asked, and she shrugged in response. "Ok, let's go eat something. And then, I'll show you to your quarters, though you shouldn't have any problem locating them, since they'll be your old ones."
They shared a smile, before leaving the briefing room, followed by Teyla, Ronon and a still protesting McKay. It was going to be a long lunch.
A few days later, Elizabeth was on the balcony outside the control room, watching the sunrise. It wasn't the first time she saw it, far from it, but it was actually the first time since she was back on Atlantis. She had no problem falling back into Atlantis routine, though she wasn't the leader anymore. People were happy to see her back, and let her know. She was touched to see that they had missed her, as much as she had missed them, and missed being there.
As she watched the sunrise, she realised that it well might be her last day in the City. Some time in the afternoon, she would leave for Earth for a required meeting with the IOA, and she didn't know whether they would allow her back, and in what capacity. She would also take that time on Earth to go see her mother; she had been notified by Jack himself that her daughter was alive, and if Elizabeth didn't go see her, she would probably get an earful next time she was on Earth, along with a hug. And she would probably have to sign a lot of paperwork to bring her back from the dead, but she hoped that she could get some help from Daniel who had already gone through that twice.
She was jolted out of her thoughts by the door opening behind her. She didn't turn around, just listened to the footsteps joining her by the railing. She knew well who that was. Without saying anything, he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, and she leaned against his chest, trusting him to support her.
Nothing had happened between them, yet, but they both knew that it was just a matter of time…