Elizabeth Weir leant against the simple but effective railing , resting on the cool metal with her forearms and contemplating the events of the day. She had met her older self, very much deteriorated in health due to her very advanced age, but herself just the same.

She'd asked John to give her a few minutes before the briefing, knowing that she'd need a few more than that to come to peace with herself. And so she'd snatched a few scant minutes while she could, got through the meeting, then retreated to the balcony again as dusk started to fall. The city was basked in a golden shroud as the sun began its descent, mixing with the pinks and purples of the clouds before surrendering to the incoming night. The breeze had begun to cool, rising gooseflesh on her arms and distracting her from her thoughts for a few moments. She could have returned to her office to retrieve her jacket, but it felt as though she were abandoning the reverie she had found on the balcony.

The door hissed open and she knew who it was even before he set foot on the outdoor area. John Sheppard had seemingly appointed himself her protector and confidant since coming to Atlantis, and was never far from her view when she was troubled. He sensed her turmoil as soon as he stepped onto the tiled balcony, wordlessly coming to her side and comforting her by his presence alone. He would stay that way for as long as it would take, waiting for her to speak if she wanted, or simply basking in her silence if she chose it that way.
Elizabeth sucked in a breath, her eyes focused on the nothingness of the black ocean in night, acutely aware of John's presence.

" It's weird you know, seeing yourself, your older self. It's like she was her own person, yet she was me. She had all my memories, all my feelings, yet so many years had tempered that into the woman we met, barely able to keep her eyes open without medication." Elizabeth said softly, her hands still holding the wooden jar that Sheppard had presented her with earlier. He remained silent next to her, waiting for her to work her own way through her feelings by expressing them in words.

" She spoke like me, her inflections were the same, hell she even had my warped sense of humour. But I can't imagine myself ending up like her. So… frail…so…." She trailed off, knowing that confronting one's own morality was never easy. Strangely enough through few had watching an alternate version of themselves die.

" She was you, but she wasn't" John tried to explain, putting his own unique twist on the situation. " An alternate you perhaps, cos you.. are you"

" But I'm sure she thought she was me as well " Elizabeth replied sadly, her eyes catching on the lights of the eastern pier. They almost sparkled in the distance, glittering golden through the blackness of night, or perhaps it was the first moisture of emotion that dared to fill her eyes. They drifted into a companionable silence again, each focusing on whatever took their eyes attention.

" There's only one you… " John stated quietly, stepping closer to her and turning her to face him square on. " Don't beat yourself up over this, what happened isn't your fault"

" I know, but still, she was so desperate to tell her story, I feel as though I should have listened more… or done more to help her.. or something" She finished lamely, her head dropping to her chest in a rare moment of weakness.

John took her chin in his hand, grazing his thumb over the smooth skin before guiding her to meet his eyes again.

" She had so much to tell, and so little time. And all the while she had that note with the ZPM's that she was so desperate to explain" Elizabeth continued, the tears glistening in her eyes threatening to fall.

" I think she was grateful to tell her story at all" John soothed, pulling her close and wiping the last remnants of tears from her face.

" Thanks John, I appreciate this" Elizabeth said sadly, gazing at him with an intensity that shocked him

" Anytime, you know that" John replied softly, embracing her in a hug and reveling in the feel of her body against his.

" I better go before someone catches us" Elizabeth pulled away again, once again becoming the consummate leader that Atlantis adored and respected.

" Just remember, whenever you need an ear.. or a shoulder.. you know where to find me" John reminded her, squeezing her hand to emphasize his point.

" What.. in the infirmary?" She quipped, a small giggle rumbling through her.

" Hey.. that's not fair!" John retorted, dropping her hand and making a show of crossing his arms over his chest defensively.

" Not fair maybe.. but true. Anyway… I appreciate you coming here… really" She gazed at the space between them, unable to meet his eyes as she leaned in a gave him a peck on the cheek before disappearing back into the gallery. John turned and watched her leave, wondering what God's had deemed his worthy of such wonderful gifts such as the one just bestowed upon him. Maybe this whole Atlantis gig wasn't so bad after all.