Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis, the characters, places, things, and ideas therein, and do not claim such ownership. I am writing this for entertainment, not profit.
Summary: He couldn't settle enough to sleep, even though as a soldier he'd long mastered the knack of snatching sleep whenever and wherever he could. JohnElizabeth
Spoilers: fyd818's stories Journey to Forever and Shattered
Pairing: John/Elizabeth, slight blink-and-you'll-miss-it Ronon/Teyla
Title: Farewell Tour
Author: Mama Jo
Author's Note: This is, sadly to say, the end for now of the little series of one (or four, in one case) shots I've been writing in my daughter fyd818's Journey to Forever universe. But I promise that this will not be my last fic ever! Thank you to everyone who has, thus far, read, reviewed, favorited, alerted, etc., my stories and me as an author. I appreciate you all so very much. Thanks, and much love to all of you -- may any tears in your eyes always be put there by laughter! Mama Jo
"'Lizabeth!" John Sheppard stepped out onto the balcony outside the control room. His eyes instantly sought for, and found, the figure of his wife leaning against the railing. "'Lizabeth, it's almost time for the latest batch of newbies to arrive. Are you ready?"
Elizabeth straightened and turned. With a little smile curving her lips, she crossed the intervening space to take his arm. "Already? I'm sorry, I lost track of the time." As he drew her with him, she glanced back over her shoulder and added softly, "I just never get tired of that view."
"I know." They strolled through the control room, past the techs intent on their jobs, and halted on the little balcony overlooking the Gateroom. Below, the symbols on the Stargate flashed into brightness, chasing each other around the rim. Behind them a voice called out, "Incoming wormhole!" just as the massive, brilliant vortex kawhooshed outward and then settled into its rippling pool of light. John drew a deep breath, released it with a deep inward sense of joy. "That never gets old, either."
She nodded agreement. "I'm so glad Earth has a ZPM now," she said as the first figures began arriving through the open 'Gate. "This sure brings back memories." She breathed a laugh. "The lights coming on, more and more as you climbed the stairs— And me wondering who was doing that when I knew perfectly well you had the ATA gene! I still feel stupid over not making the connection sooner."
"You were a little overwhelmed. We all were." He squeezed her hand. "And later, you stood right here looking down, while I stood right about there," John pointed down, "looking up at you, knowing you were feeling the same things I was." He fell silent for a moment as the new arrivals continued to break through the surface of the event horizon to gaze about them with looks of awe and amazement. He found himself focusing on one young man in Air Force blue, captain's bars gleaming on his shoulders, in particular. "You want to tag along on the orientation tour?"
Elizabeth cocked her head slightly to one side, in that familiar, beloved mannerism as she considered it. Suddenly her eyes and mouth rounded in alarm, her whole body going stiff. "Oh! Oh my! Rodney hates orientation tours, he always gets so very cranky over being disturbed. Maybe we had better—"
John put an arm around her shoulders. "Relax, 'Lizabeth. I've got Teyla and Ronon on it. If she can't sweet-talk him into behaving himself," he grinned broadly, "then the big guy will just have to get physical with him."
She relaxed against him. "That's all right, then. If you don't mind sitting this one out, my darling John, it's almost sunset. . ." Her beautiful jade green eyes met his in a look half apologetic, half entreating.
He couldn't resist bending to brush her lips with a tender kiss. "And they'll wind up out there anyway. Okay, love, let's get back to our balcony."
He couldn't settle enough to sleep, even though as a soldier he'd long mastered the knack of snatching sleep whenever and wherever he could. Of course, it had been a big day: one of the biggest in his entire young life. The excitement still fizzed along his nerves, almost as much as when he was flying, testing the limits of himself and his aircraft. . .
Taking a characteristically sudden decision, he turned away from the tall window in his quarters and strode for the door. If he couldn't sleep, he might as well use the time to fulfill a dream – one he'd had since childhood. Swiping his hand over the control, he paused the instant it took the panels to slide open, and passed through into the night-dimmed hall.
The orientation tour had been well-conducted and thorough, but entirely too crowded for any sense of familiarity to break through. In fact, he'd come away from it mildly dissatisfied, if not downright disappointed. He'd expected some – some sense of where he'd come to echo through him at some basic level, to experience some profound connection with his surroundings. And he wasn't prepared to give those expectations up as unrealistic: not yet, not by a long shot. That was what was keeping his nerves at full, keyed-up stretch.
Maybe, a mocking whisper went through the back of his mind, maybe he just needed to grow up; to let go of all the stories, the fantastic images that fed his boyish imagination.
He shoved the thoughts aside. Those stories had always inspired him, had led him here. He had to give it another try.
And he knew where he had to go.
Only a skeleton staff manned the control room at this time of night. He wanted to take the steps up from the Gateroom two at a time, but held himself to a deliberate pace, so he could savor it this time. Crossing the control room, he collected a few curious glances. Only when he approached the doors leading out onto the balcony, though, did one tech turn toward him, hand half lifted as if to prevent him. Then, after a glance at his nametag, the tech dropped his hand and returned his attention to his monitor.
He paused just past the threshold, the doors hushing closed behind him, letting his eyes adjust to the night. A muted, multi-colored glow filtered from the control room through the stained glass but didn't extend very far; a silver paleness on the horizon hinted at the approaching moonrise. Except for the whispering of the sea far below, it was very quiet.
Slowly, as if responding to some subtle pull, he crossed to the railing. For a long time he just stood, hands in pockets: gazing out at the incredible vista, hearing again in memory the stories that had shaped his life. Here, standing alone in the night on this spot, he waited – whether for an affirmation of homecoming, or a confirmation of long cherished dreams, he couldn't have precisely said.
He stood there, leaning on the railing, until the moon had lifted completely above the line separating sea and sky. Gradually, a sense of calm crept over him. Maybe all he'd needed was this chance for a private homage to his past.
Straightening, he turned to leave the balcony; halted and pivoted sharply to the right as a half-glimpsed motion from the corner of his eye pulled his attention in that direction. Senses on full alert, he took a couple of steps toward a shadowed corner. His breath suddenly caught somewhere between his throat and his chest. A feeling of wonder filled his heart, spilling outward to fill his whole body.
A petite, dark haired woman stood watching him, her arms folded over her diaphragm, an assessing look on her face. As his eyes met hers, the gravity faded from her expression; she smiled at him with gentle warmth. At that moment, he became aware of someone else just behind her: A man who, despite the apparent casualness of his pose, exuded a sense of command. Without pausing to analyze his reaction, he came to attention, right hand snapping up in a crisp salute. Eyes narrowing slightly, the man held his gaze for a moment that probably only felt longer than it was because of its intensity; then, lips twitching as if holding back a smile, he returned salute. The couple glanced at each other, then looked back to him. . .
. . .And faded slowly into the shadows of the corner.
He didn't know whether to whoop in exultation or tiptoe away in reverence. Feeling equally vindicated and exhilarated, Captain John Weir Sheppard III went back into the city to take up his family's legacy of service to Atlantis.