Title: Brave New Hope
Category: romance, angst, AU
Summary: "Everything seems new / Have to get to know my friends again"
Season/Sequel: season 4, sequel to Vous revoir
Spoilers: First Strike and my fic Vous Revoir
Archives: my website, others ask please, I never refuse
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: This is the long awaited sequel to my fic Vous Revoir. It picks up right where I left it off. The title and the summary are taken from the song Brave New Hope by Basia. Many thanks to my beta, Jaclyn.
The gate closed but John didn't notice it. His eyes were trained on the last person to have walked into the gateroom. Their eyes were locked onto his too, trying to decipher what was in there. They soon smiled, and his own lips couldn't help but return it.
Elizabeth stood in front of the gate and could finally let herself believe that she was going home. To Atlantis. When Richard Woolsey called her, she had first been afraid that something had happened, but as she listened to him, she reasoned that he wouldn't be contacting her if that was the case. She listened closely to what he had to tell her, and even though he gave her a week to think about it, she had an answer for him before he could say another word.
Telling her mother about leaving again wasn't easy, but she had understood that it was what she needed to do. Talking to her brother about it had been even harder since she had to do it over the phone; he had been pretty worried about her health, right up until she said that she was going back to the place she was before, and assured him that John and the others would take care of her. She had hung up on him as he started talking about John, and other things that she certainly wasn't ready to talk about with her brother.
In under a week, she had packed the things she would need on Atlantis, and left for Colorado. Leaving her mother after so many months spent under the same roof had been as tearful as the time she left for college. But just like the other time, she had to do this.
And now, after the medical exam she had to take and pass to be able to go back to Atlantis, she was finally standing there, just a few minutes away from reuniting with her friends. Besides the people in the control room, no one understood what being there meant to her. No one knew that she had already been on Atlantis. No one knew that she had been the one leading the City just a little less than two years ago. It wasn't like she was keeping it a secret from others, it was just that she hadn't been asked, and she didn't volunteer the information.
After what felt like an eternity to her, the gate finally spun to life, chevrons locking one by one with Walter's voice in the background, until it connected with its destination. They weren't using the Midway station this time; there had been some malfunctioning with its gate and repairs were under way. Instead, the SGC was using the ZPM from the outpost to send them to Pegasus.
People walked past her, going through the gate, some of them for the first time. It reminded her of that day the expedition left for Atlantis, full of hope, and neither of them expecting what was awaiting them on the other side. She still remembered that day clearly; it was the day it had all begun. And today was another beginning, a new beginning.
"Doctor Weir?" General Landry's voice came from the control room.
Turning towards him, she noticed that she was the only one left here; they had all gone through the gate already.
"You've changed your mind?" he asked as he saw he had her attention.
"No," she quickly answered. "Sorry, I was just thinking."
"Then, stop thinking for the moment, and walk up that ramp! They're all waiting for you," he concluded, though she knew it wasn't true; nobody, not even her friends knew she was coming back.
"Yes, sir! Thank you," she added before turning and walking towards the gate.
She stopped for a second, took a deep breath and stepped through. She was going home.
As she set foot on Atlantis, her eyes immediately sought people she knew. But she stopped as soon as she saw him. He had noticed her too and was now looking at her. Keeping her eyes onto his, she smiled and watched as he returned it. Though she couldn't hear it, she could see his lips forming her name.
Before she could do anything else, he was already jogging down the stairs, to meet her. She couldn't move, couldn't walk towards him. All she could do was watch him as he passed by the new recruits, all of them probably wondering what was happening. Soon enough, he was enveloping her in a tight hug that she returned just as tight.
"You're here, you're back," she heard him whisper against her ear.
"I'm home," she returned on the same tone, tears welling up in her eyes. "I'm home."
She willed the tears away; now was not the place, nor the time to let herself go, it would wait until she was in the privacy of her new quarters. Opening her eyes, she noticed everyone was looking at them, including the general. She slowly pulled away from John, inviting him with a look to turn around.
"Colonel? Care to explain?" the general's voice resounded in the room from where he stood at the top of the stairs.
"Sorry, sir. Let me introduce you to Doctor Elizabeth Weir. She was the first one to lead the expedition, we're here thanks to her," he said, then turned to her. "Elizabeth, this is General Watters."
"I'm sorry, Doctor, I didn't know we were going to have famous people," Watters replied, and Elizabeth could hear the sarcasm in his voice. "The SGC hadn't sent us the list of the new recruits beforehand."
"We just got it, Sir," Chuck said walking towards him with a sheet of paper. "It's good to see you, Doctor," he nodded to her.
"You too, Chuck."
"Well, now that introductions are made, I think you were all attributed quarters back at the SGC, so I suggest you all go there and unpack. Tomorrow will be your first day of work, don't waste time."
Elizabeth and John watched Watters retreat in his office; what once used to be her office. While he was used by now to someone else being in her office, it was the first time for her. It was strange to know that she was back on Atlantis, but that she wouldn't spend hours on end there. She thought she had accepted that, but she found that she hadn't, not really.
"Come on. Show me where your stuff is, and then we're going to your quarters."
After they had found her bags in one of the crates, Elizabeth led them towards where her quarters were. They were stopped on their way by people wanting to welcome her back, old members of the expedition happy to see her standing on her own two feet after the incident. Elizabeth was touched by the attention she got.
Soon, she stopped in front of a door, and John smiled at her.
"I should have known…"
"Well, General Landry told me that I could have my old rooms back if I wanted to," she replied, opening the door.
It was even stranger to be back there than it had been to be back on Atlantis. The quarters were completely empty, and she wasn't used to it. She hadn't been the one packing her things; Teyla and Kate had done it while she had still been in the infirmary.
"No one had come to these quarters since you left. No one already here wanted them, and we've actually asked the SGC to not give those quarters to someone else." He paused at the looked she was giving him. "Ok, I've asked and General Landry agreed."
"I know. He told me."
She placed the bag she was carrying on the bed, as John dropped the rest of her bags on the floor. Looking around the room one more time, she walked towards the window, wanting to see the City she had missed. She watched the ocean surrounding it, the towers pointing towards the sky, could imagine people working in the labs, in the different rooms of Atlantis, just like she often saw them do.
John took some time to observe her; she had somehow changed since the last time he had seen her, back at her mother's. Of course, the main change was that the crutches were now gone, and she wasn't even walking with a limp. But what he noticed first and foremost was that she wasn't hiding anymore. Not that she had been able to really hide from him, but he could see that her walls were down, that she was back to the Elizabeth he had learnt to know. The rather depressed Elizabeth who wouldn't show how she really was to anyone but him was gone. The diplomat, strong-minded Elizabeth was back for good, and he guessed that it had something to do with her coming back.
Seized by a need to be sure that she was there, he walked to her, and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. She leaned her back against his chest, as she rested her hands on his. Thoughts left her mind; for the moment she just wanted to feel, not thinking about this or that, it could wait. She was in John's arms, looking at Atlantis, something she had long thought was impossible. But yet, here she was. She shouldn't have forgotten that life was full of surprises.
"I should unpack," she sighed. "And probably go say hi to the rest of your team, and Radek, Lorne…," she trailed off, knowing that if she started naming them all, it would take time.
"You want to leave me for other men?" John asked, making her turn towards him.
"Don't forget Teyla. I know she can kick your ass, but she's a woman, you know."
"I know, believe me, I know," he replied with a sigh, and she gave him a look, before continuing.
"Good. Now, would you help…?"
Before she could even finish her question, his lips had descended on hers. She was surprised at first, but soon her mouth began to move against his. She wanted this, had waited for this, but still when they broke the kiss, she couldn't prevent her mind from taking control back.
"I… We can't do this," she whispered, her lips just inches apart from his. "We can't."
"Elizabeth…," John tried to kiss her again but she took a step back.
She wanted to talk to him, wanted to explain to him why she had reacted this way, but before she could utter another word, he had left her quarters. She sat heavily on the bed, her hand coming to rest on her lips. She couldn't do this, she wanted to, but she just couldn't. She didn't want to lose his friendship; they had grown closer since his last visit on Earth and she didn't want to lose that. He would have to understand the reason why she had rejected him, and she hoped that it wouldn't change things between them.
With a sigh, she got up from the bed. It was time to unpack, to claim back those quarters as her own. But as soon as she opened one of the bags, she saw the jar he had given her as a birthday present. The jar in which she had put her other self's ashes before spreading them over the City. She smiled fondly at the memory of his smile when he had given it to her, the exact same question nagging her mind for which she still didn't have an answer. She still didn't know how he had found out about her birthday.
Letting the memories of those first few months flooding her mind, she turned back to unpacking.
An hour later, she was finally done. Taking a look around, she was pleased to say that her quarters felt homey. She couldn't deny that this feeling partly came because she had missed the place, but still, she somehow felt more at home there than in her childhood bedroom at her mom's. Looking at her watch, she noticed that there were still a few hours before dinner, and decided to go take a walk and say hi to old friends. Starting with Rodney; the chief scientist should know by now that she was back, and she was surprised that he hadn't come to see her yet. She was even a little hurt by that. She had thought that he had missed her and that she was more important than any experiment he was working on at the moment.
She knew that he couldn't be off-world since John was there, and coming to think about it, she wondered why Teyla hadn't come either. No one had come actually. No one had bothered to come and say hi, probably expecting to catch her later. Well, she would be the one to go to them, then. In a way, she was the one who had come back; maybe they were expecting her to.
Leaving her quarters, she decided that she would first go to the mess for a cup of Athosian tea. Like she had missed the people here, she had also missed the beverage. It had a way to soothe her that she hadn't found in any other tea that she could buy on Earth. Having a cup of it would feel like stepping foot on Atlantis again, seeing her people; it would mean that she was really home.
But as she opened the mess doors, she knew she wouldn't be able to drink it anytime soon.
Her eyes watered up as she saw her friends, the people she had led for nearly three years standing there, smiling at her. Though they hadn't yelled 'surprise' when she pushed the doors open, and really that would have embarrassed her more than anything, she knew they were all waiting for her.
"Welcome back, Elizabeth," Teyla said, walking towards her. They touched foreheads before Teyla moved to hug her. "It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you too, Teyla. "
Elizabeth smiled at her friend before turning to look towards the others. One by one, Rodney, Lorne, Zelenka, Kate, even Ronon, they all came to talk to her, hug her, making her understand that she was missed. John stood aside, watching the scene unfold before his eyes. It was a moment they had all thought about since she had been forced to leave, and while some had lost hope, John and some others had kept faith that one day she would be back.
Finally, when it was over, and people had left to go back to work, leaving only his team and Elizabeth, he walked towards her.
"I believe you won't be done with all this for a while, yet. Most people were on duty and couldn't come now, but we figured that you would like that anyway."
"I do. But how did you know I was coming here?"
"Well, we sort of knew that you wouldn't resist Athosian tea for much longer."
"Speaking of that, there's a cup with your name on it waiting for you," Rodney said, gesturing for Elizabeth to follow them to the table.
She was about to follow when John's hand on her arm stopped her. She turned towards him, a questioning look on her face. He looked down for a second before facing her again.
"Look, Elizabeth, about what happened earlier…"
"Let me talk, please." He paused, licking his lips; he was nervous. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. I… I want this, but if you're not ready, I understand. I'll wait till you are. Because, believe me or not, you're damn worth the wait, Elizabeth Weir."
She blushed slightly at his words, her eyes locked with his. With just a few words, he had told her everything she needed to hear, and what she felt. He was right, she wasn't ready for this. With time, she might be, but right now, she just needed to settle back in Atlantis, to find her marks again. And despite what he told her, she couldn't help the nagging feeling that she would be just another woman in John Sheppard's life. That, if something were to happen between them, it wouldn't last. But she couldn't voice this feeling, not even to him; she couldn't let him know that to her it would be different. Of course, she could still take whatever he was willing to give her, for how long he was willing to, but she wasn't sure that she could let go after. So she would wait, make him wait, and maybe one day she would be ready for this, or maybe he would get tired of waiting and she wouldn't be worried about being hurt. Whatever came first, she guessed.
But for the moment, she decided to enjoy being back in Atlantis, with her friends.
"So, Elizabeth, you haven't told us what you will be doing?" Rodney asked around a mouthful of cake as she and John joined them.
"I'm sorry, I've completely forgotten to ask too," John said. "I was so surprised to see you there…"
"It's okay, I understand. Richard Woolsey called me one day because the IOA wants to have a negotiating team in Atlantis. Just like what they have at the SGC. And he asked me to lead it, if of course I passed the medical exam."
"Why do they want a negotiating team? We already do this!"
"Yes, Rodney, I know. And this is what I've asked Woolsey as well, and he told me that it was time to change that. There seems to have been quite a few problems in the past few months…," she trailed off, knowing that they were aware of this.
"Yeah," John replied. "Sometimes, people don't really understand the meaning of 'negotiation'. I never thought I would say this, but I'm happy with the IOA's decision if it means having you back."
"As I am," Teyla assured her too. "And I think it was needed. We don't want to lose friends and allies over difficult negotiations, as we almost did last month."
"Tell me more about it. Woolsey has mentioned it to me but without telling me exactly what happened."
"We don't know a lot about it," John started, "but it seems like Lieutenant Fitzgerald had some difficulties making himself understood. I think there was also a problem with the natives, something about the daughter of the chief…"
"And you weren't involved in this?" Elizabeth teased him, though beneath the tease, John could see some worry.
"No, I wasn't, but thanks for thinking I was. You know, I'm not the only trouble magnet in Atlantis."
"Could have fooled us," Ronon muttered loud enough for everyone at the table to hear.
"Ha ha. Anyway, Elizabeth, you should probably read the report."
"I will. Now, let's talk about you, guys. What have you been up to since I've left?"
"Well, you know," John started, "missions, missions and more missions, nothing really exciting besides the times where we met the Wraith."
"You know, Sheppard, I don't think she was asking about that," Rodney said. "Anyway, on my part, I'm still working on a program to shut down the Asurans. Strangely, we haven't encountered them since the time they attacked the City…" He paused; they all remembered that one time, that time where Elizabeth nearly died. Looking at Elizabeth, he felt bad for having mentioned it. "I'm sorry, I…"
"It's ok, Rodney. I'm back, and that's what matters the most. So you were saying?"
"Yeah, I'm still working on the program, because people keep disturbing me with other problems. As if I don't already have enough to do."
"I'm sure you'll finish it one day, Rodney. But, there was really no sign of the Asurans since that time?"
"No," John answered. "Sam had been worried about it, but General Watters doesn't seem to care. He thinks that they're not interested in the City anymore."
"What do you think?" she asked, knowing that he didn't share his commanding officer's opinion.
"That they're waiting for the best moment to attack us. They're plotting something, and whatever it is, we won't be prepared for this because Watters…" He stopped, shaking his head.
"And what about the rest of Pegasus? No one has seen them?"
"Either that, or they haven't told anyone they were Asurans… Anyway, let's talk about something else. You just came back, and we don't want you to get worried about it just now."
"Yeah… So what about you, Teyla?"
"Well, there's not a lot to say… Halling is now the leader of my people, as they thought that I wasn't concerned by their problems anymore. I didn't argue with them, it's true that I spend more time here in Atlantis, than with them. I understand their reaction, but…"
"But you're hurt," Elizabeth finished for her when she failed to find the words.
"Yes. I guess that's what you feel too." After the other woman nodded, she continued. "It's strange how we met as leaders of our people, and now we're not anymore."
"And how are they?"
"They're all fine. Those you've known as children aren't really children anymore. Jinto looks more and more like his late mother, though he's as strong as his father. Some babies were born when you weren't there, and we've lost two of our elders."
"I'm sorry, Teyla…"
"Don't be. They've died of old age. Next time I go to see them, you should come with me. They will be happy to see you as they often ask me about you."
"If I can, I'll come." She would be glad to see them too; the Athosians had been their first friends in this galaxy, and they had shared a lot in the past years. She turned towards the last member of the team, waiting for him to talk. She wouldn't be surprised if he would just shrug and say nothing, but she hoped that he wouldn't.
"Nothing much to say. I'm training those who want to, showing them how to kill a Wraith in a hand-to-hand combat. I could train you too, if you want," he offered.
"Well… No offense, I'd rather have Teyla teach me how to defend myself than you."
"You've never showed an interest in learning that, before," John said, surprised.
"It's because I usually went off-world with a posse, like you used to say. From now on, I'll only have my team, and another one maybe." As she noticed he was ready to protest, she continued. "I'm not the leader of Atlantis anymore, John, I can't be overprotected."
"You weren't overprotected. Like you said, you were the leader, and I needed to make sure that you were in security while off-world."
"Don't you think I know about what you said to Lorne whenever it was his team who accompanied me off-world?"
"How…?" he started, before he realised. "Lorne definitely has a big mouth. I may have to do something about it one day."
"You will not, John. Just like you won't say anything if my team was to go off-world alone."
"Fine," he conceded, knowing that this time, he wouldn't win. He paused for a moment, before a smile took place on his face. "And you didn't ask me what happened to me during those months?"
"It's because you've told me everything already," she reminded him.
"How? When?" Rodney wanted to know.
"We wrote to each other since he came to see me," Elizabeth explained, before John could stop her.
It wasn't that he was embarrassed by that, but he just knew what Rodney would think of it. But, surprisingly, the scientist didn't say anything; he merely looked at them and smiled. It was as if he was approving it, not that he had any say in it, but still. John smiled back as Elizabeth watched the exchange, knowing without asking what was taking place between the two friends.
"I've missed this. Spending time with you, just talking," she explained at their looks.
"We've missed it too, Elizabeth," Teyla replied. "John must have told you that before, but things are different on Atlantis since you've left. I even thought about going back to my people a few times."
"You've never told us that before," John exclaimed, voicing the surprise of the other two men.
"I didn't want to worry you, but I know that General Watters sees me differently because I'm not of your people. The same goes with Ronon too," she added as the Satedan nodded.
"You've thought of leaving too?" Rodney asked.
"Yes. We've talked about it with Teyla, before deciding that we had to stay."
"You should have told me, I would have spoken to Watters."
"There's no use of you to do that. He has to see for himself that we're no different from your people. Like you, Elizabeth, Colonel Carter, and the others did."
"Still, I agree with John," Elizabeth said, "there must be something we can do."
"I believe that time is the only thing that will help," Teyla replied, wisely.
Silence fell upon the table, each of them pondering Teyla's words. Ultimately, they all knew she was right, but that didn't mean Elizabeth, John and Rodney liked the idea of their friends being seen differently than them.
Elizabeth ate dinner with her friends, joined by Kate, Lorne, and Zelenka. She had asked more questions to them, enquiring about their allies off-world and life on Atlantis since she left. Things had changed, not drastically, but enough for her to need to find her feet again in the City. That, with her new job, would probably take her a few weeks, but she knew that her friends were there to help her, and she was home. That was what mattered.
She left them just after dinner, refusing their invitation to watch a movie in the rec room. She wanted to review her team's files once more before their first day of work tomorrow. She knew they would do good work together, she had chosen them personally, but still she was anxious. She guessed it was a natural feeling, and if she had shared it with her friends, they would have told her so.
As she was sitting on her bed, reading the last file, the door chimed. Standing up to go open it, she wondered who it could be.
"Mike?" she exclaimed, surprised to see him on the other side.
"Hey. I heard you were back," he said, smiling at her.
"Yeah, finally. You want to come in?" she asked, a bit self-conscious about who could see them talking in the hallway.
She stepped away to let him enter her quarters, and watched as he took in them. She realised that he had never been in them, like most of the members of the expeditions, current or past, but it was something different with him. They had had lunch together and he had kissed her, with her being a willing participant. Having him in her quarters, even more than a year later, could mean something to him.
"So, rumour mill has that you have your own team now," he said, interrupting her thought.
"Yeah. A negotiating team." She paused, before voicing one of her thoughts. "This is awkward."
"Look, Elizabeth, I... I know that it's a bit too soon, that you've just come back, but... Do you want to have dinner with me, tomorrow?"
She closed her eyes and lowered her head. Deep inside her, she knew this question would come. She wondered what it was with men and her, today. First John, and now Mike. She had already rejected John, John who said he would wait for her, could she say yes to another man? To Mike? Did she want to say yes? Being asked on a date was flattering but did she really want that with Mike? She knew she couldn't say him no and give him the same reason as last year. He wouldn't accept it, she wasn't the leader of Atlantis anymore. But she didn't want to say yes to him.
"I… I can't," she whispered, hoping he wouldn't ask for an explanation.
"Ok…," he just said, turning towards the door.
"Please, Mike, let me explain. I owe you that, at least. Please," she begged, as he still had his back to her. When she saw him nodding, she released a breath. "I never had the chance to tell you this before, but I liked our lunch. I liked our kiss," she added, a slight blush creeping onto her cheeks. "But it can't happen again. I don't deny that we spent a good moment together, but that was all it was: a moment."
"Why?" he asked, turning back to face her. "And don't tell me that you don't date people you work with, please. You're not my boss anymore, we're on the same level now."
"It's not that," she said, shaking her head. "It's just… I don't have feelings for you, at least no feelings beyond friendship. I know it sounds cliché, but I'd like us to be friends. But we will never be more than that," she stated again, not wanting to lead him into believing it could evolve into something more.
"To be honest with you, last time, I thought that I could try and change your mind. Now, you've told me clearly that I couldn't. I appreciate that. I guess we could try and be friends," he finished, smiling.
"Good," she replied, offering him a smile of her own.
"Well… It's getting quite late, I'll let you rest. It's good to have you back, Elizabeth. I'm glad that you're fine."
She walked him to the door, and rested her head against it after he left.
She hadn't expected to confront him tonight. She hadn't expected to confront him at all, actually. She knew that things wouldn't be easy between them at first, but she hadn't lied to him; she wanted them to be friends. But they needed time, him probably more than her, to figure out how to do this.