Between Time by shipper scifi
Summary: McKay makes a discovery and a new species makes contact with Carter, showing her that Weir may be dead to the human world, but not to Time itself...
Categories: Fanfiction Characters: None
Genres: Alternate Universe, Angst
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 8 Completed: No Word count: 10406 Read: 13162 Published: August 12, 2009 Updated: September 25, 2014
Story Notes:
Alternative Universe set after Weir's death. New chapters added.

1. Chapter 1 by shipper scifi

2. Chapter 2 by shipper scifi

3. Chapter 3 by shipper scifi

4. Chapter 4 by shipper scifi

5. Chapter 5 by shipper scifi

6. Chapter 6 by shipper scifi

7. Chapter 7 by shipper scifi

8. Chapter 8 by shipper scifi

Chapter 1 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Discovery.
'Sam! SAM!'

Rodney's voice was loud, insistent and cut through Carter's headache like a shard of glass. She winced slightly, closing her eyes briefly before looking to watch him barrel into her office. She had meant to tap Carson for something to kill the pain, but the latest reports were in from teams mapping the unexplored levels and sectors of Atlantis.

Reports she had lost herself in, forgetting the headache until Rodney had come running.

'What is it McKay?' she asked, wishing he didn't insist on calling her Sam, as if she wasn't his commanding officer. Of course, knowing Rodney, he probably didn't see it that way. Sam was his equal. Coming from Rodney McKay, she had to admit, that was actually a compliment.

'I don't know if we can communicate with them, or whether they're still around, I mean, they might not even be able to hear us or receive any kind of signal, assuming they didn't turn their attention away from Atlantis when the Ancients left, but well, I mean, it's worth a shot? Right?'

'You've discovered an alien species in the archive that the Ancients used to be contact with,' Sam replied, Rodney's blank stare all the confirmation she needed.

'Yes. Didn't I say that?'

'No, but nevermind,' she cut him off before he could speak again. 'What about these aliens?'

'I think they were Ascended, or close enough, but like the Ori, they're different, they exist in another, well, place since I'm not sure how the Ascended organise themselves up there. I guess I always pictured it as-'

'Rodney?'

'Yeah?'

'Focus?'

'Oh yeah right, anyway the Ancients called them The Seers, or at least that's as close as I can translate, it might be Watchers, it basically conveys the ability to see, but beyond the normal human, or Alterian, ability. The Ancients own ancestors believed them to be a form of guardian angel. From what I've been able to dig out of the database, they're kind of like the ancient god Janus, able to see all of time.' 'All of it?'

'Yes, as closely as I can interpret. Anyway, I think we might be able to make contact.'

'How?'

McKay's enthusiastic flow stopped and he had the grace to look slightly abashed at what he was going to say.

'Well, um, we think at them.'

'What-?' He knew that incredulous look, and aimed to wipe it off Sam's face before she had a chance to veto the project.

'I know, I know! It sounds crazy! But we do it using an Ancient device, it amplifies brainwaves, you have to sort of, tune into their frequency, alert them to your presence. Then they come.' 'Where?' she was instantly cautious, the chances of them knocking at the 'Gate from what Rodney was saying, were minimal.

'They just, um, appear.'

'They just appear?'

'Yeah, is that so strange? The Ascended do it, the Asguard do it,' he answered defensively, 'c'mon Sam, I thought you'd be the one person in the entirety of Atlantis who would be able to see past the linear.'

'I do Rodney,' she replied, raising her eyebrows, 'but I'm also constrained by my responsibilities and by protocol, frankly I'm going to need something a bit more than a two minute tirade before I authorise this experiment. That means a report,' she added pointedly, knowing Rodney avoided unnecessary paperwork whenever he could. Research papers, articles, books, yes, he wrote them all, but experimental and mission reports, laid down in clear terms, he tried to avoid.

The keen look on his face gave way to disappointment. 'Sam...' he began.

'I don't want to hear it Rodney,' came the reply, 'a full report of everything you have so far, on my desk by eighteen hundred hours, I'll read it tonight and I'll come look at what you've got, in the lab, at fourteen hundred tomorrow.'

'Two o'clock! That's most of the day gone!'

'I have a delegation arriving tomorrow morning at o-nine hundred, we're not seeing them off until after lunch.'

'Oh yeah, politics,' he replied disinterestedly.

'Allies Rodney, without whom we might not keep Atlantis and all the technology you're so keen on. You might want to think about that.'

'Yeah, yeah,' and he wandered away, leaving Sam alone in the blessed quiet of her office. She swivelled the chair round, turning her back on the glass walls that looked out into the control room and over the Stargate, and faced the tall panes that shielded her from the weather, but not the magnificent view of the seas outside Atlantis.

New Atlantia, some of the personnel on base had begun to call it, but it wasn't really catching on. With the Athosians gone, there was no trading with the mainland, no alternative to the metropolis of Earth. The venomous creatures on the mainland put paid to any thoughts of colonisation and Sam wondered if those ignoring the new name for this planet were secretly hoping for another, more permanent, relocation.

She swept a blonde lock out of her eyes and sighed, moving Atlantis wasn't her call. She'd already heard the rumours. Woolsey was the next potential for command of Atlantis. Sometimes, Sam wondered if the IOA weren't a little too close to the NID for her liking.

At least Woolsey was a good man at heart, it could have been worse.

Chapter 2 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Memories.
The next morning dawned bright and beautiful, the shadow of two moons, hanging large and low in the sky rapidly disappeared as the sun rose higher in the sky. The delegation had gone well, and Sam was in a pleasant mood as she headed for Rodney's lab.

He grabbed her arm the second she walked in, practically dragging her over to the console where he was working. On it was a strange piece of headgear, worked spirals that appeared to attach to the head meeting at a single white crystal set in a knot of interlacing metal wires. It looked like a delicate tiara or circlet, and not a particular comfortable one at that. But, since it was Ancient, it probably was.

'So, this amplifies your thought patterns?' Sam asked, leaning in for a close look for a close look, but keeping her hands to herself. Sometimes Rodney couldn't be relied upon to switch everything off.

'Yes, but it also directs the signal generated to the right co-ordinates.'

'What are the co-ordinates?'

'Um well, I haven't been able to determine that yet. I keep losing something in the translation, it doesn't make any sense.'

'Let me see,' genuinely curious now, Sam stepped past him to pick up the tablet notebook holding all of his research. Behind her Rodney bit his lip, trying not to be bothered by Sam flicking through his files.

'You're right,' she finally said, 'I don't.... Wait!' 'What? What!' 'This equation, it only makes sense if they're using spatial dimensions, but they're not.... That's odd.'

'What is!'

She turned to look at him, her gaze silent and unwavering. He took the hint almost immediately and subsided. 'Okay, would you mind telling me what you think you've found?'

'Gladly,' Sam replied, turning the notebook round so he could read it the right way up. 'This word means time, or rather, past, present and future, all tied up together, rather like a literal translation of the word ‘temporal’. It's like they're treating space as time, not a single continuum, but reversing their place in our understanding of the universe.’

'Why on earth would they do that?'

'I've no idea. I have to go, but I'll be back this evening,’ it was obvious that Sam was itching to get her hands on the problem. When he’d worked at the SGC, McKay had seen the way she pulled all-nighters. The military training coupled with the scientist’s enthusiasm to keep her going for hours, and now she could barely stand to put it down. ‘Keep working.'

'Yeah, yeah...' but he hadn't really heard her, already head down in the computer, reworking the problem under the new light she had shone on it. Sam smiled at the oblivious McKay and made her way quietly from the lab.

He worked for hours, running diagnostics and sending pulses through the headpiece, receiving back information which he broken down and analysed, attempting to detect the co-ordinates that the signal was being sent to. But it seemed to diffuse, almost like it degraded, but far faster than it should have.

Finally, Rodney figured there was only one way he was going to find out. Activating his earpiece, he sent out a call.

‘Colonel Sheppard.’

It was nearly twenty hundred hours before Carter finally reached McKay’s lab for the second time that day. Inside she found Sheppard, sitting on a stool with the device wrapped around his head.

‘McKay! I told you not to activate the device until I gave you authorisation!’ Her voice snapped with authority and disapproval.

‘I know! I know. That’s why I’ve getting John to do it. He has more fine control of his ATA gene than anyone on Atlantis. He can power it up but not accidentally activate it. I’ve already called Dr Keller, she should be here shortly.’

‘That’s a fine line, Rodney-‘ Sam began.

‘I know,’ he started to cut in.

‘-And one I’ve walked myself a few times,’ she added. ‘Sure you’re okay with this, Colonel?’

‘Hey, I’m good at shooting and sitting. I get to do one out there, and the other in here, usually for hours at a time. Where’s the bad?’

Sam suppressed a smile. She shouldn’t encourage either of them really, at they were a touch more mellow now, handling both of them together, new to Atlantis, must have been hard on Weir. Sometimes she wondered how the woman had put up with it, certainly she had had more patience than Sam.

Unbidden, the face of the diplomat, with dark hair, threatening to curl at the ends, and amusement sparkling in her green eyes, came to mind. Sam stood still for a moment, trying to shake a memory she was sure she’d never had. She’d clashed with Weir often enough at the SGC for her over-riding memory to be one of Atlantis’ former leader sitting in her office...

...her office now...

... with a mug of coffee and a blood-red orange sunrise pouring in the window behind her.

‘McKay!’ she began warningly, and tore her gaze from the Colonel to the physicist. He was standing behind John, his expression frozen. She heard footsteps, light and quick, and seconds later Keller joined them, standing framed in the doorway.

And the image of Elizabeth changed. She was lying, bleeding and broken on a gurney, hands trying desperately to revive her. Come on, Elizabeth, we need you...

She’ll never be the same Elizabeth again...

She was dying...!

I thought you were dead...

You’re going to be alright...

A welter of memories, in three different voices, assaulted her senses and Sam broke the spell over her, throwing up her hands.

‘Stop!’

A blinding light filled the room, all four of them reacting to protect their eyes until the glow subsided. Standing in the centre of the room, facing John Sheppard, stood the very likeness of Elizabeth Weir, her hair moving as if in its own private breeze, her face the only truly steady part of her projection.

John stared, knuckles turning whit as he clenched the sides of the stool he sat on. Behind him Rodney’s mouth dropped open and a small sound reached them from the startled Jennifer.

‘Dr Weir?’ Sam’s voice carried a tone of incredulity, but she was the first one to speak, breaking the silence.

Green eyes turned her way, the gaze unfocussed. ‘Dr Weir?’ the apparition repeated.

Silence and then the image spoke again. ‘This... image is Dr Weir.’

‘Chosen?’’ it was Sheppard, his voice was calm, almost hostile.

‘By you,’ came the reply and the projection looked his way, before finding Rodney’s face. ‘And you, and the other,’ it added, referring, the others assumed, to Dr Keller.

‘Why?’ His words came out harsher than he intended but the shade before him took no notice of his inflection, only his words.

‘We are... need... a form. This we know.’

‘From when you contacted the Ancients!’ Rodney finished for them, his scrambled brains beginning to put things together again.

‘They chose. You chose. We follow.’

‘Who are you?’ It was Sam again, flicking a glance at Keller, who was sidling round further to see Elizabeth’s face, her expression one of shock and dismay.

‘We are... we exist.’

‘What we mean is, where are you from? What is your language? Your culture? Are you one of the Ascended?’

The image shook its head as if it did not understand, latching on to a single word that Rodney had used. ‘One?’ Weir leaned forward slightly, looking intently at McKay. ‘One,’ it repeated. ‘One!’ Recoiling as if in horror, the apparition closed its eyes as if to rid itself of the thought. When the eyes opened again, calm had been restored.

‘We are many. We are not Ascended. We are not Ancients. We are not you.’

‘But who are you?’

‘Rodney!’ Sam held u a warning hand. ‘I don’t think they understand.’

‘How can they not understand? They knew the Ancients, they’re thousands of years old! They must be at least that advanced by now!’

‘Advanced,’ repeated the figure. ‘Culture. Language. We do not know these... words.’

‘But you’re talking in the same language. The words you’re speaking,’ Sam started to explain, ‘they are part of our language. The way we put them together, the words we use to liken one thing to another, it’s all part of our language.’

‘Words. Yes. Words... from mind, and mouth. You are filled with them. Here is filled with them.’

‘They’re picking out language up the air around us! Verbal communications, and some kind of mental emanation. They’re learning as they go!’ The explanation tumbled from Rodney’s mouth and Sam nodded, already there. Keller glanced at him, seemingly glad hat someone here could grasp what was going on, even if she didn’t understand. Sheppard still stared mutely at the figure, his expression dark, not a word moving past his lips.

‘Where are you from?’

The blank stare turned on Sam again, and she could have sworn the inhabitants of Weir’s mind were looking for the right words to express themselves.

‘You do not... understand. You are confused... like them.’

‘Them who?’

‘The others who are here.’

‘Others like me?’ Sam tugged at the collar of her uniform to indicate Atlantean personnel.

‘No. The others. They are clothed in white and speak... another language.’

‘You mean the Ancients?’ It was McKay.

This time the creatures behind the apparition of Weir seemed to understand what he meant by Ancients. ‘Yes. They do not understand. You do not understand. This image does not understand.’ The beings inside the image were becoming stronger, the voice that sounded so odd at first becoming choral, the projection clearer.

‘Well,’ it was Sam again, trying to break through one of the many glitches in the language barrier that was obviously separating them, ‘that form is an image, a projection. It can’t understand anything.’

‘No. This image is a-,’ they hesitated, groping for the right words. ‘template? Copy?’ It does not think or speak. The form thinks and speaks. The form does not understand. When we touched the image, we looked for the form. It is here. You are here. It does not understand. You do not understand. They do not understand. Not in this place. They understand in another.’

‘They must be talking about the Ascended Ancients!’ Rodney couldn’t let it go. ‘They, but in another place-‘

‘You said, the form is here. What do you mean. Elizabeth Weir isn’t here. She’s dead. Gone.’ It was Sheppard, cutting across McKay to pick out the riddle in their answer.

‘Elizabeth,’ they chorused. ‘Elizabeth is here. Elizabeth words are clear. Your language is clear in Elizabeth mind.’ It spoke of her in the plural, as if she were many, unable to perceive, or perhaps unwilling, the singular.

‘How is Elizabeth here? We cannot see her. We do not understand.’

It was Teyla, for once without her son in her arms. She had heard the voices, one achingly familiar and had come as if drawn by it. No one had noticed her, standing in the doorway. Until she spoke.

‘You will understand.’ The image raised a hand, pointing directly at Carter.

‘Why her?’ McKay’s voice held a touch of indignation, and Keller shot him a warning look.

‘How?’ Sam asked.

‘The signal calls us. The signal calls you,’ came the reply. Which, Sam guessed, was cryptic for saying the transmission wasn’t unidirectional. She was beginning to wonder if the creatures behind Weir’s image had any concept of spatial dimensions.

‘No. We’re not going to do that. Sheppard. Remove the device.’

She’d met situations like this before.

Again the figure leaned forward, again it scrutinized. ‘We do not have words that are not so. We cannot show things that are not.’

Another cryptic remark.

‘They don’t lie!’

‘Yeah, thanks Rodney, I think we got that,’ Sheppard’s voice was laced with heavy sarcasm.

‘You will understand,’ the choral voice came again. ‘The signal will call us.’

The image began to waver, vanishing like a wisp of smoke, finally breaking its hold over Sheppard and the signal died, the device powering down. Through the place where she had been, his gaze met Teyla’s, and when he looked away, she felt a stab of pain in kind.

His grief was hers, like siblings born a galaxy apart.

Chapter 3 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Risks.
'What if they're not lying. What if Elizabeth's still alive somewhere? After all this time... she doesn't deserve to be left behind.'

Sheppard had followed her to her office, despite the toll using the device had obviously taken on him. He looked wiped out. 'Like you left her the first time?' Sam asked, her clear, blue-eyed gaze catching his, holding it for a moment before he looked away, furious at her for saying it. She was sorry for being so brutally direct, but she wasn’t going to beat around the bush, she needed to know his motives, pure and simple.

'I'm not blind John,' she went on, her voice quiet. 'And I understand.'

'Do you?' he snapped, forgetting this was his commanding officer.

'Colonel,' she replied, her voice a warning. She knew he was hurting, hell, she'd been in the same position before, not knowing if someone she cared about was alive or dead, leaving them behind against every instinct, obeying her training to maximise the lives she saved, the good that could come out of the situation her team had found themselves in. But he was skirting insubordination.

In a way, it helped, he wasn’t asking for them to proceed out of mere curiosity. This was really eating at him. But he needed to consider the bigger picture.

His eyes flickered her way, and the anger subsided. It wasn't Carter's fault and she was being a hell of a lot more understanding than any of his previous CO's. 'My apologies, ma’am,' he muttered, running his fingers through short dark hair, leaving half it stuck out at odd angles.

She gave a nod. Apology accepted; provisionally.

'You made the right call, Colonel, by leaving her behind. And that's all any of us can ever do,’ she gave him the reassurance before hitting him with the guilt. ‘But whose life are you willing to risk to bring her back? Are you asking me to potentially had over control of my mind to creatures we know nothing about in the hope they're not lying? Do you think the Replicators you met lied about her death now?'

He flinched, the hope that had risen before him driving back all rational objections, which Sam had now placed in front of him, starkly real under the bright light of command. She was right, risking their lives to rescue one of their own was a duty, throwing lives away on a rumour was foolhardy.

Well, no one ever accused him of being sensible.

But she was right. Just because he’d played with these aliens once, didn’t mean they weren’t holding their cards in reserve. They could be planning anything and he wouldn’t know.

'What if I do it?' he asked suddenly.

'You think they'd let you?'

'No, I mean, what if I let them do whatever they're gonna do to you. I might not understand, but we could find out if it's safe.'

'Colonel-' Sam began.

'Please. I'm willing to take the risk,' he turned round in his seat, leaning forward on the desk to speak earnestly, aware that he had to convince her of his sincerity. It didn't take much effort, since not a word that passed his lips was a lie. 'I can't spend the rest of my life wondering if I left her behind in the hands of Oberoth to live, maybe for years, with his hand stuck inside her head. That's no way to die. And it's no way to live. For either of us.'

Sam sat back, considering him with those expressive blue eyes, the ones that could go from warm to ice-cold in a heartbeat. He’d seen those eyes watching over Atlantis, wondering if the mind behind them ever thought of her predecessor, a woman she’d worked with but hadn’t particularly struck a rapport with either, not like their team had had here, in the Pegasus Galaxy.

'I'll consider it Colonel. Dismissed.'

He considered arguing the point, but for once Sheppard clamped down on the urge to have the last word, Sam was fair-minded and a damn good commander. She trusted her people.

It was time for him to trust her now.

With a nod, he stood, saluted and left the room, hurrying down the stairs from the control room without a backwards glance, disappearing in the direction of the armoury and his usual duties. Sam watched him go, releasing a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.

His reaction was the one she'd been waiting for, almost since she'd stepped foot on Atlantis. He wanted to go back for his commander, every instinct demanded it, and he’d skirted demands to be released to go find her. If it hadn’t been for the other people under his command, the need, she was sure, to see Elizabeth’s work wasn’t undone, he’d have skipped town long ago, and found her himself.

But Elizabeth Weir had left too much trust in the hands of Atlantis’ military commander. And now, John Sheppard had finally trusted her, not just with Atlantis, but with Elizabeth Weir's fate, and his own.

Her own instincts, both militarial and scientific, demanded they do this, but there were so many potential dangers that she hesitated. Nowshe was the one to consider whether the wacky idea were worth pursuing, the insane plans worth the risk... she couldn’t simply ride with her own instincts, she had more at stake to consider. And she was unwilling to tangle with another species that could turn out to be an undiscovered enemy.

They had enough to deal with right now.

And yet... the memory of Elizabeth Weir, letting her take the only Alkesh they had on a long-shot chance to save one of her team, rose in her mind. Sometimes all you had was instinct, and Sam's instincts told her to do all she could to bring Elizabeth home.

Pushing away from her desk, she wandered outside to the balcony, leaning on the rail to watch the white-capped waves crash against the walls of Atlantis, turning over the possibilities in her mind. She pushed back the feeling that she’d already made the decision and started looking at ways to minimise the danger.

Chapter 4 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Time kills.
They gathered in McKay’s lab, Sheppard’s team, Sam and Keller. When Sam walked in, the last to join them, Sheppard remembered the last time, when he’d seen Elizabeth with his mind’s eye, and memories of her as commander of Atlantis filled the room as the device reached out, encompassing them all.

The same image rose in Sam's mind. Behind John, McKay's fixed his gaze on the middle distance. Teyla took a step forward, Ronan paused, his face turned away and Keller stood back, waiting for the same, disturbing apparition as last time.

They came in another flash of light, revealing the image of Elizabeth again. The same choral voice spoke and Sam stepped forward, laying her fingertips on the device wrapped around Sheppard's head.

'This is the device, it sends the signal that calls you. Colonel Sheppard,' she continued, laying a hand on John's shoulder, 'called you. We will take the device from him and put it on me,' she pointed to herself. 'Will you stay if we move the device?'

It was overdone, but the language barrier had caused an issue last time and Sam didn't want this going wrong.

The multiple entity watched her for several long moments with a faintly puzzled air, processing the information. Finally they seemed to come to a decision.

'The signal calls. The signal does not bind us.'

'And the device?'

'The signal calls. The signal does not bind us.'

Sam drew a breath and tried another tactic, 'you told us you could make me understand. Can you do that without the device?'

Again the pause, 'the signal leaves your mind. The signal must return to your mind.'

'I'll take that as a yes,' she replied, nodding at McKay.

Rodney reached out, carefully manoeuvring the device from Sheppard's head. John slipped out of the seat and Sam took a breath before stepping into his place, settling into position as the physicist settled the apparatus on her head.

Blue eyes widened as they made contact, allowing her no time to adapt to the open conduit directly into her mind. She clutched the arms of the chair; open to an unrelenting data-stream spilling directly into her head. It was all Sam could do to hold on.

They were talking to her, a babble of words and pictures, conveying the sense of their existence in the only way they knew. There were hundreds of them, thousands, but like bees or termites, they lived inside a hive mind, existing together or not at all.

Beyond it all, they brought with them another concept, so alien that they presented it in several different ways before Sam understood.

She had been right about their concept of spatial dimensions; they understood nothing of the convention world that nearly all life existed in. They lived in time itself! They hadn't been in contact with the Ancients, they were in contact with them.

As Carter herself could travel across points in space, speaking to different cultures and people along the way, they moved through time, speaking to people separated by seconds or eons. When they said Elizabeth was here, they meant it. To them, she was a metaphorical step away, and they couldn't understand why, if Sam and her people wanted her, they simply didn't walk, as Sam would across a room, to fetch her.

In return for the information they had shared, she spilled spatial awareness into them, turning their concept of the universe on its head, making them understand distance rather than time and what it meant to the people they communicated with.

They were frightened, alarmed beyond reason until the fear broke and they showed her what it meant.

Death.

Separation by distance would kill them, as time inevitably took human life, so space took theirs. They were here, concentrated in the Pegasus Galaxy, one of may isolated pockets, or the only one left in existence.

They didn't know.

Suddenly a white light filled her vision, from far away she could hear a welter of voices, calling her name, but she refused to break the link.

'No!' She heard her own voice shout the words, but it was tiny, as if she could only hear herself from a distance. She reached up, clutching the device in place, grappling with the vague idea that she was no longer sitting in the chair. 'Not yet!'

The light faded and in front of her stood Elizabeth Weir. They were standing in a cell, like the one in Atlantis. Prisoners.

Time kills.

The brunette turned, eyes widening, taking a step away. 'Colonel Carter?' she enquired, her voice wary.

'Yes.'

'How?'

'I don't know. Where are we?'

'The Asuran city. John's taken Rodney and Ronan, and a ZPM. They can save Atlantis. Are you aboard the Daedalus?'

This place remains the same. Time shifts and changes, like a river it folds back on itself, mixing waters, but this is where she ends in the river, there is no way back. 'Then why am I here?'

A gift, for sharing your words. Water may splash from one rivulet to another. You are like raindrops in the river, and you can go anywhere.

She tried to object, even whilst she watched Elizabeth wandering this small piece of the city, looking for the Replicators that were no longer there. It would alter time, they couldn't know the consequences.

Their thoughts spilled back into her, it wasn't like choosing to move left or right out of your front door. They weren't choosing a spatial pathway, they were jumping, like the 'Gate system jumped her from one place to another.

In our place, she is dead.

Now she will be both.

Is that possible?

They didn't know what laughter was, but she felt their humour.

Yes. You have taught us much. Given freely. We are grateful, but this is energy and we cannot find more. Will you take her with you? We are a bridge, but the bridge falls and soon time will kill you both.

Then we have to leave.

Yes. But your reflection will remain. You can teach us much. We ask your permission to speak with the image you will leave behind. And hers.

She had to take the chance that Elizabeth would agree.

Yes.

Sam reached out, taking Weir's hand in her own. 'Elizabeth! We have to go.'

'But I have to keep them frozen, my team-'

'Are safe. The Daedalus has them.'

She nodded, and Sam's grip tightened as the light blazed and bore them both away.

Chapter 5 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Skipped through time.
'Colonel Carter! Can you hear me?' Keller felt for a pulse, finding one, weak and thready. 'Dammit!' She touched her earpiece, 'this is Dr Keller, I need a crash cart and a gurney to Dr McKay's lab, one casualty!'

'Rodney, can we get that thing off her?!' It was Sheppard, his voice urgent. He couldn’t help wondering if all he had done was throw Sam's life after Elizabeth's, on a foolhardy, pointless mission. The blonde Colonel had collapsed seconds after putting on the head device, falling to her knees. Before they could stop her, Sam had risen again, walking blindly to the apparition of Elizabeth Weir, reaching out to take her hand and the room had exploded in a blaze of light.

When it subsided, the others had found them both on the floor, apparently unconscious. All attention was on Carter, each of them still believing Weir was only an image, a projection.

'No! I don't know what it'll do, it could kill her! Her brainwaves all over the place, it's like she carrying more than person inside her head. I don’t understand!'

‘Try! I need answers, or we’re gonna lose her!’ Keller’s voice cut across his panic.

Teyla hovered next to Ronan, alternating her gaze between the drama on the floor and the image of Elizabeth which lay close by, looking almost real. Involuntarily, it seemed, she took a step towards her, almost before she realised what she was doing. She took another, then another and the Athosian warrior knelt at Weir's side, reaching out a cautious hand to touch her cheek.

She was warm.

'Elizabeth?' Even to her own ears her tone held a touch of wonderment, as if she had witnessed a miracle. 'Elizabeth!' she repeated, her voice an urgent whisper. She lay gentle fingertips on the brunette’s chest. It wasn't an illusion, the image was warm, real, solid... and she drew breath.

'Dr Keller! Dr Keller! She is alive!'

Jennifer looked up, her eyes wide and underneath her hands Sam choked, drawing in a deep breath, her heartbeat thudding fast and strong. Blue eyes fluttered open and from nearby Keller heard another painful breath, drawn in by the apparent copy of Elizabeth Weir. The doctor curled on her side, choking and gasping as if she had been pulled from the water.

Sheppard darted over, falling to his knees beside Elizabeth, sweeping a lock of dark hair away from her face. 'Elizabeth? Elizabeth!'

'Here,' she choked out, her throat constricting painfully around the word. She tried to ask what had happened but she couldn't, drawing breath was hard enough.

John looked up, his gaze searching out Keller's. 'Is Carter okay?'

Jennifer looked up, relief flooding her features and nodded. 'I need to get her up to the infirmary,' she replied as the medical team came running, dragging a crash cart and a gurney, 'but yeah, I think she'll be okay.'

'I'm fine,' Sam coughed, rolling onto her front to stare in disbelief as Sheppard slipped his arms under Elizabeth's shaking form, lifting her in one smooth motion onto the gurney. He stepped back, letting Keller give up Sam to Ronan and Rodney as she dashed to Elizabeth's side.

'It worked,' Sam croaked out, leaning heavily on Ronan, 'I didn't believe them,' she added, losing her voice towards the end.

'No talking,' Keller snapped, checking over Elizabeth, 'Kay, Gare,' she said, turning to her staff, 'get Colonel Carter up to the infirmary, I want a full work-up.'

Another gurney was suggested, but Sam shook her head, managing the walk with Ronan on one side and nurse on the other. John trailed along behind, his brain still catching up on events, his expression settling into a dark scowl.

'John?' A light, familiar voice, spoke behind him as she caught up.

'Don't say it Teyla, we don't know it's her yet, we've been duped before remember?'

'I do not think this is a trick John.'

'We'll see,' Sheppard replied, stalking along behind the gurney. He’d wanted this, hell he’d practically begged Carter for the chance, and now Elizabeth was here he didn’t believe it.

In front of him Sam stumbled and he caught up, taking her weight from Kay and sharing the burden with Ronan. He bit back a dozen questions, aware Sam was barely conscious, let alone able to answer him.

Yet again, it seemed, he was going to play the waiting game. Why the hell had he opened this can of worms in the first place?

He could only see it ending badly.

Chapter 6 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Catching up.
It was an hour before they reconvened in the infirmary over Keller’s objection. She wanted Sam to rest, but Carter objected to a sedative, and she wanted to know what had happened whilst she was... wherever it had been, with Weir.

Elizabeth still slept, her initial signs of consciousness had quickly faded and Keller had been unable to rouse her a second time. They gathered nearby, Carter sitting up in an infirmary bed, although she thought it was unnecessary. Keller spoke first.

'I’ve done a full body scan, including EEGS and we’re currently running blood tests though the results won’t be back for some time. She's not a clone, she has no nanites in her system, to all intents and purposes she is Elizabeth, except...'

'What is it, doc?' It was Sheppard.

'Well... She has no scars. Her medical records don't match up. It's as if all traces of living have been stripped from her, no scars, no marks, no signs of the operation she had on her wrist when she was a kid, the tooth she cracked when she was sixteen... it's all gone. I don't know how to explain it.'

'I think I might,' Carter spoke up, turning her gaze on the prone figure who slept nearby, oblivious of her audience. 'I think they created her, here and now in this time and space, but they dragged her consciousness away from the killing eddy of time where she was trapped. They created her body from new and implanted her consciousness in it. Like the Asguard.'

'Won't she suffer the same degradation they did?' McKay asked, wondering how the hell the alien managed to create her in the first place, but more importantly, if they’d known how to do it correctly.

'No,' Keller replied, 'they didn't clone her, they, well, they remade her.'

'Will she wake up?' Ronan’s dark voice intruded on the conversation.

Keller shrugged, 'there's no reason for her not to, she's simply sleeping, but I don't know how long it will last, I've never seen this kind of situation before.'

Carter gave a wry smile; that was a phrase she had heard, and often repeated, throughout her long years with the Stargate programme. It was unlikely to get old anytime soon.

‘Okay. We’ll leave her under Dr Keller’s observation for now, I want guards posted at all infirmary exits. We take no chances, if she’d the real Dr Weir, I know she’ll understand. If she’s not-‘ she broke off, her gaze fixing on Sheppard. ‘If she’s not, we all need to be prepared.’

General acknowledgements came her way. Everyone wanted to believe she was real, but they’d seen to many copies to trust their own instincts in this particular case. They could only wait, and see what Keller’s investigations turned up.

Finally released, Sam and the others headed out, but before Carter left she turned to Sheppard. 'Stay here Colonel, let me know if and when she wakes up. Anything she had to say could give us a clue as to who she really is.’

John nodded. Turning back to the bedside, he settled himself into one of the plastic chairs that littered the infirmary, crossing long legs in front of him, and waited.

She awoke a couple of hours later, blinking in the bright lights of the infirmary, her voice groggy as she spoke.

'John?'

'I'm here,' he loomed in her field of view, 'how you feelin'?

'Like I was hit with a wall. What happened?'

'You don't remember?'

She shook her head, wincing at the result, 'in part I guess. I remember screaming at you and Ronan to go, Oberoth was breaking my hold over the Replicators...and then...then... I forget what happened. But then Colonel Carter came, I thought they had captured her too. I don’t remember how... Wait! The Daedalus.’

John nodded, ‘yeah, we know. Remember who you are?’

‘Dr Elizabeth Weir, leader of the Atlantis Expedition, nanite-infested diplomat. I miss my dog. You and McKay drive me insane at times. Anything else you want to know?’

He grinned, ‘I think you’ll pass. Let me call Dr Keller.’ ‘Keller?’ She remembered the doctor who had taken over from Carson, the memory of death rising on a wave of grief. ‘Wait, no. I remember.’

‘Okay.’ He left for a moment, pushing herself up to sit back against the pillows rather than lie down, with the glare of the infirmary light shining in her eyes.’ He returned a few moments later, Dr Jennifer Keller in tow.

‘Dr Keller,’ Weir greeted her, ‘since I’m not in an isolation tent, may I assume the nanites have been deactivated?’ Although if they had, it didn’t make sense, shouldn’t she be dead? She’d realised, on the ‘Jumper, between Atlantis and the Asuran city, just how extensive the damage had been. Almost as if her nanites were conveying the information to her.

‘Well. Kinda,’ Keller wasn’t sure she should broach the subject until Elizabeth had spoken with a shrink, someone who could determine how much she should be told. But Sheppard cut across the red tape tying up Keller’s hands and spoke.

‘The raid on the Asurans happened a long time ago, Elizabeth. You’re been declared dead for over a year.’

‘I- What? Why?

‘We lost you on the Asuran homeworld. The Daedalus appeared, gave us covering fire. They scanned for you, but your life sign was already gone. It was months before we heard what had happened to you. A rebel group of Asurans created a copy of you, downloaded her with your mind. They created copies of all of us actually. When they contacted us, I asked them.’

‘Asked them what?’ her voice was wary, skimming the edge of fear. Bad enough her own memories didn’t tally with the truth, although she felt there was something in that gap, a grey fog, obscuring her mind. ‘What, John?’

‘If they’d help us find you. She told me you were dead, had been for some time. The Asurans kept you alive for months before they finally killed you. I’m sorry, ‘Lisabeth. I should never have left you there.’

Months?’ She was horrified. Not because they’d left her behind, she’d ordered them to abandon her and save Atlantis. No. The Asurans had her in their grip for months, who knew what the hell they had done? What they’d implanted in her nanites or in her mind?

‘I have to be isolated. John, I could be a danger to this whole facility, everyone on it. Are you sure the nanites are deactivated?’ she demanded of Keller, whipping her head round to face the doctor.

‘Elizabeth, the nanites aren’t deactivated, they’re gone.’

‘Gone? How?’

‘It was Colonel Carter,’ Sheppard took up the story again, ‘she’s been in charge of Atlantis since you were declared MIA. But McKay made contact with another species, when Carter joined her mind to their, they showed her you were still alive, trapped in time. She pulled you through into the future.’

She sank back against the pillows, her face white. Keller moved forward, taking her blood pressure, checking the monitors keeping an electronic eye on her vital signs. ‘Dr Weir, are you okay?’

Weir looked up, her eyes finding Sheppard’s, and he could see the same aching confusion lying behind them that he saw the day he rescued her from Kolya. He used the same reassurance he had then, the one he’d returned to when she sat in that isolation room, active nanites streaming through her blood.

‘You’re going to be okay, Elizabeth.’

She nodded. She didn’t really believe him, he could tell, but she nodded, trusting him to be right, even if she couldn’t see it right now. He pulled the chair up to her bedside, sitting down again.

‘You up for speaking with Carter?’

Elizabeth remembered the fiery blonde under her command at the SGC. She was a good soldier, brilliant scientist, and not inclined to take no for an answer, but tiredness swept over her at the thought of rehashing this all over again. She needed a little time, but she also knew the burdens of command, ‘you'd better call her I fall asleep again.’

Before he could say anything, Keller cut him off, ‘no, you need your rest. Doctor’s orders. You can talk to Colonel Carter when you’re stronger,’ she turned and walked away, leaving them alone.

‘I guess that's that. So,’ he said, ‘how’s it feel to be back?’

‘Like home,' she replied, almost asleep. Forcing her eyes open again, she asked suddenly, ‘Rodney, Ronan, Teyla... is everyone...?’

‘Alive? Yes. We’ll fill you in on the details later. Sleep. I’ll be here.’

She tried not to, but weariness permeated every bone until she gave in, and slept.

Chapter 7 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Reality
Sheppard had been there when she had woken up again. He'd summoned Carter and both had relayed their stories, Elizabeth with her brief moments amongst the Replicators, and Sam with her story of the aliens who saw time as distance and distance as time. She explained, as best she could, that Elizabeth herself was a copy with her original mind inside.

It made sense to everyone over the next few days. At first she had complications with her sight, with focussing, her hearing, then her co-ordination. Each problem had cleared up in a matter of hours but Keller had had a theory.

'It's like you're newborn. The body you're in is fully grown and mature but it never had to do anything. It needed to learn to focus properly, to hear a range of sounds, to co-ordinate all your limbs.... You're probably lightweight when it comes to alcohol too,' Keller had grinned. 'No trying to drink anyone under the table and I want you to attend regular physio sessions each week, we'll also test your range of motor skills. You should be in peak condition in short order, but let's make sure nothing goes wrong in the meantime.'

Elizabeth nodded. 'Thank you, Dr Keller. When can I leave here?'

'Oh, I think you can go back to your quarters today. But you're not cleared for duty yet. Take some time to catch up with everyone and everything you've missed. And I'm scheduling you a course of meetings with Heightmeyer, this is quite the culture shock, Dr Weir, don't rush yourself.'

Weir nodded, slipping off the gurney where she had been sat. Sheppard stood nearby and almost reached out when she nearly failed to catch herself in time. 'I'm okay,' she murmured, wavinghim off. She stood straight, turning to face him. 'So, Colonel, do I still have quarters aboard Atlantis, even if I don't have a duty anymore,' she added quietly.

'Hey, don't worry about that now. Carter's working on that. The Airforce would be daft not to jump at the chance of having you back, I know I did.' He froze for a moment, then skipped on rapidly. 'I mean, Rodney, Teyla... everyone really, they missed you.'

'And you, John?' she asked lightly, falling into step beside him as they left the infirmary.

'Me? Well, I need to apologise.'

'For what?' She sounded suprised.

'For leaving you behind. For always leaving you behind, every day.' He felt guilty, it wasn't a guess, it was written all over his face.

'I ordered you to go, John. Atlantis needed you, to defend her and her crew. If coming back for me meant losing this place, and these people, it was too high a price to pay. You did the right thing.'

'Then tell me something. Were you scared?' It was a direct question and althought she squirmed a little under the interrogation, she knew she couldn't lie to him.

'I was terrified,' she admitted. 'I knew what they could do to me. I knew what Oberon would do to me; he was far more vindictive, more vengeful, than any of the others. Now I'll never know what they intended, although there's a version of me, caught somwhere in time, living it. I'm a copy after all.'

'No you're not!' His reply was quick and vehement. 'They took your mind, Liz'beth, they took who you were and left the copy behind. The Elizabeth back then jumped to the here and now. That's you. Anything else is a shadow.'

She smiled, kind of and he turned their steps deliberately away from the direction of the crew quarters, leading her up the stairs, past Gate control and through Carter's office. When she tried to object, he caught her hand and pulled her through, ignoring the stares that came their way. When they stepped out on the balcony outside her old office and the morning sun blazed on the waves below, the blue waves crashing against the piers and the walls of Atlantis, Elizabeth let go and stepped towards the railing all by herself.

Staring out at the view, the colours and glittering towers of the city, Elizabeth almost laughed, catching her breath in her throat. 'It's beautiful,' she whispered. 'I think I wantd to forget how much. Knowing they had me, that I would never see this again, and then in the infirmary, I didn't want to look outside, I didn't want to remember because I didn't believe-' she paused, unwilling to voice the fear.

'You didn't believe you were real?' John came back up behind her, laying one hand over hers on the rail and grasping her fingers with his. 'This is real Elizabeth. The sun, the sky, the waves, Atlantis.... me.... and you.'

She looked up, locking her eyes on his and for a few moments they simply stared at each other, the events of the past week suspended. He broke away first, jumping straight into the safest conversation he could find. 'Uh, Carter's left a laptop and pile of papers in your quarters so you can catch up on current events. Teyla wants to get the team together for dinner in her quarters, she wants to introduce you to Torren.'

'Her son?'

He nodded, grinning, he loved that little lad. 'He's a wily bundle of trouble.' He sobered up for a moment, staring with a far away look in his eyes. 'We nearly lost them both.'

Eliabeth nodded. 'I've heard some of the highlights, John.' She turned her hand over and squeezed his fingers gently. He looked down in suprise, not even realising he was still holding her hand. 'They're safe now, you did a great job.'

'I would have done it better with you around.' It was impulsive and he shook his head, turning back towards the city, letting go of her fingers. 'I'll show you to your quarters.'

She knew the way, but it didn't matter. They walked the rest of the way with silence between them. Not that it mattered, they were stopped every few yards by another member of the expedition, wishing Weir all the best, saying how glad they were she was back and congratulating Sheppard on behalf of himself, Carter and McKay, for finding her. Sheppard managed to nod and smile, but his inner mood seemed to grow grimmer with each congratulation.

When they finally reached her door, she turned on him. 'What wrong, Colonel?'

Sheppard shrugged one shoulder, refusing to meet her eyes, the bleak look on his face disturbing.

'John!'

He looked up at that, frowning, but it was more directed at himself than her. 'I don't deserve to be thanked for rescuing you, Lis'beth. I should've come after you a long time ago.'

'Didn't we cover this?'

'It's not good enough.'

'It has to be, because it's all we've got.' She tilted her head to one side, that serious smile on her face as she looked him in the eyes. 'I'm going to trust you, John, when you say I'm real. I'm going to let the doubt go and believe you. Now the question is, do you trust me?'

He watched her for several long minutes, rocking slightly on the balls of his feet. Finally he ran a hand though already wild black hair and nodded, letting out his breath with a sigh. 'I trust you.' He nodded again, 'I trust you.'

Her smile was like the sun. 'Good. Then tell Teyla we'll be at her quarters for dinner tonight. I think we could use a little RnR after this past week. Apparently, I've got some reading to catch up on, so I'll see you later?'

'I'll come by at seven, escort you to Teyla's, she's in new quarters with her family now.'

She nodded, waving her hand over the sensors to open the door and stepped inside, he walked away, heading back to the Gateroom. Behind him he heard her call out and turned briefly.

'John?'

'Yeah?'

'Thank you, for coming after me.'

'It was Carter really-'

She shook her head, interrupting him. 'I know she contacted them, but she told me it was because of you. You never gave up, John. That means a great deal to me.'

She was always more eloquent than he was because all he could think of to do was nod and then she disappeared as the door slid shut.
Chapter 8 by shipper scifi
Author's Notes:
Memories
Elizabeth wandered around her stark quarters. It was disorientating, seeing the bare shelves and walls. She supposed it would be the same tomorrow, when she met Carter in her office and sat on the wrong side of the table. She had walked through there earlier, on the way to the balcony but she hadn't really seen it.

But could see this. She opened a drawer, expecting to see it empty but received a suprise when she found clothes in there instead. She reached in, lifting out a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a jumper.... Another drawer contained lingerie and nightwear, all wrapped in new packs, either donated by members of the expedition who hadn't opened items yet or shipped from Earth, she wasn't sure which, she wasn't sure how often Atlantis could reach Earth now and vice versa.

Either way, it was thoughtful and she wondered if it had been Carter or Keller, or even Teyla who had co-ordinated this. She turned to look at the desk, placed under the window. A laptop sat there, piles of folders nearby and, suprisingly, a couple of photo frames. One was a picture of herself, with her mother and Sedgewick. The other was a team shot- Ronan hulked in the background, Teyla was sitting next to Carson and the two of them were practicaly laughing into the camera. Rodney looked bored but was plastering on a polite smile, sitting next to her, Weir, in the middle with Sheppard on the other side. The camera had snapped them a moment before or after the pose and they were looking at each other, smiling, relaxed for one of those rare moments when the world hadn't appeared to weigh on them.

She hadn't seen this one before. A similar photo, but not this one and she wondered where it had come from. The other photo too... from what she had been told, she thought all of her belongings would have been long gone. When she slid open the drawers in the desk, she found a pad of paper, pens, pencils and her father's watch.

Lifting it out, Elizabeth examined it closely. It was her father's pocket watch alright. But it was cleaner than she remembered, polished by a professional hand. When she pressed the button and it sprang open, she second hand leapt forwad, ticking away the seconds.... but it hadn't worked in years! Wrapping the chain around her fingers, she opened the laptop and went to her email, scanning down the long list of missives and greetings that had dropped into her newly revived inbox in the past seven days.

She hadn't really gotten any work done at all by the time six o'clock came. She had left her quarter only once and it had taken her over an hour to greet everyone who had met her, have lunch and make her way back. Teyla had seen her and drawn her immediately into a hug. Her warm golden eyes had glowed with pleasure and confirmed her invitation to dinner that evening.

'Colonel Carter has told the crew to leave you alone for a few days to acclimatise. But you may expect plenty of visitors when those days are up, Elizabeth. Enjoy the time to yourself. We are so glad to have you back among us; John most of all. He carried much guilt and sadness when we lost you.'

Elizabeth had nodded. 'I know, Teyla. I've already spoken to him.''

Teyla had smiled at that. 'I am glad. It was not good for him. When he came to rescue me, he disobeyed his superiors and put himself in harm's way. He was like a man possessed, as if by saving me, he could ease the pain he felt at losing you.'

'He's airforce, Teyla, leaving anyone behind is an anaethma to them. And he cares a great deal about you, I've no doubt he would move heaven and earth to make sure you were safe, especially since you carrying Torren.'

Teyla sobered at that. 'I was very foolish, but it is in the past and all those I love are safe. There is a lot to grateful for, Elizabeth, and you are not the least of those blessings.'

Weir had smiled at that and hugged her, promising to make it to dinner that evening. She had gone back to her quarters reassured and happier. When the clock softly chimed six, she put down the papers she had been reading and headed for the shower.

Sheppard arrived promptly at 1900 hours. The door chimed and a voice inside called out "come in" followed by the door sliding open. Low lights reflected the early twilight outside and he stopped short in the doorway, watching Elizabeth as she stacked the scattered papers on her desk and turned.

She was wearing jeans and a red shirt, the civvie style button up blouse kind of shirt. He was aware some clothes had been donated, others gathered from stores, he wasn't sure what she had been given, Teyla had organised it with Keller's help. Obviously, Keller and Teyla both had good taste and were aware of Elizabeth's dress size.

A silver chain hung across a couple of her belt loops and the slight bump in her pocket indicated she carried the watch he had given to Teyla to place in her desk. Her mother had insisted he keep it and he had had it restored. When she came back, it was only right she had it, along with the photos he had kept, hidden away in the chest in his quarters.

Her hair gleamed in the low light, chestnut curls tucked partly in her collar. She looked happier, more relaxed, than he had seen her for months before she- he stopped the thought there and swallowed hard at the memory.

'John?' Her light voice reached out to him from across the room, concern lacing her tone. 'John, are you alright?'

He broke the moment with that cocky, flyboy smile and nodded. 'Yeah. You ready to go? You look... terrific, by the way.'

Her smile was bright as she thanked him, and they fell into step together as they left her quarters. It felt natural walking the halls of Atlantis together in the evening, the lights low, most of the crew settling down for the evening. They talked of small things, minor, humourous events and kept the conversation light. Elizabeth was still unsure of her status on Atlantis and here only on Carter's sufferance at the moment, so they avoided the bigger picture and concentrated on their team, their crew and Atlantis herself.

She was laughing by the time Teyla's door slid open and seeing McKay sitting there already, looking impatient with this team bonding exercise only made her laugh harder. Teyla smiled, inviting them in and Elizabeth found her composure enough to greet McKay and Ronan. Moments later Teyla reappeared with Kanaan behind her and Torren in her arms.

Elizabeth rose from her chair with a smile, catching her breath as Teyla passed over her son. 'Oh Teyla, he's beautiful. You must both be so proud.'

Kanaan grinned and Teyla nodded with a soft smile, running a gentle hand over her son's hair as he caught one of Elizabeth's curls in one hand and reached up to explore the new face before him with the other. He squealed in delight, and Elizabeth sat back down with him, the infant catching sight of his honorary uncle, John Sheppard and throwing his chunky little body in his direction.

'Is that someone you know, huh? Want to go to play with Uncle John?' Elizabeth murmured softly, passing over the child before he wriggled out of her grasp completely.

John took him with a 'hey little guy' and bounced the baby on his knee. Elizabeth leaned over to stroke the small, soft cheek and the baby turned his face to give her a wide, toothless grin. Across the room, Teyla smothered a grin as she watched them interact and pulled Kanaan out of the room to finish preparing the meal. It was rare they had time alone together.

By the time they returned to the main living space, Ronan had poured drinks for everyone and McKay sat, watching Elizabeth play with Torren with a half-terrified, half-amused look on his face. Ronan and John stood, talking but Sheppard was only half in on the conversation, his eyes on the tableau on the floor. When Teyla walked in, Ronan glanced at her, rolled his eyes and moved in on Kanaan for a little more coherent conversation than he had gotten out of Sheppard. Teyla stepped over to John's side.

'It is a blessing to have her back with us, is it not, John?'

'Yeah,' he smiled, his eyes still on Elizabeth and Torren. 'I'm not sure I believe it.'

'It is true,' Teyla reassured him. 'Why don't you go sit with her?' He finally raised his eyes to look at her. 'I am not blind, John. You missed her and you care for her a great deal. When you came to rescue me, you did it for her; you never thought she would forgive you if I and Torren were lost too.'

'I came after you because I didn't want to lose you too, Teyla.'

'Too,' Teyla repeated, a little smugly, her eyes turning to Elizabeth once more. 'Go, John, talk to her. She is back, for a time at least. You should enjoy it.'

'What do you mean? "For a time"?'

'She is no longer the leader of Atlantis, John, and this base is still under Earth jurisdiction. Who knows where the Airforce will choose to send her next?'

John nodded grimly, what Teyla said was true, unthinkable but true. But where else did Elizabeth Weir belong, if not on Atlantis?

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