The First Year by Atri
Summary: The first year was perhaps the most important of them all.
Categories: Fanfiction Characters: None
Genres: Episode Prologues & Epilogues, Introspective, Missing Scene
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 16 Completed: Yes Word count: 13506 Read: 27468 Published: October 18, 2009 Updated: January 22, 2013
Story Notes:
This story is planned as a series of oneshots, all taking place in season 1 of SGA. I write this with my New Lantean Chronicles in mind. These stories will explain how the characters develop and will go on until the expedition saves itself by relocating to New Lantea. Hopefully, after I have completed NLC:LCF, I'll be able to write about the other four years.

1. Chapter 1 by Atri

2. Chapter 2 by Atri

3. Chapter 3 - 38 minutes by Atri

4. Chapter 4 by Atri

5. Chapter 5 by Atri

6. Chapter 6 by Atri

7. Chapter 7 by Atri

8. Chapter 8 by Atri

9. Chapter 9 by Atri

10. Chapter 10 by Atri

11. Chapter 11 by Atri

12. Chapter 12 by Atri

13. Chapter 13 by Atri

14. Chapter 14 by Atri

15. Chapter 15 by Atri

16. Chapter 16 by Atri

Chapter 1 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: None

CATEGORY: Introspective

PAIRING: hints of Sparky

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Rising

SUMMARY: The First Year

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
__________________________________________________________



Long after the party ends, he is standing on the balcony, overlooking the city that would be theirs from now on. It is softly whispering in his mind, luring him with long lost secrets, welcoming him with soothing energy.

You’re home, it says. This is where your people were born, where the knowledge of the universe was gathered, where life was seeded.

And, he thinks, perhaps it is right. He has never before felt such belonging, such a bond to a place, not even in his childhood home. But what has that feeling cost me, his mind whispers. What, indeed.

The tall spires of Atlantis glisten softly in the moonlight. It is like a silver veil has fallen over everything, transporting it into a beautiful dream. He has never seen stars so clear or the night sky so full of them. The sea is calm in this hour and he can feel its fresh, salty scent reach him even here, elevated over the ocean like he is. A fairytale born on a distant planet, brought to him by a winged horse and an event horizon of shimmering blue.

But despite this beauty, his mood does not reflect the light of his surroundings. For his thoughts have taken on a much darker turn, walking behind doubts and by the side of fears. Oh, yes! He knows what it has cost him, to see such wonders in his life.

This position on the expedition, he has not accepted it lightly. And, now, he is the military commander, taking the place of someone he killed. It does not matter that it was an act of mercy. It does not matter that he did not have another choice or that his CO’s eyes had pleaded for the relief that death would bring him. If everyone knew what he had done, they would look at him both with hesitation and caution, fearing what he was capable of. But nobody knows of the circumstances that surround the death of his predecessor. Nobody except…

“Good evening, Major.”

…her.

Her smile is friendly but subdued, as if she knows the place his mind has spirited him away to. She is the one whom he told all the gritty, gruesome details to and she is also the one who deemed it necessary to keep the exact way Colonel Marshall Sumner died under wraps. Why has she done it? To help him with his subordinates? They are military and know that such things happen. But they are also very young, innocent in many ways and may not understand.

Regardless, he is thankful and gives her an acknowledging nod, his lips twitching up in a bad attempt of a smile. She does not demand more and he will not offer it. Words, he believes, are useless in such a situation. There is now a secret between them – the first of many, if things continue to go like this – and it has bonded them in a different way. Standing beside each other, here, on a balcony in the lost city of Atlantis, she has already accepted him as her counterpart, the military one to her civilian. They are the same side of a coin. And though he is well aware that in the future, they will have different opinions on certain things, will perhaps argue and scream and rage, he is content now.

His actions will plague him for a while, until he stows them away with his other dark memories, reserved to come out in his nightmares only.

He relaxes slightly in her presence, allowing his emotions to lighten, his mind to clear. He’s only known her for some weeks, but he feels comfortable around her, almost positive in his thinking. In her green eyes, he sees a budding friendship slowly rupturing the professional demeanors they have taken to wearing on the outside. It is not yet in full bloom, but he has no doubt whatsoever that it will be. The result, he imagines, will be magnificent.

He smiles openly and she grins back.

Together, they turn to admire their new planet – new home, the city whispers – once more. It is a new world, a new galaxy full of dangers and enemies, but also of wonders and friends. It won’t be easy. Of course, it won’t. But he doesn’t fear or doubt, not when he has her to support him and the city to fill his mind with soothing whispers.

Tonight, their people are asleep, dreaming of silver spires and alien worlds, watched over by them both. For tonight and from this day on, the two of them are guardians of them all.
Chapter 2 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: None

CATEGORY: Introspective

PAIRING: hints of Sparky

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Rising

SUMMARY: The first year was perhaps the most important of them all.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).

__________________________________________________________

Sweat pours down powerful muscles, as she flows through the movements, her banto sticks cutting the air with precision. Up. Down. Strike. The wave of thoughts crashing through her mind stills until there is only calmness and peace left. For the first time since the strangers – now friends – had appeared in their camp, she has time to think, to contemplate.

It had been a frightening experience. Soldiers with very advanced weapons, not knowing what the Wraith were, not afraid to face them in battle and so very, very open with their intentions… She had never met such people before. Not wanting to see that innocence vanish in the face of the horrors of Pegasus, she had told them to go home, away to that place where no Wraith could find them, secretly wishing that kind of existence for her people as well.

Then, disaster had struck and she saw what she had feared come to pass. The dead eyes of Sheppard after failing to save his commander… She still doesn’t know what happened in that room, what Sheppard had seen, but knowing the Wraith, it must have been horrible.

Now they are here, she and her people, in the city of the Ancestors. As a child she had heard stories about it, but she never believed such a place to truly exist. The high towers reaching into the sky, water all around them and sunshine caressing the city like a dear old friend. Once upon a time, she imagines, the cities of old on Athos have looked the same. There is sorrow in that realization, but also a glimmer of hope. Here, in Atlantis, there are possibilities for her people. Possibilities to be great again, to stand up for their right to live and not only exist as cattle waiting to be culled.

Her movements begin to slow until she is motionless again. As her mind speeds up, her perception broadens, recognizing the presence of another behind her. She turns around and sees the leader of their new friends standing politely in the doorway.

In the last week, she has seen much of Elizabeth Weir and her qualities as a commander. Her people follow her, look up to her and for now she doesn’t disappoint. Still, Teyla knows that being the person others follow is not an easy job and she sees the strains of that burden in Weir.

“Forgive me,” Weir smiles hesitantly, almost chagrined, “I did not want to interrupt.”

“You did not.” She reassures Weir. Then, she looks closer. It is not coincidence that has brought the other woman here. Perhaps Elizabeth Weir is not aware of the reason, but Teyla believes that this is an opportunity she cannot miss. “Maybe you would like to join me?” There is hesitation in Weir’s eyes, as Atlantis’ leader considers the invitation. “I find the movements of the banto sticks relax me. It is a good way to meditate.”

In the end, Weir does join her. There are a lot of mistakes in the way she holds the sticks or in certain movements, but Weir – “call me Elizabeth” – is a fast learner and Teyla is an even better teacher. Finally, they move together, as one, and Teyla can see the leader’s body relax into the motions, can feel the worries ebb away.

It is much later that both women are sitting outside on a balcony, cups of green tea Elizabeth has brought with her from Earth in their hands. The taste is pleasant, as is the company. It is the beginning of a friendship. Of that, Teyla has no doubt. She knows why Elizabeth has sought her out. She is a fellow woman, leader of her people. Teyla understands the burdens that come with such a position.

“This was great. We should do it again.” Elizabeth says, before standing up, straightening and falling back into the role of strong and competent leader of Atlantis. It is as much a façade as it is a part of her, Teyla knows.

“Yes, we should.” She confirms and both smile before they part ways. This relationship, she figures, will be one of equals.

Teyla turns towards the open sea, marveling at the beauty of the Ancestors’ home. The sun illuminates the city in a glowing light, making it seem as eternal as time.

Her body tingles and she recognizes that feeling as a wild and unbendable hope she has never felt before. Together, they will make this city great again. Greater than ever before. And someday…yes, someday, her people will truly know peace.
Chapter 3 - 38 minutes by Atri
Author's Notes:
Elizabeth has insomnia.
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: None

CATEGORY: Introspective

PAIRING: hints of Sparky

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: 38 minutes

SUMMARY: Elizabeth has insomnia.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
__________________________________________________________

The halls are silent in this hour of the night. The only sounds she hears are her loud footsteps in the empty corridors. Try as she might, she cannot sleep, no matter that she is dead tired. Dead…She has almost lost him again. And though that possibility is not new – there have been incidents before, some more dangerous than this one -, it is the first time she has been present. There has been no certainty that he would survive, no reassurance by him sitting in front of her, laughing off the danger and regaling her with tales of his adventures. It has terrified her more than she cares to admit and, in the deepest parts of her heart, she knows that it was not only the fear of having to lead their people alone that had filled her being at that time, but something that went so much deeper.

She turns a corner and enters the infirmary, nodding quietly at the bored looking night nurse. What might she think of seeing her leader come here at such an odd hour? There are already rumors circulating the city about them, she knows. Some of them are true, but most are a product of her people’s vivid imaginations. Still, she is not prepared to contemplate what her feelings mean. She knows they are as deep as the Lantean ocean, but they are as mysterious as it as well.

She stops at the hospital bed, her eyes gliding over her partner, her fellow leader. His breathing is even, constant, so different from just hours before. The dark, unruly hair sticks up in every direction, making him look decidedly cute. Silently, she lowers herself into the seat beside him, her shoulders relaxing for the first time this day. Seeing him alive has lifted a heavy weight from her. She still does not know why she has come here, fully aware that such a thing could be misconstrued as something it is not. She and John have begun to build a close friendship that will only strengthen them. That friendship is blossoming, though not yet in full bloom, but she can already not outrun the realization that she cares for John Sheppard…a lot.

He shifts slightly, interrupting her train of thought. She stills, not wanting to wake him, but it is already too late. His brown eyes, heavy with sleep but somehow alert, slowly open, his gaze settling on her. For just a moment, long gone before she can truly analyze it, but not nearly fast enough that she will not recognize it for what it is, an emotion blazes in his eyes. His gaze is heated, something deep and powerful and utterly beautiful crossing his face, before it closes up again, once more only displaying what he wants her to see.

She does not speak a word, not daring to challenge him now with her newly gained knowledge. Somehow, she knows that if she does, he will not answer and their newly found friendship will suffer for it. Today, she has tried to ask him what he wanted to tell her. She has a feeling that it was something significant and though he had deflected her question with some drivel about taking care of each other, she has seen the answer in his eyes.

Now, their gazes locked and some of their barriers down, there is no need for words. It is too soon for them – the separation from Simon was too raw and she believes that John has his own demons to fight – and both of them need a steady, unbendable friendship first before everything else. Perhaps, with time, this `everything else` will be possible for them but, for now, she simply smiles at him openly and leans back. She sees his eyes close and lets her own eyelids fall shut, his constant, living breathing lulling her into a peaceful sleep.
Chapter 4 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: None

CATEGORY: Introspective

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Suspicion

SUMMARY: A curious meeting of two cultures.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Note that this is slightly AU, because I want `The First Year` to be kind of my prequel to NLC. So from here on out there will be some slight changes.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
__________________________________________________________

He is uncomfortable as he enters the room, though he believes that he shouldn’t be. He had been right, after all. But even that knowledge cannot remove the feeling of unease that has been consuming him the last few weeks.

“Sergeant Bates.” Teyla nods her head in greeting, a welcoming smile on her face. There is no distrust, no anger in her eyes. It makes him even more uncomfortable.

“Teyla.” He greets back and sits down on a cushion at the motion of her hand. Teyla’s room, he discovers, is a strange mix of futuristic, geometric Lantean design and the earthy tones of Athosian culture. There are rugs on the floor, candles on every available surface and a spicy scent in the air.

For a few minutes, there is no exchange of words. She serves him tea in a bowl and he accepts with a gracious bow, sipping the tasty brew silently, searching his mind for the appropriate way to begin the conversation.

“I will not say that I’m sorry.” He finally states.

She smiles at him, her eyes twinkling.

“I never expected you to do so.”

He fidgets at her brief answer. She is as patient and calm as Dr. Weir is and it makes him somehow feel like a guilty little boy, who is discovered trying to eat candy before dinner. It is absolutely unnerving.

“But I want to explain my behavior to you.”

Again, she shakes her head.

“I understand your actions and I admit that I would have done the same in your place.”

Looking at her, he thinks that she truly does understand and that surprises him. His job, being Chief of Security on Atlantis, brings with it a certain necessity for paranoia. Nothing and nobody is spared his suspicions and that makes him a good security officer, especially in a universe where mind-controlling parasites and brainwashing are the norm. He knows that he is not popular because of it, but he also doesn’t care as long as his base and his people are alive and well.

“Still,” he insists, not truly knowing why, “I feel like I must.” Perhaps, it is because he saw her courage on the field of battle or because it seems as if the Athosians are now a fixed part of Atlantis. Despite the wish of many Athosians to begin new lives on the mainland, there are still many of them, who want to fight the Wraith actively like Teyla. Both Major Sheppard and Dr. Weir are aware of their usefulness, as an information source and as scouts. Building trust is essential for their continued survival.

Or, perhaps, it is because she is a beautiful woman, his mind whispers.

He doesn’t deny the truth of that, despite knowing that getting involved with a woman on Atlantis – especially an alien woman – is not a good idea.

Whatever it is that prompts him into explaining his reasons to her, in the end it doesn’t matter. He tells her about his former team, SG-17, and how his team leader died taking one of his teammates and half of the assembled free jaffa with him after his zatarc programming kicked in. It is not a pleasant memory, but it is the cause of his constant paranoia, his drive to keep his new team, his new family, safe. There is no one waiting for him on Earth. These people, Atlantis, are all he has left.

He sees acceptance in her eyes and compassion.

They continue drinking their tea silently, until he finally asks about the going-ons on the mainland.

“We are quickly becoming accustomed to this new world. Halling believes that it will be a good harvest.”

He nods and they talk some more. It is light, pleasant small talk and there are no accusations or distrust from either of them. He expresses interest in the stick fighting – banto rods, she corrects him – and both know that it is a silent peace offering.

With a gracious smile, she asks if he would like her to teach him.

He says yes.
Chapter 5 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: None

CATEGORY: Introspective

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Childhood’s End

SUMMARY: The mission to Keras’ planet has an unforeseen impact on Aiden Ford.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
__________________________________________________________

/I am twenty-five years old./

Perhaps for the first time ever, the magnitude of what he is doing here finally penetrates his thoughts. He is in another galaxy, millions of light-years from his home, with no way back. He is fighting life-sucking blue aliens and living in the lost city of Atlantis. Despite his age, he is a veteran in the Stargate Program. He still remembers the days when the Goa’uld reigned supreme and surviving against incredible odds was nothing unusual. In many ways, that is still true. But the Milky Way is now safer than it ever was, the System Lords’ power broken. Maybe that is the reason why he went on this crazy expedition. Pegasus is now the new frontier and, in the wilds of this strange galaxy, there is no back-up from Earth, no re-supply, no help.

He picks up the French fry – made from some white alien potato they found on their last foray into Pegasus – and dips it into the hot, green sauce. It tastes surprisingly good and he mentally complements the guys on KP duty.

This is his life now, he knows, and it seems kind of normal. Around him, the mess hall is buzzing with different Earth languages. At the table behind him, a scientist – German from the sound of it – is talking about some new ruins AR-4 found on their last mission. He sounds excited and those around him share his enthusiasm, sometimes interrupting his retelling with new theories or ideas.

This is the reason, he reminds himself, why he is part of the Stargate Program, part of the Atlantis Expedition. He sees things most others will never see in their whole lives; new things, wondrous things.

He can’t explain why this last mission has him so out of balance. He has always known that being part of Earth’s first line of defense against alien threats could cost him his life, that the price for seeing such awe-inspiring wonders, travelling from world to world, meeting allies and enemies alike could mean either death or something much, much worse. He has no illusion of immortality, not like others his age might have, should have. And perhaps…perhaps that is the problem.

Being on Keras’ world, seeing children – children, who should be innocent, who should be playing with dolls, experiencing the love of a parent, having a childhood – going willingly, even eagerly to their deaths in what amounts to a suicide ritual…it makes him shiver.

He is twenty-five years old.

This is one of two thoughts that keep repeating in his mind. The other is:

/On Keras’ planet I would already be dead./

Somehow, this certainty, this inevitable evidence of mortality, the notion that he is in a galaxy where the individual life of a person doesn’t truly matter, hits home hard. He was always taught that, even if he had to sacrifice his life in order to protect others, it would be the last resort. After years of being part of the SGC, the motto of `leave no man behind` has integrated itself so deeply into his being that these senseless deaths make him angry. But beside the anger is also a deep-rooted fear. This is a cruel galaxy, one that takes lives and feeds on the blood of the innocent. He is afraid that he, too, will be forced to change in order to survive in this place, that he will have to sacrifice his morals, his beliefs, like Keras’ people had sacrificed themselves just to survive.

He looks up and sees his two leaders walking in, Sheppard smiling cheerfully at Weir and he has the urge to stand up and scream.

/How can you be so happy?! People are dying! Children are dying! Don’t you care?!/

But he knows it’s irrational and he knows that Sheppard cares. In some ways, his new commander reminds him of Jack O’Neill. He has worked with the later a lot of times. Sheppard, he muses, has the same darkness in him that the SG-1 team leader had. There are rumors that both men had once upon a time been black ops and though the darkness he has glimpsed in Sheppard has been only present in tiny, fleeting flashes, he doesn’t doubt that it’s there and that the man is more dangerous than his relaxed exterior alludes to. He has his suspicions as to what happened with Sumner and none of his theories are happy ones.

/I don’t want to end up like Sheppard./

And he truly doesn’t. He doesn’t want the same black darkness to exist in him, to make decisions, which could cost him parts of his soul.

Taking another sip of water, he looks at the table at the end of the mess hall. She is beautiful. Her red hair glitters in the sun, her blue eyes are sparkling with laughter. He knows that she is part of the biology department, a doctor of cytology, he believes. He stands up and goes over to her.

“Hi…”, he smiles sheepishly, “do you mind if I sit here? I’m Aiden, Aiden Ford.”

Her smile is bright, brilliant in its intensity.

“Of course.” She motions to the seat beside her. “I’m Helena.”

And perhaps, he thinks, he doesn’t have to end up looking down into the abyss, waiting for it to look into him and cover him in darkness.

/I’m twenty-five years old./

This time, the thought doesn’t bring with it the anger or the fear or the despair. This time, it is different. Perhaps he won’t have to sacrifice his principles, sacrifice his soul and his very being for survival. Perhaps it will be enough to just be Aiden Ford and perhaps, only perhaps, survival will not be the single most important thing in this galaxy.

/I’m twenty-five years old. My name is Aiden Ford and I will have a reason to live beyond survival./

Perhaps Pegasus will once more show him beautiful things, wonderful things, things that are not only worth dying for, but also worth living for.

/I’m twenty-five years old and I will be happy./

Perhaps that will be enough.
Chapter 6 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: Dark

CATEGORY: Introspective

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Poisoning the Well

SUMMARY: Two people ponder upon the consequences of their decisions.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
__________________________________________________________

She sees him at the fifth pylon, sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean. His shoulders are slumped and his whole being emits waves of failure and desolation. He is the epitome of a broken man and the guilt she was already feeling doubles just by looking at him. This is another consequence of being a leader, she knows. Like her people’s successes, their failures are her own, too.

For a long moment she stands there silently, not moving at all. But, then, she finally settles next to him, her gaze on the endless ocean before her. It is a sunny day. The scent of the sea is carried on a soft breeze to them and the sunrays are caressing her skin warmly. Somewhere, deep inside her, something screams that it shouldn’t be like that. Even now, she knows, people are dying, willingly going to their deaths. It should be raining. The weather, though, does what it wants and cares not for the plight of humans.

Without a word, she hands him the glass bottle with amber liquid, her eyes not moving from the horizon. She feels him startle. Perhaps he thinks it strange that she would bring such a thing with her.

“That’s not going to make it better, lass.” His strong Scottish voice rumbles from beside her, tinged both with resignation and guilt. She wonders if it is more difficult for him than it is for her. After all, she only made the decision; he carried it out.

“Perhaps not”, she admits, then grins ruefully, “but it’s not going to make it worse.” She never looked towards alcohol to solve her problems, but this time…this time she just wants to forget. Maybe it’s cowardly. Drinking herself into a stupor is not a way of dealing with things.

He sighs and she looks at him, seeing him take a huge gulp of the liquid. He passes the bottle to her. The Scotch is burning hotly, travelling down to her stomach and spreading warmth in her whole body. Some of the tension dissipates.

“Do you think…” he hesitates, not quite knowing how to formulate his question,“ that some of them will survive?”

It is a difficult question. Of course, the drug will not kill them all. But what will happen once the Wraith know that the Hoffans have a way to stop their feeding? There is no doubt that they will ruthlessly kill anyone who knows the secret.

Apparently, her silence is enough answer. A tortured sob escapes his mouth, cut off abruptly to bring himself under control again.

The truth is that there had been no way to make the Hoffans decide differently, to force them to not use the drug. It is their legacy. She understands that, to some extent at least, but she also hates it. She hates that she had had to give up her principles, because in the depths of her heart she had still believed in the Geneva Convention, in the moral superiority of humans, in not lowering herself to their level. It is a slippery slope and she now sees that she is inching it further and further down. There is no place for civilization – Earth’s kind of civilization – or mercy for one’s enemies here in Pegasus. Everything is about survival, about living another day. It is an ugly realization but also a necessary one. Earth’s people are living in luxury, cocooned in peace and anonymity. For all her terrestrial wars, Earth is still an innocent.

Envy and hate swirl inside her, making her angry. Angry at herself, because how could she have been so naïve? How could she have believed that the universe would align itself to her Earthern morals? Angry at the universe for not doing exactly that.

She takes another swallow of the Scotch, feeling her face stretch itself into a deep scowl.

There is no way around it. She sees it clearly in her mind. Earth morals, Earth standards will not survive here in Pegasus. Oh, she will try to hold on to as many of them as is possible, but she knows that there will be some she will have to let go.

She glances at Carson and squeezes his shoulder in sympathy. His eyes are dark, his expression empty. For him it is even harder. He is a doctor, a preserver of life, a healer. He has helped a civilization on the path to its doom.

His voice is quiet, when he speaks next, his words nigh a whisper, but they jolt her nevertheless.

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The symbolism doesn’t escape her and she smiles bitterly.

In front of her inner eye, she looks upon the road ahead. It is paved with hard decisions, with ugly decisions, with necessary decisions. It is a road she knows she must and will walk to ensure the survival of her people. It is inevitable that the journey will change them all. Perhaps it will even make some of them unable to look at themselves in the mirror. Perhaps that is the price she will have to pay.

Nobody ever said that leadership was easy. Survival, she discovers, is a hard taskmaster and necessity knows no laws.

She swallows some more Scotch and looks out at the ocean. It is a sunny, beautiful day. She squeezes Carson’s shoulder harder.

Whatever Pegasus throws at them, they will manage.

They have to.
Chapter 7 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: Dark

CATEGORY: Introspective

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Underground

SUMMARY: The meeting with the Genii has unsettled them all.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
___________________________________________

He walks into the room and stands at attention, the perfect picture of a soldier. And Seren Benjamin David is a good soldier, a very good soldier. It is the reason he is here.

“Please, sit down.” She motions with her hand to the seat opposite her. He does sit, his dark eyes regarding her and John with curiosity. Obviously, he doesn’t know what he’s here for. She, on the other hand, is perfectly aware that this decision could and will change their future. She lets John proceed with the explanations. He comes straight to the point.

“You are aware of our encounter with the Genii two weeks ago and the information we received from the data core.”

David nods. Of course, he knows. Who on Atlantis doesn’t? The news that the galaxy is practically flooded with Wraith has been known the moment the data had been deciphered. It had caused a slight panic for a while and Elizabeth could understand very well why. Hell, she herself is not immune to the threat hanging over them like a sword of Damocles. It is ever present, in the back of her mind.

“The situation with the Wraith is a problem,” states John and she has to keep from snorting at that understatement. A problem, indeed. “But, at least, we can see them on our sensors now that we know what we are looking for. No, the thing that has me concerned are the Genii. Teyla has told me that they have many friends in Pegasus and unlike with the Wraith, we don’t know whom we can and can’t trust. We are flying blind here and that is unacceptable.”

David nods in agreement and Elizabeth knows that he understands only too well.

“Surrounded by enemies, don’t know who to trust.” The Israeli grins suddenly, making him look like a hungry shark. “Feels just like home.”

And this time Elizabeth can’t help but snort at the comparison. She and John exchange a silent look and she knows that they have made the right decision.

“We want you to head a new branch of the Atlantis military, the Atlantis Intelligence Service. You will report directly to the Major and me. We need to know about the movements of our enemies, about their dealings and their allies.”

“I will need people; a lot of them.”

“You will get them. I have already spoken with Hallong of the Athosians. Some of them are prepared to be taught by you and to work for the AIS.”

David nods and the meeting continues. There are a lot of things, which will have to be decided upon: a new headquarters for the AIS, resources, organization. Still, Elizabeth is confident that they will handle it. How could they not?

Later, when only John and she remain, she finally relaxes, lets him see how tired she truly is, how uncertain in her decisions. She trusts him with that now and it is wonderful to have someone who won’t jump to exploit her weakness.

“How is Teyla dealing with all of this?” Though she is a friend to the Athosian, she knows that some bonds run deeper, especially in a team.

He sighs and leans back, his head falling forward in exhaustion. She is not the only one with a burden on her shoulders, she reminds herself. Nevertheless, she smiles. It happens more often now, but to see his defenses down is still a privilege.

“As good as she can. I doubt she ever thought that the Genii were something other than what they seemed. To see old friends turn out to be like this…It has shaken her. I think she feels guilty for Tyrus’ death.”

Elizabeth nods but keeps silent. There’s nothing to be said about this, no consolation nor reassurances. Mentally, she makes a note to have tea with Teyla soon. Despite all the hardships in the recent months, the relationship between their people strengthens with each day. It is a sign of hope. Allies in the Pegasus galaxy are hard to find and even harder to trust, as the recent example has clearly demonstrated.

“Look after her, John.” It is not necessary to tell him that, but she still does. “We need all the friends we can get.” He nods. He knows it, too. Without the Athosians, they would never have come this far.

They fall silent, business concluded and speech unnecessary. Both are comfortable enough with each other to do so now. As she sips her coffee and stares at the setting sun of Lantea, Elizabeth quietly wonders about the future. Will they ever be able to return to Earth? As more and more days slip past her in this new galaxy, her doubt rises. It is an adventure, this expedition, full of adrenaline, wonderful people and beautiful sights. But it also is horrible, dangerous and often deadly. Is it worth it? She doesn’t know. But it has to be.
Chapter 8 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: Introspective

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Home

SUMMARY: An afternoon on the mainland.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
___________________________________________

They walk through the village in silence, simply admiring how far their people have come since that faithful meeting on Atos. Teyla looks around and smiles with pride. The huts are simple dwellings, especially compared to the luxuries of Atlantis, but they are much more than they had before. They speak of settlement, of not having to break up camp and continue wandering in the hope of escaping a culling. Small gardens can be seen almost everywhere and the sweet scent of flowers and fresh bread drifts through the air. Mingling with the Earthborn, her people look happy, content. They move as one with their new friends, working on the fields outside the small settlement, learning from them and helping each other.

A little boy runs up to them, grinning widely, before seeming to remember his manners and bowing low. He hands them a basket of foods; fresh meats, fruits, the fresh bread she had smelt before and a jug of juice. Then he is gone as fast as he came.

They walk some more until they both settle on a hill overlooking the settlement. It is a pleasant day. The sun is shining, the ocean glitters a brilliant blue and Atlantis rises majestically in the distance.

“You have been silent today, my friend,” Teyla speaks softly after some minutes.

“There is a lot I’ve been thinking about.” Elizabeth sighs and leans back against the tree they are sitting under. There is a loss in her eyes that has not been there before. Teyla thinks she knows what has the leader of Atlantis so concerned.

“You are thinking of our time on M5S-224, are you not?” she queries and is answered by the flash of pain in the other’s eyes. The illusion of Earth has shaken all of her friends.

John doesn’t seem that concerned, but she still saw the disquiet in his eyes when they first came back from the experience. He was almost as disturbed to be on Earth as she was, she thinks. Here, in Pegasus, he seems freer somehow, more comfortable. She believes, perhaps, that he likes it better here.

Rodney, too, seems happier here. He is still as passionate as always about his research. There is an air of accomplishment around him. There is no mention of Earth or his family.

Aiden, of course, is more distraught. She knows that he has his grandparents still on Earth and that he misses them, fears that he will never see them again and that they will never know what happened to him. To have his hopes so swiftly swept aside has made him unbearably sad.

And Elizabeth…maybe it had the most effect on her. Teyla looks at the other woman and sees her staring into the distance, her eyes focused unerringly on Atlantis. Her shoulders are slumped slightly forward, but something in her bearing tells of hardened steel and a new determination.

“I can’t hide anything from you, can I?” she smiles in resignation and after a few moments begins to speak again. “I won’t say that it wasn’t hard being on Earth again. I have always been prepared for the possibility of never going back, never seeing the world I was born on again. Still, our experience with this illusion…” she trails off, then sighs, “it made it kind of … finite.”

Teyla nods and thinks she understands. Her friend is letting go and looking towards the future.

“Tell me of Earth. I have seen only a small part of it in the illusion, but it was a fascinating place.”

And Elizabeth does. She describes the world and its beauty, the many people living their daily lives without an ounce of fear of the Wraith, the rich cultures, landscapes and histories reaching far into the past. She also speaks of her parents, the city of Washington D.C., how she decided to become a diplomat, her dog Sedgewick and even a man called Simon, whom she had left behind to go on this expedition.

“Do you regret it? Coming here?”

It is possibly the most important question she has asked so far. Elizabeth stays still, but then she turns and in her eyes Teyla sees peace. When she speaks, the words are sure and strong.

“No.”

And Teyla believes her.

The rest of the afternoon is spent pleasantly. They sample the various foods, talk about the settlement, Atlantis, possible new alliances and the basketball game between the military and the scientists that will take place that evening. When they finally arrive back at Atlantis, Teyla can’t escape the hopeful feeling that has overtaken her. Earth was a marvelous world, so alive, so different; but Atlantis is marvelous, too, she thinks and looks at the people around her.

Atlantis is the future and she likes it; likes it quite a lot.
Chapter 9 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: H/C, introspection, drama

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: The Storm/The Eye

SUMMARY: The aftermath of the Storm hits Atlantis hard.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
___________________________________________

The corridors are silent, as she continues walking, joining several others on their way to her destination. Only the footsteps of her fellow Lanteans echo loudly on the metal floors. The sorrowful atmosphere resonates with her soul and once more she tries to quell the tears that threaten to fall.

Her group finally steps into a semi-covered hall. In the far back, there is no roof, only the darkening sky. It is dusk, the sun is setting, making the ocean glow with the last rays of brilliant gold. Some stars are already visible, shining brightly in a galaxy that is becoming more and more deadly.

Her eyes fall onto the two bodies lying peacefully on the funeral pyres, nothing reminding of their violent deaths just days ago. She knew them both. Each came to her after some of the more difficult missions. One always spoke of his mother, her cooking and how he missed her. The other had no family, but was easy-going and popular among his fellow soldiers.

Now they are lying here, never to walk again. She sighs bitterly and even that sound seems like a sacrilege in this place. Nobody ever speaks much at these things. There will be ceremonies later, each commemorating their lives and accomplishments differently, but honoring them all the same. It is never easy to lose someone you know, someone you are close to. They are a small community, melded together through blood and tears and dreams. Each loss hits them hard.

The hall is full now, the crowd motionless and solemn in the face of their combined grief. Suddenly, she hears the unmistakable sound of a bagpipe filling the air. The melody falls and rises again, simple and yet intricate. It fills her heart with the heaviness of despair. She looks down and closes her eyes, before taking a deep breath and straightening her back, her gaze on the horizon. The sun is almost gone and with the last light also fade the mournful cries of the bagpipe. It is silent now.

From each side of the hall two people step forward. She recognizes them. It is not explicitly stated, but it is acknowledged nonetheless. Despite their isolation from Earth, some rules and regulations still exist. If the majority of the Expedition is already disregarding these particular ones, then neither Doctor Weir nor Major Sheppard give any indication that they know. They do, of course.

Both of the women, who stepped forward, are holding torches. Almost simultaneously they lower them and set the pyres aflame. The fire spreads quickly, enfolding the bodies and burning higher and hotter than should be possible. Sparks rise into the midnight sky. For a moment, she remembers her childhood and her belief that these fiery particles would fly into the heavens and become stars.

She stands there for a long time just watching. Slowly, as the crowd begins to dissolve, she turns and walks away. There is no wish in her to join the various services, so she goes to a balcony not far from her office. She found this place not long after their arrival and it calms her after a stressful day of work.

“Kate,” the soft voice behind her says and she smiles slightly.

“Hello, Carson.”

He looks a little bit worse for wear, but that is understandable. He was in the thick of things during the invasion. His presence doesn’t disturb her; on the contrary, it helps. The two of them are healers, though in different fields. He heals the body and she tries to alleviate the pain of soul and mind.

“How are the others?” Kate asks and truly wants to know, if only to prepare for the next few days. Would she once more have a session with a stoic Major Sheppard, who tells her of his actions in a voice that hides everything but still says too much? Or the frantic mutters of Doctor McKay as he tries to find what he did wrong?

“Things have calmed down, relatively speaking.” Carson takes a sip from the Athosian Ale and offers her the bottle, shrugging when she declines. “The Major has been in closed meetings with Doctor Weir and Seren David. They’re still trying to find out how this could have happened. Rodney is frantically working on some of his new projects.” He groans. “This whole fiasco will have long-lasting consequences.”

Kate grimaces and looks at the stars. She never imagined she would be in another galaxy, fighting for survival against aliens and trying to save the sanity of so many people. Would she be able to? She doesn’t know. She sees it on the faces of her fellow Lanteans, in their eyes. Some have already begun breaking, some will shatter into a thousand pieces and it will be her job to pick them up and make them whole again.

She doesn’t regret going on the Expedition, not really. As a child she dreamed of far away worlds and wonders, each more magnificent than the one before. Some of these things she saw. Is that not reason enough to risk death?

“Did you ever think…”, she trails off and doesn’t know how to continue. Did he ever think that they would end up here? Fighting aliens? Trying to survive in a hostile galaxy? There is so much meaning in this one half-sentence, but she is unable to articulate her thoughts.

She snorts quietly. She, the one whose profession it is to soothe and reassure through the power of words, is unable to find them. How ironic. Nevertheless, his warm, compassionate eyes tell her that he understands only too well.

“I don’t believe anyone did.” Nobody was prepared to face what they now do. Nobody even imagined that such a situation was possible. Despite their experiences with the Goa’uld, the dangers of the Milky Way, somehow, they never thought they would meet a foe even more dangerous and terrifying. Perhaps it is human nature that makes one hope for the best instead of the worst.

Kate leans against him and he doesn’t reject her. Instead, he pulls her closer, one hand moving gently across her back. A feeling wells up from the depths of her soul and, suddenly, her eyes prickle and her head is aching. Abstractly, Kate knows what this is. She is only human and everyone, no matter how prepared or unwavering, eventually breaks.

“Carson,” she whispers and he pulls her closer still, probably hearing the fear in her voice. “Help me.”

And he does. Together they stand up and walk to her quarters. Their clothes fall to the floor and moonlight illuminates the room. He is tender in his actions, so unbelievably, unconscionably tender, that when she lies safely in his arms afterwards, the emotions she tried so long to suppress can be held back no longer.

Her tears fall unencumbered onto the sheets and his hand is still gently caressing her back, steadfast and true. In this one moment she is more thankful for him than he will ever know. This is something she has been denying herself and it is wonderful and cathartic and he is here. Here to pick up the pieces.

Tomorrow, there will be another day of wonders and dangers and death. Yes, there will be funerals and mourning and perhaps, one day, it will be her lying on the pyres and him who will have to carry the torch. But that is life. It is wild and beautiful and magnificent.

Through her tears, she smiles.
Chapter 10 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: H/C, introspection, drama

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: The Defiant One

SUMMARY: Life goes on.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
___________________________________________

In memoriam
___________________________________________

John leans against the doorway, looking at the frantic motions of his friend. The lab is in its usual state of disarray: empty cups of coffee scattered on the various tables, plates with leftover food set beside them. Amongst this chaos the Canadian is moving from one blackboard to another, scribbling them full with various mathematical formulas that go right over John’s head.

John doesn’t move and simply waits. For quite some time, there is no acknowledgement from Rodney, until, finally, he speaks, not looking up from the computer screen.

“What do you want, Sheppard? I’m busy here, so I don’t have time for your usual idiotic questions!” It is almost a growl and John hears the hostility clearly. It doesn’t face him in the least. He knows this reaction, has been through it himself more than once and he is well aware of what he has to do.

“God damn it, Sheppard!” Rodney jumps up, a fist crashing onto the table. His eyes are clouded with pain, grief and, most of all, guilt. “It’s my fault he’s dead!” And it seems that once Rodney has opened up, he cannot stop himself. His emotions erupt from him in a wave of words. “I gave him the gun! I was impatient. Wanted to go after you. What idiot gives someone who has just been fed on by a Wraith a gun?”

Rodney continues to rave and rage and John listens silently, until the scientist slumps into a chair, head in his hands and words spent. John walks over to him and squeezes his shoulder gently.

“It is not your fault, Rodney,” he says and knows that despite the truth of them, Rodney will not believe him for a long time. “The choice to end his life was his and his alone. He told you he was dying. It was his right to choose how to end it and I believe he chose the least painful way possible.”

John turns to go, when he hears the broken whisper of his friend.

“He thought I was brave, that I have changed for the better.”

John smiles.

“You are a brave man. You have saved my life countless times and even when you fear, you beat that fear back and overcome it. You are a good man and a good friend.” Rodney’s eyes fill with something like hope. It seems as if he has found something in this very moment that he has not had before.

John smiles and walks out of the lab. There is nothing left to say. Death can be tragic, sometimes even horrible. Death is also inevitable and no matter if you rage against it, blame or bury yourself in your grief, it still comes one way or another. In Pegasus, it comes far too frequently. John hates it, but life goes on, and, inevitably, so does he.
Chapter 11 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: introspection, drama

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Hot Zone

SUMMARY: A measure of trust.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
____________________________________________

She is once more on her favorite balcony, staring up at the heavens and seeing the magnificence of the carpet of stars above her. It does not give her the usual solace she gains by doing so. She sighs heavily, feeling the burden of leadership like she has not for months. The stars shine brightly. There are no constellations she knows, but, of course, there wouldn’t be. For the first time as she looks upon them she wonders what life would be like, if she hadn’t gone on this crazy one-way expedition. She would probably be teaching in D.C., perhaps be married to Simon. That boring, domestic life seems, just for a moment, desirable to her. There would be no wondering if her next decision would cost one of her people their life or if she was doing the right thing. Why would she ponder upon that now? She knows, of course. She has not felt so lonely since their initial arrival on Atlantis, before the unspoken agreement was reached between her and John. Now, with his actions today… she wonders if the betrayal she feels is normal. His actions saved the day, probably all of the people on Atlantis, but still…

His familiar footsteps come nearer, but she does not turn to greet him even as he stops to lean on the railing. There is silence between them for a long time.

“You are angry with me,” he finally states and his voice is calm and understanding and instantly something inside her snaps, wanting to spit and scream and pound against him. But she is too much of a diplomat to give in to her urges, her finely honed control over herself too sophisticated to allow herself such misconduct. So instead of screaming at him, she only nods silently.

“You have every right to be,” he continues and she thinks that he must know how furious she truly is. “I’m a pilot, a soldier. It’s not my nature to sit still and wait for a situation to resolve itself, not if I think I can help.”

“Today your actions weren’t detrimental to us, but John,” she finally turns to him, her face serious and her eyes seeking his, “it could have turned out worse, a lot worse. Sometimes, waiting is better than taking action, especially if you don’t know all the facts.”

“And sometimes you have to act before it is too late.”

They fall into silence, staring at each other. Somehow, she thinks, they were never as honest with each other as they are now.

“I trust you,” he says quietly and his words are deep and meaningful and leave much unspoken.

“Then trust me enough to make the right decision. For all of us.” She knows what she asks of him. She suspects that it is much more than anybody ever asked of him.

“I do,” he finally answers and she sees the truth in his eyes. “Just…just trust me in return, too.”

“I do.” And she truly does. His lips twitch upwards and, suddenly, there is a smile in his eyes. Unconsciously, she leans forward – or perhaps he does – and she can feel his breath on her lips, like a whisper of things yet to come. His eyes shine and the smell of pine oil drifts to her nose. She does not feel lonely anymore. In the end, when she feels his soft lips cover hers, it seems like an inevitability. Her hands find his hair and she pushes him closer and closer still.

They do not say anything when they part or when she leans against his chest; both of them watching the foreign stars cover the night sky. But his grip on her is steadfast and her body relaxed. They stay on the balcony until dawn.
Chapter 12 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: introspection

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Sanctuary

SUMMARY: Evolutionary changes.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
___________________________________________

She is on her way to her office when it happens again. The murmur that has been in her mind for the last few weeks grows stronger and the door in front of her swishes open at just the barest of thoughts. She frowns and changes her direction to the infirmary.

“I’m getting more and more reports of things like this happening,” Carson later tells her, his brow furrowing in dismay, “and I don’t know why. I did as you asked and checked for the ATA gene again. You have it now.”

“I thought the gene therapy didn’t work? Is this just a delayed reaction?”

“No. If the therapy had worked, then it would have done so immediately. There’s no explanation why the gene suddenly appeared.” He shrugs apologetically and promises to investigate further. Elizabeth squeezes his shoulder briefly and then walks out again.

This shouldn’t be happening. Logically, there is no way for her to suddenly develop the gene out of nowhere, but logic, it seems, will not help her here. She doesn’t return to her office, but to her usual balcony and leans against the railing. It is a beautiful day. The sun shines and the fresh salty air smells good. Nevertheless, her thoughts are still on the mystery that now plagues her mind.

When did this begin? She believes she knows. It is no coincidence, surely, that these things started to happen after Chaya visited Atlantis. For a brief moment the hot, boiling feeling of envy flashes through her, but she banishes it into the depths of her being. This is no time for such petty emotions, no matter how justified.

Had the presence of Chaya activated something in Atlantis that now affects them too? It certainly seems possible. She remembers a conversation she had with Daniel back when aliens, higher beings and other worlds were still new to her.

The Ascended don’t care for us. Live or die, they do not interfere. He had snorted in derision, his face a mask of disgust and incomprehension. It’s the reason why they kicked me out – or perhaps why I left? People dying, whole species annihilated, the galaxy burning…they don’t care for any of it. Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t just some kind of twisted entertainment for them. For all intents and purposes, we are their children, but we have been left with a galaxy riddled with their mistakes. The Great Alliance is no more. The Nox are mostly in isolation, the Furlings – who knows? And the Asgard are the only ones that still care, but they are stretched too thin to make a true difference, though they, at least, try. And then there’s us, Tau’ri, cleaning up their messes. It’s not going to change. That’s what you have to realize, Elizabeth. Nobody out there will help us, will save us. We’re alone in this and we have to do everything to come out on top.

Back then, she had not wanted this frightening revelation to be true. Now she knows that Daniel was right. Even if there were some amongst the Ascended that would like to help, they would be punished for it. Pegasus had been left to the wolves when the last Alterans had gone to Earth. Once more, it is in the hands of their children to fight and to win.

Elizabeth doesn’t know how she should feel about this development. Having the ATA gene is a bonus when living on Atlantis, but somehow, somewhat, she is angry. Perhaps it is the remnant of the hope that, finally, they would gain a reliable ally, that those that came before them would rise up and act. The dream of finding a peaceful Atlantis had been shattered almost upon their arrival in Pegasus. It doesn’t make the realization that they are truly alone, that there will never be any kind of intervention from the Ancients any less disappointing.

Elizabeth turns and heads to the balcony door, stopping a few feet before reaching it. Is this an indirect way of helping? Was this truly Chaya’s final defying act? Elizabeth wills the door open and it obediently slides apart.

The murmur in her mind gets stronger, more distinct. She cocks her head to the side and listens. Atlantis, in return, sings to her. The song reminds her of the sea, of ringing bells and laughter and sunshine. Smiling, she pats the grey wall beside her like she would Sedgewick.

You’re ours now, she thinks fiercely, possessively. We will make you great again, fill your hallways with life and the sound of children’s laughter. We will do better than them and our children will not have to pay for our sins.

She nods to herself and walks back to her office and the troubles of being Atlantis’ leader. Somehow, though, she feels the city’s song grow stronger and brighter.

The radiant smile on her face is as brilliant as Lantea’s sun.
Chapter 13 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: introspection

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Before I Sleep

SUMMARY: A strange birthday.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
___________________________________________

“Not quite the birthday you imagined,” the voice behind her says. She turns and smiles at Kate, beckoning her to come closer. Elizabeth isn’t surprised to see her here. John and his team are out on a mission and she has no meetings for the rest of the day. Practically all of Atlantis has heard about their departed guest from ages past.

Kate walks up to her and joins her in staring into the distance. It is now late afternoon. The sun is shining and its warmth caresses her face. The past few hours, meeting an alternate self, seem like a dream. Nevertheless, she knows it to be real. Kate doesn’t say anything and Elizabeth knows that the psychologist won’t be the one to start the discussion. It is a typical strategy, both for diplomats and for psychologists. Normally, she wouldn’t even contemplate baring her thoughts or feelings. It is in her nature; being a deeply private person. She doesn’t ever talk about what is truly bothering her. In this, she thinks, both she and John are the same. Still, this isn’t a normal day.

“No,” Elizabeth’s grin is both rueful and slightly sad, “meeting an alternate version of myself that is thousands of years old and then seeing her die is not the way I had imagined the day to go at all.”

“It must have been…different…seeing yourself like this.” Kate doesn’t seem to know how to express herself today. Elizabeth doesn’t blame her. The situation is quite unique.

“Hmm…” she muses, ”it was…frightening. I have never been confronted with my own mortality like this. When Kolya had taken Atlantis, there was a real chance that I would die, but I had other things on my mind: how to get Atlantis back, whether we would survive the storm, my people, John…This slow, inevitable decline…the waiting…”

Kate nods in understanding, then asks:
“You think she regretted it, in the end?”

Did she? For all intents and purposes, the alternate Elizabeth had been herself. Would she have done the same?

“No and I would have done it too.” Saving Atlantis, this glorious city, the one hope of Pegasus to defeat the Wraith. It is a dream worth saving, worth sacrificing one’s life for. It doesn’t mean that she wants to die, if there’s another option. The unhesitating, unbreakable notion that, of course, she would give her life if it means keeping her people and Atlantis safe, is, at once, terrifying and exhilarating both. She never imagined herself capable of that before. There is bravery in that concept; a bravery she never thought she could possess.

Strangely enough, she feels better now, freer. She smiles at Kate and sees the well-hidden concern in the psychologist’s eyes ease a little. They continue talking about inconsequential things. Later that evening, when John and his team come back from their mission, she drags him to the little nightclub that some people have organized – not that he minds. The music is lively and she relaxes, laughing wildly and unreservedly.

She is breathing. She is living. She doesn’t know any place she’d rather be. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad birthday, after all.

He grins at her and they dance the night away.
Chapter 14 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: introspection

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: The Brotherhood

SUMMARY: The long range sensors tell a bleak future.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
__________________________________________

“I’d thought I would find you here.” She hears his voice say, but does not turn away from the picturesque star-filled sky. It is an appropriate, but perhaps morbid, place to come and think, though given the situation…

John sits down beside her. From the corner of her eyes, she can see him stare at the unlit funeral pyres and knows that he is thinking the same thoughts: how many will they have to mourn in this hall in the next few weeks?

“Do you think we will survive?” There is more than hesitation in her voice; fear for the future, which may be non-existent. For a moment, she thinks that she sees a flash of doubt in his eyes, before he covers it with his usual optimism and determination, though she can tell that it is forced.

This is the first time that Atlantis herself is confronted with such a threat while under her leadership, and she knows that the meager energy reserves in their ZPMs and naquada reactors will not be enough.

“We had rotten luck today,” he admits and she snorts inelegantly at that understatement. In the Pegasus galaxy one crisis follows another. To have come so close to a valuable power source and then be denied just because of some religious zealots…

Even with your whole none-interference policy, you still manage to make problems for us, she thinks rather unkindly to the heavens, perhaps hoping that one of those ascended pricks will hear her fully justified angry message.

“Still,” John continues, unaware of her mental rant, “we’ve managed to survive worse,” and at her raised eyebrow adds: “well, perhaps not; but we will survive.”

And she truly wants to believe him, but the realist in her can’t. Three Wraith ships are enough to destroy Atlantis, even if the city will manage to hold them back for a while. She has seen the calculations of her scientists. There’s just not enough power. Hell, even if they had an additional ZPM – would it be enough?

“There is a possibility you should consider,” John says after some minutes of silence. His words are slow and hesitant and she knows that she won’t like them. “The Kids’ planet. M7G-677 and their ZPM.”

“I won’t take away their only protection, just to ensure our survival!”

“Calm down, Elizabeth!” He places a hand on her shoulder and she forces a breath out, acceding. “We wouldn’t take it by force, but think about it: Pegasus will be lost without Atlantis. For thousands of years, there was no true opposition to the Wraith, until we came. We have a chance to beat them back – to defeat them! And it’s not just that…Atlantis is a symbol of hope. It must not be destroyed!”

She reluctantly nods.

“There must be other, better alternatives – but I will think about it,” she adds when he looks about to argue. Perhaps the meeting next morning will bring another kind of hope that won’t force her into an untenable situation.

For the moment though, she just leans into him and tries to think about other, happier things.
Chapter 15 by Atri
Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford


RATING: PG

WARNINGS: none

CATEGORY: introspection

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Letters from Pegasus.

SUMMARY: A hope extinguished.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
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“…chevron seven…locked…chevron eight…cannot lock!” There is no flash of wormhole-blue and with that the last hope of hers – help from Earth or just the possibility that her people will not be forgotten, their deeds known back home – is brutally ripped away. It had been a faint hope, but still there. After all, when they had left Earth, the SGC was well on their way to improving the hyperdrive and even without that, there were still the Asgard, who would not have found it impossible to travel to Pegasus.

“What?!” Rodney’s voice cuts through her thoughts, and she turns to see him looking at a display in the command centre with agitation. “But…but…no!” Then, after a moment: “…Jeannie…” He falls down and begins sobbing in an uncommon display of emotion.

“Radek?” she hesitantly asks. The Czech, too, pales at whatever he sees, but when he stumbles back, manages to support himself against one of the columns. Swallowing, he raises his eyes and there is horror in his gaze.

“The reason we did not manage to establish a wormhole,” he finally says with a thicker accent than usual, “…it was not our fault. The reason lies with Earth. It’s like with a telephone: if Earth already had an engaged wormhole with another planet, then we would get a busy signal, so to speak. But this time…this time we got nothing…it’s…as if there is no one on the other side…”

There is no need for him to say anything else. The implications are clear. Earth would never bury their gate – they had the iris for protection. If nobody is there…then the only explanation is that the gate does not exist…that Earth is no longer there.

She fights down the bile in her throat. Her home world…gone. She knows, of course, about the threats that Earth faced when the expedition left. The Replicators are, in some ways, even more dangerous than the System Lords. Suddenly, she remembers the secret orders of President Hayes and his IOA counterparts, in case that Earth fell. At that time, she had not wanted to believe such a thing possible, but now…

Looking around her, at the grim faces of her people, who know exactly what such a lack of contact means, she feels the enormous responsibility of her position crash down around her. This expedition is now the last remnant of the Tau’ri, of Earth, the First World. What is left of Earth’s traditions and culture, her mentality and uniqueness, is here – and she, Elizabeth Weir, is the leader, the one responsible to ensure that it would survive.

“Sergeant Bates,” she tells the man, who is admirably not breaking down like some of the others are, and she is proud of the fact that her voice is steady, “please gather all non-essential personnel in the mess hall, where I will make an announcement.”

He salutes her and goes.

Thirty minutes later, she is standing in front of a crowd of people, their faces desperately hoping, but already knowing what has happened. She doesn’t want to shatter the hope, but knows she must. Briefly she recounts their attempt of contacting Earth and the result.

She pauses, takes a deep breath, willing herself to remain strong and speaks:

“We must assume that the worst-case scenario has happened: Earth is lost.” There. She said it. Resolutely, she ignores the crying and the tears. “That means that the Phoenix Protocols are now active. We will not fade into oblivion! As long as we live, our memories and our culture will live on! The enemy we face is dangerous, but I have seen each and every one of you survive the most dangerous and desperate of situations. When all seemed lost, we showed that we could survive even then. This is not the end! Dismissed.”

She catches John’s eye and together they leave the mess hall and their people to their grief and sorrow. Together, the two leaders of Atlantis walk silently to her office. She does not turn to him. Her shoulders are hunched and she chokes back the tears. No. Now is not the time. Not yet. She feels him hover behind her, almost touching, his warmth just there.

“The ZPM on the Kids’ planet…” she begins, simultaneously hating herself and knowing it to be necessary, “…go to them. Tell them about our situation. Offer them Atlantis as a sanctuary. Take AR-2 with you.” It remains unspoken that he will go alone. Teyla is already on the mainland, explaining. Rodney is desperately trying to find a solution and Aiden…no…this is not his burden to bear.

John does not give a verbal acknowledgement, just squeezes her shoulder and leaves. Alone, she steps out onto the balcony and just breathes, eyes on the horizon.
Chapter 16 by Atri
Author’s note: the last chapter of TFY. I hope you enjoyed this. Thank you for reading.
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She looks on as more and more children come through the stargate and frowns. She feels guilty, she realizes. Is this the right choice to make, taking these children from their home, for a plan that might or might not succeed? All just so a city might exist?

Atlantis is worth it, she knows. That doesn’t make this any easier, though. Some of these children look unwilling, crying for a home lost. To them it doesn’t matter that sooner or later their protection from the Wraith would have failed. They have just lost the only place they have ever known, all for a promise of a better future.

Her thoughts are interrupted when she feels a presence behind her. She turns her head slightly and sees Teyla standing there, hands clasped behind her back, looking as serene as always. The Athosian gives her a small, kind smile.

“Elizabeth,” Teyla nods, “all of my people are in their new quarters. We have harvested as much as possible in this short time, though much will be lost when we arrive on our new planet.”

For a moment, Elizabeth is surprised and a little envious of the simple, pure conviction in Teyla’s voice. It is as if she does not believe that they could fail in that crazy, suicidal plan of Zelenka and McKay.

“You seem so certain.” Elizabeth allows her voice to carry a bit of the doubt she feels and Teyla, forever observant, notices.

“I am certain, my friend,” Teyla tells her, putting a hand on her shoulder and squeezing it in comfort. “We have survived many situations that would have seemed hopeless for me before I met your people. Now? Now, I believe.”

Elizabeth smiles at her friend, feeling better.

“Perhaps you are right.”

“I know I am.”

It is with renewed determination that Elizabeth goes on working. There is much to do; making sure that all people are settled and accounted for; that their supplies and equipment are stowed away safely; that the naquada bomb Rodney and Radek are building will be ready in time.

In the afternoon hours, John returns in the puddlejumper, grinning.

“We’ve found it.”

They go into her office and he tells her about their new home: a garden world rich in resources, with no stargate and far from the usual Wraith feeding grounds. As she listens to him, she dares to hope that everything will be all right after all.

After that, everything happens quickly. Everyone prepares as best as they can, knowing the huge risk they are taking. Some pray, some love and others fight. Elizabeth finds herself clinging to John in a bout of passion in her rooms; first against the wall, then on her balcony and finally in bed. Later, she thinks it strangely appropriate that the best sex of her life would happen just before doing something so suicidally crazy as ripping a hole into space-time and detonating a naquada bomb afterwards.

When the time finally comes, it is a beautiful, sunny day on Lantea. John is in the chair room, she in the control center. Rodney counts down and everything around her vanishes in a blinding white color. Her stomach is turning and she feels ill and disoriented for a moment, before the world makes sense again. They arrive above their new home and John makes planetfall as quickly and as carefully as possible. It isn’t easy. Air and water are displaced, shields fall and everyone breathes out in relief. They have made it.

Hours later, there are parties all over Atlantis, but she stands on her favorite balcony, gazing at new stars and a new ocean. Two moons and the brilliant colors of an aurora dominate the sky. It is beautiful.

The door behind her swishes open and she does not have to turn to know that it is he. She takes a sip from the offered wine, simply enjoying. They are alive, hidden from their enemies. They did it.

She laughs, twists her head so that she can see him, and gives him a glowing smile.

He grins in return, leans forward and kisses her. It is reckless and bold and entirely too familiar. She doesn’t care and simply feels.

“We’re alive!” she chirps, sounding more like a little girl than a seasoned diplomat.

“We are,” he agrees and kisses her again.

She knows that there will be problems. There always are. But they are here, alive, having survived their first year in Pegasus and John is kissing her.

There is no place she’d rather be.
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